Ca Maria Adele, Part 1: Introduction
She gave Robert Motherwell his first one-man show, and, that same year, he sold his first painting to a museum – none other than New York City’s prestigious MoMA. She helped introduce the world to “unknowns” such as Janet Sobel, Clyford Still, and Mark Rothko[link]. And, without her, Jackson Pollock might have been more popular as a Southern seafood dish than as the key abstract expressionist figure we all know now.
This prescient woman got many things right, and she once said this about Venice: “It is always assumed that Venice is the ideal place for a honeymoon. This is a grave error. To live in Venice or even to visit it means that you fall in love with the city itself. There is nothing left over in your heart for anyone else.”
That woman was Peggy Guggenheim, of the art world’s venerable Guggenheim family. She settled in the city she loved, there creating one of the greatest art collections, which remains to this day in the same location in Venezia, at Dorsoduro Sestiere.
However, after leaving from my latest visit to La Serenissima, I felt just a bit differently; my accommodations were to Venice what Peggy’s Venice was to the rest of the world: Ca Maria Adele seems to leave not much room in your heart for anyone else, including Venice itself, just outside.
Ca Maria Adele, Part 2: Ca Maria Adele
I recently returned from a trip that saw me and my lady friend through Venice, Verona, and Rimini, Italy, as well as the landlocked micro-nation of San Marino. Venice was just about the beginning of our trip, and the stay was memorable, to say the very least.
Taking the number 1 vaporetto from the main gateway at the Santa Lucia railway station, we churned our way over towards the Salute stop, named for the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, a cathedral just across from our place for the night, the boutique hotel, Ca Maria Adele.
Ca Maria Adele was a complete luxury, from the very beginning. As I am usually a budget traveler, I felt a bit nervous walking into the lobby of this grand hotel, like I imagine a mother might be nervous bringing a screaming toddler through the Glassware or Decorative Ornament departments at Harrods. At the reception desk just inside the entrance, the unwaveringly kind man instructed us to simply leave our bags right where we stood, and then he guided us to the waiting room just behind his desk. A moment later, that initial nervousness began to melt away, as we were given a large glass each of some perfectly dry Prosecco as we waited. (The reason for the wait was that “we want to double-check to make sure everything in your room is perfect.”)
As we sipped our wine and took in the intricately-detailed waiting room, we spied two of the staff with our luggage in hand, making their way to our room. Minutes later, just as we finished our glasses, one of the men announced himself and requested that we follow him to our room.
Ca Maria Adele, Part 3: The Room
Each of the 12 rooms invokes its own style, and our night of luxury would be spent in the aptly-named, resplendent “Moorish Room.” It truly was a feast for the eyes. Fabric colored in sapphire blue and a subdued gold covered all the walls, and the same material was used to manufacture the comforter cover and pillowcases. Two statues of men stood watch on opposite corners of the room, each holding a tilted lamp; two hand-molds were attached to the wall on either side of the bed’s head, holding two more lamps to complete the dim glow of the elegant space.
Our bags were in a space near the door, veiled behind that same fabric in a space which also housed a minibar fridge and a coat rack. On the bed was a handwritten letter, as if we hadn’t yet been welcomed sufficiently. A large, marble-topped desk faced the bed in the center of the room, and a small, flat-screen television was turned on, soft music playing with what appeared to be a live video feed of the canals outside. One massive, throne-like chair of African provenance was situated on one corner of the desk next to the window, while two smaller ones of similar style, along with a table between them, stood on the other side of the room, near the large door leading to the balcony. That small table held a bottle of that same Prosecco we had just swallowed, along with three containers with different nuts for snacks, and one more pleasant handwritten note.
The bathroom was quite spacious and bright, fully stocked with amenities, a real hairdryer, and that Italian staple, the bidet, of course. Seven pairs of various hygienic products were lined neatly by the large mirror, and some bath salts were waiting to be used by the Jacuzzi. The shower above it was surrounded on three sides by thick, cream-colored marble, and the lack of a shower curtain would later translate into several minutes of me mopping up the floor, but I guess that shower curtain might have not been tasteful; every part of the room’s design was flawless, after all.
Oh, and that balcony! Opening the large glass door and stepping out, the balcony was a treat all by itself. Though large enough only for the two of us to stand, it offers the most amazing view, jutting out over the canal below and facing the aforementioned Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Tilting your head to your left, you see the Grand Canal just several hundred meters away. A testament to the fine craftsmanship and planning of this hotel could be seen even in something as innocuous as the balcony’s door – my lady friend noticed, with due excitement, how the curved, semicircle top of the door allowed it to open and close without interference from the heavy curtains that hung just inside.
Ca Maria Adele, Part 4: Breakfast
Our breakfast affair began the night before. We’d gone out for the evening for a stroll around San Marco, getting lost in the maze of alleyways and side streets. Upon our return, we noticed that our room had again been set in order: the bed was made, the decorative comforter was removed and replaced with something more comfortable, and the television was again turned on, playing a soothing sound while displaying the night scene outside.
On our bed was a long card, with dozens of check boxes for us to choose what items we would like for our meal in the morning. The price of the room includes this breakfast, but the hotel doesn’t use that as an excuse to be cheap; there were numerous items on there which themselves would cost small fortunes elsewhere.
There were 7 different styles of coffee, 5 different fresh juices, and that Prosecco, again. Several options each were afforded for proteins, cheeses, cereals, pastries, and salads. There were not 1, not 2, but 3 different versions of honey to choose from. And then there was one item that continues to astound me even now: the boiled eggs. They’re not strange, I know, but they leave a blank space next to the eggs for you to write in how many minutes you’d like them to boil! How about that!
One other unique luxury that Ca Maria Adele offered for breakfast was the time/location option for them to serve your breakfast. On the front of this amazing card were several more blanks to fill in. You choose your time to be served, anytime between 8 and 12 (and they kindly ask you to allow for up to a 15-minute delay), and then you choose from four locations to be served: the breakfast room, the lounge living room, the terrace, or in your own room. The card also told us that night just how the weather would be the next morning; we would have a sunny Monday with temperatures between 8° and 14° Celsius.
Oh, and the food was absolutely exquisite.
Ca Maria Adele, Part 5: Private Gondola & Murano Tour
If the price of several hundred euros causes you to strike the Ca Maria Adele from your accommodation choices in Venice, I want to present to you one more perk of the hotel that really helps to temper the cost.
Around noon, it was time to check out – and that was not easy, thanks to the food coma we were struggling to overcome from breakfast. We had been informed that, included in our room price, we could book a private tour of a Murano glass-making factory. Calling down to reception 45 minutes prior to our checking out, as requested, a private gondola was made available to us to escort us to Murano. We left our bags for them to hold, and then we boarded.
The gondola was one of the modern, motored ones, as opposed to the picture-friendly oared contraptions – otherwise I might still be making my way to Murano now. Even so, the ride took a pleasant twenty minutes or so, a nice tour in itself, through the Grand Canal, then winding left and right through some quiet side canals, then out on the open water to Murano, where our gondolier opened the throttle.
We were taken to a private dock at the Mazzega Glass Factory on Murano, a factory where several Venetian families still make glass the Venetian way. Our tour guide, a seasoned one it would seem, was waiting for us at the dock to literally offer his hand to help us up out of our boat. Tourists streamed in and out of the showroom just steps away, but we were shown to a private rear entrance where we walked down a corridor and into a large warehouse.
The Signoretti family, a father and his sons, were there doing what they’ve done for time immemorial. Torturing glass over hell-hot flames and then bending it to their will, some sort of wizardry happened and then behold – an intricately-detailed chandelier!
We marveled a bit more at how these tall, rough-looking men, dirty and sweating, could poke and prod and beat and hammer their medium into such enchanting, ornate pieces of art. Then, we were led around the furnaces and up some stairs into a showroom of all their unsold works of glass, again causing my anxiety to rise in fear of a possible perambulating misjudgment. Just look at some of the photos I took – these alone might suffice to cause the same anxiety in you.
Ca Maria Adele, Part 6: The Location
Oh, how times have changed. Our Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of Saint Mary of Health) was constructed in the 1630’s to thank the Lady for deliverance from the plague. You see, the infamous Great Plague of Milan killed off about one million people in a series of bubonic plague occurrences. In just two-years’ time, Venice itself lost one-third of its population. Today, that monument to health now seems to announce quite the opposite, as our luxurious hotel is situated “just across the street.”
The location of Ca Maria Adele in Venice could not be more perfect, I assume. Situated near the tip of Dorsoduro, it is just where you want to be if you want more of the “real Venice.” Crowds abound all over Venezia, but at this part of Dorsoduro it considerably thins out, leaving you surrounded by museums and world class art institutions in relative tranquility. However, don’t think that this serene bubble equates to it being far from the main sights – Piazza San Marco is just on the other side of the Grand Canal, the very next stop on vaporetto Line 1. The relatively low visitor count at Dorsoduro translates perhaps into a gift and a curse as far as your vaporetto ride is concerned: the Line 1 has fewer passengers than the other lines, meaning you could get a seat (or at least not be packed like sardines), but it also has slightly longer wait times for each boat, as this stop is served by only the one line. However, take a stroll, instead – the Ponte dell’Accademia is just around the corner, one of only four bridges in all of Venice which cross the Grand Canal, making for a pleasurable, 10- to 20-minute walk from the hotel to San Marco Square.
Ca Maria Adele, Part 7: Conclusion
As I stated in my TripAdvisor review: I’ve had stays in hotels where circumstances forced me to remain in my room, perhaps owing to bad food or weather; Ca Maria Adele almost forced me to stay in my room due to its pure opulence and sumptuousness. I ought to have been mad: How was I supposed to enjoy this must-see city if my accommodations were too comfortable and luxurious for me to want to leave it?
After racking my brain for something to complain about, that there above is really all I could come up with. I could expound the glories of this place without end, so I needed something “negative” to help me prove that my subjective review is indeed thought out.
Really though, Ca Maria Adele is just superb. It’s got a prime location near enough to San Marco and the art scene but far enough from the crowds. The all-inclusive perks make up much of the cost by themselves, especially if you take advantage of the Murano tour. And, the pure elegance of the hotel, the amiability of the staff, the quality of the food, and the comfort of the room makes it all but impossible for one to leave without a smile on their face and, soon after, an aching desire to be right back.
Ca Maria Adele was the best stay I’ve had anywhere, and I will weigh all future accommodations against its perfection.
Disclosure: I tried to be as honest and impartial as possible in this review, but this one-night stay was given to me and my girlfriend by the hospitable and exceedingly-generous Campa brothers.