One of the most memorable evenings imaginable was to dine along the Grand Canal in Venice. In a special dinner arranged for the Publisher’s Tour by Buddy and Marion Fortunato, the setting was made even more sumptuous for the travelers by an affair held in an exclusive palace located in the heart of San Marco. Few places in the world can compete with the setting and ambiance of this Palazzetto Pisani, a 400 year-old palace.
The dinner was a step back in time to the golden age of Italy, when all of the finest families engaged in the Grand Tour of Venice. Nearby is a classical music conservatory and Palazzetto Pisani seemed suspended between the haunting sounds of violins and the glistening waters of the Grand Canal.
Every room within the palace is distinct in its décor and no two are alike. Within Palazzetto Pisani, the group gained a sense of what life must have been like when the Palazzi were home to the royal families of Venice. The special dinner could not have had a more sophisticated air. Beginning with wine and Italian hors d’oeuvres on the balcony overlooking the Grand Canal, the atmosphere was as intoxicating as the prosecco. To the left was the Basilica della Madonna della Salute and Punta della Dogana; to the right, the Accademia Bridge, while the view ahead was of the Guggenheim Museum and opulent Palazzo Barbarigo. The dining room itself, the Salotto del Doge Grand Canal, was elegant and refined, with oil portraits lining the walls of ancestors and ancient woodwork crafted by 16th century artisans, providing the canopy for the dinner. Sixteen persons at a long banquet table with Venetian lace cloth and napkins, large silver candelabras, centerpieces of fresh flowers and a multitude of candles looked like a scene out of a movie.
Dinner began with a wonderfully-prepared Caprese Salad, with plump San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Primo piatta, was a delicious tortelli ala Genovese. This was followed by a green salad with radicchio from Venice to cleanse the palate. Guests then selected between branzino, a delicious Mediterranean sea bass or filet mignon. Each course was paired with a wine from the region of Veneto or Friuli Venezia Giulia. Dessert featured a choice of sorbetto di limone or tiramisu from Treviso, which like Venice, is in the Veneto region. All were in agreement; the evening represented a once in a lifetime experience.