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Letter from the Veneto, April 16, 2020


NEWS Travel editor Stanley Moss chats to Gianmatteo Zampieri, general manager of the Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venezia, on life in the fabled Italian city during the COVID-19 pandemic
April 16, 2020/11.01




Top: Webcam view of Piazza San Marco, April 15, 2020. Above: Nature is taking back its territory. At left, the paper sign taped to the dock reads, ‘Caution! Duck eggs.’ In the background of the photo at left, you can see the controversial Calatrava Bridge. At right, a pair of germano reale (wild ducks) have made a nest on the vaporetto dock.

This week we had the pleasure of a lively conversation with our old friend Gianmatteo Zampieri, general manager of the Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venezia. Currently all Baglioni properties in Italy, UK, France and Maldives are shuttered, but plan to reopen after the virus crisis resolves. The Baglioni Group’s main phone lines in Roma and Milano are open to receive queries, cancellations and rebookings.
   Though its doors remain closed, the Luna in Venezia has a skeleton crew on site attending to maintenance and security. Non-residents can’t get into town without an official document which declares the reason for their travel or presence. You’ll be stopped at the train station if you even try to enter Venezia, and the city is quiet and tranquil, with only the occasional pedestrian or military team in sight. Mr Zampieri recommends logging into the live cams at www.skylinewebcams.com/it/webcam/italia/veneto/venezia/piazza-san-marco.html for a real time view of Piazza San Marco and other Venetian locations. The Rialto Bridge is deserted, and uncrowded phantom vaporetti lazily float by. The St Mark’s Basin stands empty, with only stray small craft passing.
   ‘The Lagoon is like a mirror,’ Mr Zampieri said. ‘There’s not a boat to be seen, the water is crystal clear, and schools of little fish are swimming in the canals. We have a gondola landing at our entrance, and we are seeing little crabs crawling up the gondola poles. Ducks are nesting on the vaporetto docks, and laying eggs there.’
   Mr Zampieri has an optimistic perspective on all this. He says that following these difficult times we’ll be given a chance to return to a Venezia renewed, where the air and water are clean, landmarks uncrowded and Baglioni’s teams rested and ready to welcome back guests.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

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