Veronica Etro’s favourite European hotel

The creative director of womenswear at Italian fashion house Etro adores Ca Maria Adele, a Venetian palazzo with privacy to spare and a hint of decadentismo around its edges, says Maria Shollenbarger

Veronica Etro
Veronica Etro | Image: Fabio Massimo Aceto

In general, I like small hotels. More to the point, I dislike that thing of a big hotel with no originality or character, where it’s possible you don’t even know which city you are in, like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation – that, to me, is the worst.

Ca Maria Adele with a private landing stage, facing the church of Santa Maria della Salute
Ca Maria Adele with a private landing stage, facing the church of Santa Maria della Salute

I was always really curious about Ca Maria Adele the few times I had passed by it in Venice. For a while I actually thought it might be a private house, because from the look of it you don’t necessarily understand that it’s a hotel at first; and ca’ is Venetian dialect for house. So one day I walked right up to the door, went in and asked, ‘What is this place?’ I had a look round and took a card. And from that visit I understood immediately that Ca Maria Adele is warm and intimate and makes you feel very comfortable.

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I love that it’s eclectic and a bit flamboyant, like we are at Etro. It’s full of different fabrics, wallpapers, damasks; you instantly have a sense of place, that you are in Venice, even if there are some more exotic things here and there, as many of the rooms are themed – a few Moorish lanterns and sculptures, or Chinese-style porcelain. And each is completely different from the others – not a colour or pattern is the same.

The exotically themed Doge’s room
The exotically themed Doge’s room

Ca Maria Adele is in a 16th-century palazzo and has a quite amazing location: facing the church of Santa Maria della Salute, from which you are literally a couple of steps, and right off the Grand Canal. You can walk to the Punta della Dogana in a few minutes and there are some really great restaurants, but at the same time it’s remarkably quiet. Because it’s on the other side of the Grand Canal from San Marco, you are not crowded in by 200,000 tourists – though you can see the piazza from the pretty rooftop terrace, where you can have aperitivo. Alternatively, you can have it downstairs on the first floor, in the same sala as they serve breakfast.

A private terrace
A private terrace

In general, I don’t gravitate towards modernity, but in Venice especially you don’t want to break completely with authenticity, so I’m gratified they haven’t tried to impose the modern too much at Ca Maria Adele. They still have the mosaic and the terrazzo on the floors; they’ve worked with what was there already. And they’ve created beautiful lighting, which is something we in Italy often don’t get right. There are ornate chandeliers and Moroccan lanterns everywhere; everything is mixed in a very eclectic way. None of the spaces is very large, but they make up for it with the richness of the materials and the way they are put together. I send everyone to stay here, because to me Ca Maria Adele genuinely has the feeling of a home. One with a bit of decadentismo perhaps, but I suppose that is what fascinates me.

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