Where: Venice, Veneto, Northern Italy
When: September for the International Film Festival
Activities: Admiring Art Noveau and Art Deco architecture and an International Film Festival
Remember to bring: Your camera and a well-stocked wallet
Background to Venice’s The Lido
The Lido is by far the most glamorous of the lagoon islands, one that has lent its name to countless bathing establishments and clubs all over the world. On its eight miles of beaches, poets, potentates and plutocrats at the turn of the century, spent their holidays making the lido the pinnacle of Belle Epoque fashion. But style doesn’t come for free: most of the beaches are private except for Venice’s one free beach, Spiaggia Comunale, which is on the north part of the island, a fifteen minute walk from the vaporetto (boat) stop.
The Lido forms a land barrier between the lagoon and the Adriatic Sea. For centuries the Venetians made an annual pilgrimage here to carry out Venice’s Sposalizio del Mar(Wedding with the Sea) ceremony by dropping a ring into the shallows, celebrating the city’s relationship with the tides.
Things to see and do in The Lido
Today it is both Venice’s seaside resort and city suburb. At the turn of the century the Lido was a playground for the rich and famous, but nowadays you’re more likely to find a more serene suburban lifestyle. However, fans of Art Nouveau and Art Deco can still be treated to some turn-of-the-century opulence. On Gran Viale there are two gems: the tiled façade of the Hungaria Hotel (formerly the Ausonia Palace) with its nymphs – reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley, the illustrator of Oscar Wilde’s Salome – and Villa Monplaisir with Art Deco designs dating from 1906.
International Film Festival @ The Lido
Nowadays, the only moment when the place stirs to anything like its former liveliness is at the beginning of September when the International Film Festival rolls into town. Venice has a cinematic history, it has been used as a backdrop to many blockbusters – ‘ Death in Venice’, ‘The Merchant of Venice’, ‘Don’t Look Back’ and even ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ were all filmed here. The event was inaugurated in 1932 under the auspices of the Biennale and was so successful that the impressive marble and glass Palazzo del Cinema was built four years later where official competition screenings take place. Here you can line the red carpet along with Venetians, tourists and the media to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood stars. The Festival is a showcase for premiering feature films, with the Golden Lion being awarded for Best Film. Films are shown day and night in numerous venues and tickets are sold outside so you don’t have to be an A-list Hollywood star to enjoy the event.
Venice Film Festival
Official website for the Festival del Cinema.
By Nicole Dudley