The Secret Life of Aman Venice
Meet Giberto, Venetian artist and glass-smith, who happens to call the Aman Venice home. The Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga family had been living in Palazzo Papadopoli on Venice’s Grand Canal for the past 200 years when five years ago the ultra luxe hotel group, Aman, approached them with the idea to renovate the palazzo and turn it into their most exciting European hotel opening. With Giberto and his family remaining residents on the top floor, the palazzo has become one of the finest in Venice and arguably Italy.
Tell us about your home and its conversion from Renaissance palace into a 21st-century hotel?
When Adrian Zecha, the Aman founder, visited for the first time it was immediate that we had the same vision. Adrian went straight to the point – I was sceptical as I was determined to “stay at home”. Adrian said, “My guests will be delighted to meet you”, and here we are! After only one and half years’ renovation we moved back home! The house, Palazzo Papadopoli, is now fit for another 500 years – we are so proud and glad the vision has come true.
What is your favourite part of the palazzo?
My bedroom, the garden, the ballroom, the library, my studio… I love it ALL!
Favourite painting or objet d’art within the palazzo?
The Tiepolo frescoes in the Alcove. The Alcove is the room where the main bedroom was. This is where my mother used to sleep when I was a child. Angels fly over your head and mother of pearl glitters in the Terrazzo Veneziano at sunset. It is perfection; light and art together at their best!
How would you describe a typical day?
I love having caffè in the garden (or in the ballroom in winter) in the morning before moving on to my next steps. The day could be dedicated to AON Insurance Brokers where I am a board member and this could take me to Milano or Treviso. But then luckily I do manage to dedicate time to my creative programme, where I sail my boat to Murano and spend time with the Maestri working in the furnace on new designs, projects and mad and magical ideas for my glassware.
Where is your secret spot in Venice?
I sail my boat to Pellestrina for the day, have a great lunch in any small restaurant – spaghetti with clams – and then go and lie on the beach until I sail back home during sunset on the lagoon.
Where can a traveller in Venice experience the most authentic side of the islands?
May be Giudecca, Castello, Canareggio… the limbs! The thing to do is to dedicate at least an entire day with “no plan” – walk out there, get lost, enter every open door, church, museum and cloister; try to understand how this (Venice) can have happened!
Where in the world inspires you?
Inspiration is continuous as I am very lucky living in Italy and everyday is filled with new colours, materials, ideas, the light, the water, the sky, the houses…
Where is your go-to place for time with family and/or friends?
Greece and Uruguay, both places where nature is very strong with big blue skies. The light is strong and people are nice!
Please share with us one of your favourite highlights from the past 12 months.
My Paolina sculpture showing off at Masterpiece in London. Very proud!