Where were you born, and where do you live now?
In Venice. The memories I cherish most are my early years, when I had complete freedom from an early age. The city was my playground and the streets became an extension of home. After many years abroad, I now live in the same palazzo where I was born. It has been in my family for generations and it is a great privilege to live there.
If money were no object, where would you live?
I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else than Venice, in my Palazzo Mocenigo. Saying that, I love to travel and I’m constantly searching for new cultures, places and people.
Which city is your favourite shopping destination, and why?
New York. It’s been my favourite place to shop for years. The city offers so much, from high-end luxury brands to authentic small labels. Venice has a similarly diverse shopping experience, with a focus on authentic and artisanal products.
Which are your favourite Venice shops?
At Studio Arnoldo e Battois, two young designers and architects, Massimiliano Battois and Silvano Arnoldo, design stunning handbags and eclectic clothing at their new boutique, using the most divine leather. The Attilio Codognato historic jewellery house continues to make original designs, such as snake bracelets that coil around your wrist.
And your favourite Venice restaurants?
De Pisis at the Bauer Palazzo. There is nothing better than dining on the restaurant’s terrace, overlooking the Grand Canal, with an amazing view of Santa Maria della Salute. You can even hear the sound of lapping waves; it feels as though you are dining on a boat. This is a gourmet experience with an inventive blend of Venetian and Mediterranean culinary traditions.
The Venissa is situated on the island of Mazzorbo, just a stone’s throw from Burano. It is surrounded by greenery and vegetable gardens that supply the restaurant. The young female chef at the helm has made this one of the most recent successes on the Venetian lagoon. Al Covo, located near the historic Arsenale, was opened in 1987 by husband and wife Cesare Benelli and Diane Rankin. Drawing on the wide variety of regional produce, the restaurant takes an experimental approach to its cuisine. It is a must-visit for the many gourmets who visit Venice.
Do you have a favourite local café or bar?
Caffè del Doge, for their sheer passion for coffee.
Which local shop are you most likely to be found in?
The daily Rialto fruit and fish market, for its colours and crowded counters.
Where do you take out-of-town friends?
I always take visitors to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, to visit the bell tower with its astonishing view all over the city. And also to the Arsenale, where the Serenissima had its shipyards.
Where do you like to celebrate?
Quadri in the historic Piazza San Marco probably tops most people's list as the perfect venue for an intimate meal. Star chef Massimiliano Alajmo reopened the restaurant in June 2011.
Do you have a favourite Venice walk?
Around the Castello and Giudecca districts.
Which is your favourite view in the city?
From the bell tower on San Giorgio island, opposite Piazza San Marco.
How do you relax?
Going by boat across the lagoon, running on the Lido beach, visiting country vineyards.
Can you reveal any hidden spots?
Campo San Felice.
What’s the best-kept local secret?
The Venice ghetto.
What is your latest local discovery?
An organic grocery store.
Which do you think is the best landmark in the city?
The Palazzo Ducale.
Which do you think is the best museum in Venice?
The Gallerie dell’Accademia.
Which Venetians do you most admire?
All the many artisans that still work in Venice. I am inspired by their passion for their work and pride in their heritage.
What secret or insider tip would you offer for exploring the city?