Much has been written about the plight of Venice in recent years. The city, a series of 118 islands founded in the 5th Century, is a Unesco World Heritage site – a must-visit for any tourist travelling to Italy.
And herein lies the problem. A city that was once one of the world’s greatest trading powers and cultural forces between the 12th and the 15th Centuries can today seem like little more than a historical theme park. In the summer, it throngs with tourists disembarking from cruise ships – up to 35,000 a day, but few stay overnight. As a result, its hotels and restaurants have suffered and many residents have decamped elsewhere.
For those that stay, though, Venice remains a place of magnificent beauty. And right at its heart is Palazzo Molin – a 15th Century listed palace created for one of the city’s former leaders, Francesco Molin.
The building, which has recently been converted into 18 apartments by developer Patron Capital, is just around the corner from St Mark’s Square. Past tenants include composer Mozart, who was based in the building close to the city’s theatres and opera houses at the age of 15. One Italian scholar believes the composer wrote Don Giovanni based on one of the palace’s former owners, Count Francesco Falletti Castelmar.
Prices for the converted apartments start at €595,000 (Dh2.4 million), but the flagship is a piano nobile (the principle floor of a large house) apartment with three double bedrooms and three reception areas that is on the market for €4.9m (Dh19.7m). It has two standalone bathrooms and two en-suites, and 6m ceiling heights with double aspect views overlooking the Bacaroli canal at one end and a courtyard created by Milan design house Culti at the other.
Based within the middle of the Palazzo, it can (for the right price) also be combined with an adjoining apartment to create a mezzanine level that would add a further three bedrooms, plus another bathroom.
The building combines classic Venetian architecture, including a restored Gothic facade exterior, with contemporary finishes in doors, with apartments finished with marmorino walls and either Venetian terrazzo or parquet floors.
Access to the property, in true Venetian style, is via water taxis leading to one of two private gates leading to the palazzo’s entrance hall or its courtyard.
Anne Marie Doyle, head of Sotheby’s International Realty’s Venice office, tells Michael Fahy about the Venetian property market:
How has Venice’s property market fared over the past 12 to 24 months?
The rental market in Venice continues to hold its own, with much more demand for world-class restoration properties and prestigious palaces for rent. The sales market saw a period of relative inactivity up to 18 months ago, with most sellers preferring to wait for their price rather than sell. Venice has never been a distressed market for this reason. In the last 18 months we have seen a huge upturn in demand and more high value deals being done — almost to pre-2008 levels.
What about the tourist hordes?
Venice is a unique city which offers a relaxed lifestyle unlike anywhere else in the world. The authentic Venetian way of life has a wonderful sense of community and history, where children still play in the squares and people have time to stop for a chat or try some cicchetti (Venetian tapas) with a spritz. Of course tourism exists as in any great city, but you only have to go 50 metres away from the main areas to find the real Venice.
What are the running repairs or maintenance issues? Isn’t the city sinking?
The ground floor in Palazzo Molin is quite a way above the maximum level of acqua alta tides of recent years (a centuries old phenomenon), so the development isn’t affected in any way. In terms of maintenance, the restoration of Palazzo Molin has been executed to a very high level, so we do not expect that owners will have to worry about maintenance for years to come.
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