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Shiso, infusions and crispy fennel petals

Travel editor Stanley Moss returns to the Baglioni Hotel Luna
Photographed by Paula Sweet
April 22, 2019/8.30

Perhaps the oddest contradiction for habitual travellers concerns the return to favourite places. We seek a consistent experience visit after visit, yet we also long for healthy transformation, fresh ideas. Thus it’s a joy to rediscover things that haven’t changed, and encounter signs of springtime renewal at Venezia’s Baglioni Hotel Luna, one of our favourite places in the world.
   Arrival to the Luna by water is a must, transiting the Grand Canal lined with antique palaces, followed by a quick glide to the private landing steps away from Piazza San Marco. So much of what we love remains in place: the opulent headboards and wall coverings, the classic colour scheme of cream and gold, tasteful door markings (none of that intrusive modern typography in the wayfinding!), the heroic Murano chandeliers in the Marco Polo Ballroom which doubles as the breakfast room, the way light refracts from a crystal lamp in the Canova restaurant, and the meticulous arrangement of forks in the dinner service. But our eye wanders to what is new: a modern in-room graphic which shares a seasonal recipe, and introduces a new chef, Massimo Livan, a native Venetian well-versed in the traditional tastes of the lagoon.
   Visitors to Venezia tend to overlook the fact that some of the greatest dining experiences will be found in hotel restaurants. Chef Livan brings a new, progressive and youthful vision to the Canova kitchen. He’s integrated many of the tricks of molecular gastronomy into the new menu, combining native offerings of the Veneto with semifreddos, infusions, feathery mousses and enhancements like currant vinegar, rhubarb, shiso, passionfruit sauce, nettles, raspberry powder, cocoa nibs and crispy fennel petals. One presentation featured strawberries raw, frozen, freeze-dried and in a delicate sauce. You can recognize all the flavours in these artful innovations which showcase the harvests of the sea. Perhaps we are witnessing the birth of a new institution.
   Venezia isn’t only for sleeping and eating. You must save time for aimless walks, for the leisurely coffee taken in a secluded campo somewhere off the beaten path, or a chance encounter with a secret museum tucked away on a hidden canal. In an ancient city where so much history resides, the old gracefully embraces the new. Where the classics don’t change there is always opportunity to bring forward vibrant ideas, much like those at the Baglioni Hotel Luna, the Canova restaurant and its romantic setting in the everlasting serenissima.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

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culture / Lucire / Milano / travel / Volante
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