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  • Writer's pictureStefania Gioia

Venissa: the Experience

Michelin starred restaurant Venissa, on Mazzorbo island, promotes a slow travel experience, encouraging visitors to spend more time exploring the lagoon, enjoying typical products, meeting its few inhabitants. All surrounded by striking views.

Our friends and whoever took one of our Venice tours, know the small islands in the Northern lagoon have a special place in Have a Glass in Venice’s heart. We couldn’t be happier to lead our guests towards these magic spots, unknown to the most, immersed in a pristine landscape and imbued with a rich, almost forgotten culture.

Luckily, somebody is committed to keep them alive: a few fishermen, farmers and vintners, some artisans, a small clutch of artists looking for inspiration and, of course, hoteliers and restaurateurs that chose the mysterious lagoon as their daily horizon.

Venissa, the chic Michelin starred restaurant and osteria located on the verdant Mazzorbo island, certainly stood up among them for its traditional, yet sophisticate culinary proposals. Nevertheless, not everyone knows that Venissa is, first of all, a vineyard: almost twenty years ago, the renowned wine producer Gianluca Bisol discovered a few plants of an ancient grape variety in a Torcello’s garden. Intrigued by the surprising find, he looked deeper into the area and, helped by a team of agronomists and lagoon’s experts, was able to rescue a total of 88 vines of Dorona, that ended up to form the current Venissa vineyard.

According to historical sources, the lagoon area was once extensively cultivated with grapes (a vineyard grew in Piazza San Marco till 1100!). Venice’s winemaking tradition was

abruptly and ultimately stopped by the extraordinary 1966’s flood, that destroyed the vineyards, along with the traces of a millennial tradition.

Persistent as Dorona’s roots, that adapted to the lagoon’s salty conditions, Bisol started to grow the indigenous vine, producing a precious, scented, gold colored wine called Venissa.

While the place became famous for its elegant restaurant and more informal osteria, whose minimal cuisine is nowadays in the hands of the excellent chefs Francesco Brutto and Chiara Pavan, the current management, directed by Matteo Bisol, is working on ambitious projects that involve the whole group of islands.

Against the hit-and-run culture, based on visitors that settle for shooting Instagram selfies on the colorful Burano in a two hour tour, Venissa promotes a slow travel style. The Albergo Diffuso, or spread-out hotel, allows guests to enjoy the daily island’s life, getting in touch with residents, knowing their habits, hanging around their grocery stores, bars and restaurants.

Supported by a marine biologist, connaisseur of lagoon’s ecosystem, Venissa’s team was able to reintroduce the use of native plants and herbs, such as Santonico, or Artemisia Caerulescens, an aromatic herb, now used to brew a beer well paired with the indigenous artichoke. A red wine from Santa Cristina island’s grapes and compotes of fruits grown on the salty lagoon’s soil, are just part of a new range of natural products sold through, the twin website.

“If all we offer in Venice are fast food chains and sliced pizza, we can’t aim for a different type of tourism - says Matteo. We now work on creating a different demand, supplying goods and services that take time to be enjoyed, while preserving the authentic islands’ features and history”. In order to reach the goal, Venissa offers convenient packages that include accommodation and dinner at the osteria. A free boat ride to Mazzorbo is available at Santa Lucia railway station, so that, if you happen to live in Milan, within a few hours you can reach the wild lagoon, without worrying about transport and time schedule.

Fond as we are of the enigmatic islands, we’d like to encourage our guests to experience this charming adventure, including Venissa in our off the beaten path lagoon tours.

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