For all its immutable charms—the 14th-century palazzi, the Byzantine basilicas, the narrow canals lined with gondolas—Venice is hardly bound by its history. Rather, the city on the Adriatic Sea has been carefully contemporizing, with transformative renovations and of-the-moment openings fueled by a new generation of entrepreneurs and artisans. This summer, as the jet set flocks to La Serenissima for the 57th Venice Biennale (May 13–November 26) and the 74th annual Venice International Film Festival (August 30–September 9), they’ll find the city’s renaissance in full swing.
Leading the way is the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a 13th-century gothic structure turned luxury shopping center designed by the Dutch starchitect Rem Koolhaas. Opened in October, the four-story space is a hub for such haute couture heroes as Fendi, Valentino, and Gucci; handmade treasures like Murano glass; and elevated cuisine from the Michelin three-star chef Massimiliano Alajmo.