Sunday, April 10, 2011



Arnette, Gail, Fernanda, Anna, Mario, Gary, his visiting sister and I met at their hotel that evening and planned to start a movable feast. We planned to begin at Harry’s Bar with its famous Bellinis (fresh, pureed peach juice and champagne). (Harry’s Bar got its English name because an American financed a struggling young waiter to open his own place, which he named Harry’s Bar in his patron’s honor.) 

I had planned the evening to include Harry’s Bar and Ristorante La Fenice. But being concerned that Harry’s would be packed on Saturday night, I thought of the Danieli, Venezia’s most famous deluxe hotel for our cocktail, as a fall-back possibility. Harry’s was packed, but we stayed to have those Bellinis—“Hat Pat” was already there, a Bellini in hand.  

Everyone loved them. As we were leaving, we saw George McGovern sitting in a corner with his wife and by then, "Hat Pat", so we talked with them for awhile. 

I took the group to the Hotel Danieli anyway, and everyone flipped. This magnificent old palazzo sits right on the Veniza Lagoon, a few steps from the Doge's Palace; it was built in the 14th Century;

its lobby is a bravado collection of arches, carved stonewalls and old artifacts. 

I inquired about the price of the cheapest single room—340,000 Lira ($225/night)!

We walked around in the Danieli, and I saw a rainbow plaid shirt in a Missoni display that I fell in love with. I decided I had to have it.

Off we went to La Fenice for dinner, a nice walk. We had a terrific dinner. Since I was fasting, super Arnette came up with an alternative suggestion, “Just get off on the aroma”—what an excellent idea! She’d pass the bread, pasta, etc. and I’d take a whiff.

  ---What Fun!

I had water and a Caffe Hag (decaffeinated coffee). We had a very nice outside, corner table—open on both sides. During dinner we experienced a thunderstorm, which smelled and sounded great. The lights went out for about 10 minutes! The waiters seemed unperturbed, and candles were brought for the tables.  Lots of lightening—it was thrilling. Since I had told a lot of people about La Fenice (I had been here with my friend, William Earl Murphy, years ago and remembered it fondly), two other tables were filled with members of our group. Gary sent “Hat Pat’s” table a bottle of wine. They sent us a whole cake! I took them our table flowers (they didn’t have any). They loved it!  Someone said, “Where’d they get these?” We all laughed. 

Then, we could tell they were conspiring to do something else, so we tried to decide what we should do next. I said, “Send the bill!” Before we did, we somehow got the impression they were going to send us their bill, so using Arnette’s idea, we composed the following note: “It’s outrageous. If we were you, we wouldn’t pay it either!” They did send us their bill on a silver platter with decorations. We immediately sent it back with our note; they were amazed how quickly we responded—a big success. What a riot!

During our walk to dinner that evening, I had shown everyone my newly found hotel. (My old one, the Torino, I had not liked: It was badly decorated: pattern upon pattern, ugly tsatskes, etc.) My new one, the Flora, is a delight; a small jewel with a lovely courtyard, tucked-away in the middle of Venezia, and very simply but elegantly decorated. 
When I had first seen Gary that evening he said, “I found a wonderful hotel I know you’d like”. Yes, it was the Hotel Flora

When trying to check out of the Torino, I had a confrontation on my hands. They tried to charge me for another day, because I had originally registered for nine days and was leaving after only two. They knew I was displeased with the hotel.  Besides being very ugly, I had discovered that they were charging me the double room rate of 75,000  (while the room rate posted on the back of the room door stated 53,000 for a single) plus 5,000 for air-conditioning—a total of more than  $60/night. Hotel Flora was only going to be 50,000 Lira a night total, and it was beautiful. Even the Monaco & Grand Canal, the group’s hotel, a first class hotel, was 90,000 for a single! They said they’d call the police, if I didn’t pay! I said, “fine” and plopped down in an pompous, overstuffed, gold, red and green sofa. They didn’t call the police and we finally compromised. What an ordeal!?!



Enno said...

wow! I like the ouside walls of Hotel Flora! That's unique :)

Don Voth said...

Yes, It was a beautiful hotel, full of surprises.

bobc said...

I loved Venice in the short time I was there. Even getting lost was a positive thing!

Don Voth said...

Sounds nice—getting lost in Venice!

Caliban said...

I am endlessly intrigued by the interior lobby and stair case of Hotel Danieli. It is sumptuous, inviting, delightful, intriguing, mysterious, haunting, magnificent, glamorous, glorious, magical and Heavenly -- all at the same time. For whom is the hotel named?

I found it amusing to think of George McGovern in Venice. Did he have a Bellini? What a small world. I once met Willy Brandt of Germany in Buenos Aires. It's so incongruous, I know.

Don Voth said...

It is composed of three palazzos. It was named after the third owner, Count Giuseppe 'Danieli' Dal Niel. It was built in the 14th Century by Enrico Dandodo, who conquered Constantinople and brought her treasures back to Venice! (Some of which are incorporation into the interior!)

Ron said...

I see all the flashes are working now on your blog.

Don Voth said...

On and off Ron.

teddy said...

The Danieli is beautiful. Wish I was there!

Don Voth said...

ME, TOO Ted.. Don