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04/17/24: Where a Travel Pro Would Escape this Summer

As a cofounder of Le Collectionist, a company that rents villas, chalets, and estates across Europe, Max Aniort believes in holidaying like a local.

April 17, 2024 By MAURA EGAN
Max Aniort. Photo: Edouard Jacquinet

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Where a Travel Pro Would Escape this Summer

As a cofounder of Le Collectionist, a company that rents villas, chalets, and estates across Europe, Max Aniort believes in holidaying like a local, whether that’s renting a party palace in Ibiza or a ski-in, ski-out hideaway in Verbier. While many of Le Collectionist’s customers are on repeat and rent the same spots again and again, there are still some stunning properties for the summer. But where to go? I asked Aniort about some of his favorite summer spots and properties still available and slightly off the radar.

Cap Ferret, France
Although Paris-based Aniort spends a lot of time in Marseille, he would opt for Cap Ferret over the French Riviera during the summer. Just an hour from Bordeaux on the southwestern coast of France, Cap Ferret is often referred to as the Nantucket of France. It’s where the old French families summer, which makes it the exact opposite of the blingy beach-club vibes of the French Riviera. “My favorite house is Villa Omnia in the heart of the pine forest,” says Aniort. “On the outside it’s a typical Cap Ferret cabin-style house, but the interior is elegant, chic, and quite English in its style.” He suggests exploring the area by bike, stopping for lunch at Chez Hortense, and enjoying some fresh oysters directly from the sea. To discover the basin, he advises renting a pinasse (a small fishing boat) to tour the waters.

Sifnos, Greece
“I adore Sifnos. It’s an island for foodies. I would stay at Villa Indigo, which at first glance may not seem the most exciting villa design-wise, but it’s a true holiday home with a view. It’s also located near the town of Platys Gialos beach, where you’ll find the best seafood restaurant on the island, Omega3. If I want a change from Greek cuisine, I like Mamma Mia for Italian fare. My favorite beach is Vathi, which also has an excellent low-key taverna, Taverna Manolis.”

Provence, France
“There are so many beautiful villages, like Alpilles and Luberon, but I would stay at Villa Sigala near Lourmarin. It’s simple and chic, with a slightly bobo decor. It is also the ideal place to stay with a family, as there are kids’ rooms as well as a playroom. Outside there are breathtaking views, and you can enjoy total silence—except for the cicadas. Visit the Lourmarin outdoor market on Friday mornings. Ravi’s ice cream and fruit cakes are a must. If you’re here in late August, check out the Yeah music festival at Lourmarin castle, which was started by the DJ Laurent Garnier. The Arles photo festival is also a must. If you are there, dine at either Voltaire or Chardon for bistronomy vibes. Don’t miss the Château La Coste; there’s an excellent art park with pieces by Tadao Ando and Louise Bourgeois, as well as a great vineyard.”

Scenes of Venice from journalist and lensman Chris Wallace.

Canal Plus: An Insider Look at Venice

The Venice Biennale opens on April 20th and runs until November. It’s one of the best backdrops in the world to see art, in my opinion. This year’s Biennale explores the theme “Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere” and features artists from diverse backgrounds and marginalized groups across national pavilions and historic venues. But there are so many other exhibitions and events happening that attendees will have a chance to visit far-reaching corners of the city. This can prove challenging at times because Venice is a hard city to navigate for visitors. It’s always been a very insular, hidden place, so I asked several people who know it well to give me their inside track.

Christopher Bollen, Author
My friend Chris Bollen first lived in Venice in the summer of 1999, at age 23, when he interned at the Peggy Guggenheim and lived in a little garden apartment off Campo Santa Margherita. He has been back many times since and even set his wonderful 2020 novel “A Beautiful Crime” in the city.

Al Vecio Marangon: “There are restaurants of all shapes and stripes in Venice, but it’s surprisingly hard to find a cozy, off-the-beaten-path spot with a premier kitchen that doesn’t feel designed for tourists. Al Vecio Marangon, a small restaurant hidden off the main drag in Dorsoduro, has some of the most delicious pasta dishes around.”

I Gesuiti: “There are a number of reasons to visit I Gesuiti, a decadent Baroque church on the northern edge of Cannaregio. Not least of all because of the solemn Titian painting of ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence.’ But the main attraction for me is the stonework in the nave, and in particular the green-and-white marble patterning on the floor that cascades down the steps and gives the mesmerizing illusion of fabric—the best wall-to-wall carpeting ever made. In my novel, this is the church that the main character, Nick, visits on his second day in Venice researching the target of his con.”

Rialto Fish Market: “Everyone goes to the Rialto Bridge, and yes, that’s beautiful, but just west of it on the south side is the Rialto Fish Market, where the real Venetians go every morning to buy their aquatic provisions. Even if you aren’t planning on cooking up specialties from the lagoon, it’s an ideal ‘authentic living’ moment. This is where I set the meeting of Nick and West, insinuating himself in the older man’s Venetian routine.”

Giorgio Mastinu Fine Art: “When you’re tired of shopping for Murano glass, check out Giorgio Mastinu Fine Art, an offbeat modernist design boutique. In two small storefronts down the street from each other, Giorgio Mastinu hosts some wild miniature design shows, including work by Venice’s favorite native architect, Carlo Scarpa.”

Il Palazzo Experimental: “Afternoon drinks outside Il Palazzo Experimental hotel on the Zattere: A spritz and some delicious cicchetti are an afternoon staple of the Venetian diet. This boutique hotel that opened up in a former palazzo offers tables outside for early-evening drinks and offers a sweeping view of Giudecca across the water and the old (and still-running) Fortuny fabric factory.”

Alma Zevi, Curator
Zevi is a multi-hyphenate art world figure who recently wrote a monograph on the artist Not Vital. Before that she ran a gallery and art consultancy in Venice where she worked with various artists and creatives, like Katy Stubbs and the designers Charlap Hyman & Herrero, on projects throughout the city.

Yali Glass: “This place has a new concept space where you can shop their stunning Murano glassware, have a cup of tea and freshly baked cake in a hidden courtyard, and wander into interesting exhibitions in their project space. The inaugural exhibition includes Martino Gamper, Karl Fritsch, and Francis Upritchard.”

Basilica dei Frari: “One of my favorite churches is the Basilica dei Frari, located in the Campo dei Frari. It’s the largest church in the city. It has a plain exterior, but don’t miss Bellini’s extraordinary triptych.”

Procuratie Vecchie: “There’s a beautiful, eye-opening exhibition about Robert Indiana, bang in the middle of Piazza San Marco at the new Kunsthalle in the Procuratie Vecchie, designed by David Chipperfield. I learned so much in this show!” [Editor’s Note: Check out our podcast with Chipperfield about this massive renovation.]

Osteria Giorgione da Masa: “This restaurant is the brainchild of the young chef Masahiro Homma (‘Masa’), who showcases his Japanese spin on Venetian cuisine using delicious local ingredients from the Rialto Fish Market.”

Lido: “Named after the iconic beach here in Venice, Lido is a super-cool homegrown Venetian brand making the chicest swimwear. They’re opening a pop-up during the Biennale (open from April 16 until the end of July) on Calle delle Botteghe. It’s located next to another favorite, the Laguna B store, started 30 years ago by Marie Brandolini and now taken over by her son Marcantonio, who is a brilliant artist in his own right.”

Chris Wallace, Journalist
Chris Wallace is a friend and a truly intrepid travel writer and lensman. He’s one of my favorite flaneurs, so he’s always good for finding off-the-beaten-path gems, which is really what you want in a place like Venice.

San Giorgio Maggiore: “It’s not just the Aperol haze, wandering from one Biennale party to another—the layout of Venice is terrifically suggestive of Borges and his labyrinths. So much so that there is an actual tribute, in the form of a hedge maze, to the Argentine on San Giorgio Maggiore, which can provide a nice escape from the crowds during the hectic season.”

Trattoria da Romano: “I love this restaurant on Burano. It’s rightly famous for its seafood risotto, and the place itself is worthy of a pilgrimage.”

San Michele Cemetery: “There are pilgrimage sites aplenty at San Michele Cemetery: Igor Stravinsky is there, as are Sergei Diaghilev, Joseph Brodsky, and Ezra Pound. But even more than the communion with the old souls there, it is the feeling you get on the island, of a kind of typically Venetian haunted glamour and decay, that is one of my favorite things about the town.”

Hotel Flora: “My favorite place to stay in the center of San Marco is the great hidden gem that is Hotel Flora. The cool stone courtyard wrapped in curtains of greenery is a blissful getaway from the madness, and each of the little vignettes, from the reception stand to the two-seat bar, and every vantage point in the rooms—all of which were so memorably captured by Sophie Calle in her great book ‘The Hotel,’ which she made while working as a chambermaid here—are so wonderful.”

Oh, and… “If you are looking for incredible and totally wacky gifts and creations, do visit Alessandro Merlin and his store of charming, slapstick, and pornographic ceramics. I’m going to catch hell for this one, but gatekeeping be damned, the real gondolier slippers are at Friulane Dittura, and they are perfect.”

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