Venice is always a new experience; every time you return, you discover some new aspect to it, even if you were born there as I was. I have been invited by Sofitel to visit their new project – the transformation of the isle of San Casessola, opposite San Marco, into a hotel and resort centre specifically designed to meet the needs of the conference circuit. It struck me as an interesting initiative, coming, as it does, immediately after the one by Turin Hotels, which recently bought the nearby isle of San Clemente, to transform it into an important complex characterised by a strong emphasis on beauty. Within a short period of time, a town generally indolent in terms of hotel development has launched two projects of high standard and large receptive capacity. What has happened? Our country is rich in unknown and unutilised facilities, and these two islands are an example of it. Thanks to its particularly favourable microclimate, for instance, the isle of San Cassesola was used for decades for the treatment of pulmonary diseases. As lung affections dwindled and virtually disappeared with the passing of years, in 1985 the health-care complex was made to close down. The island had been uninhabited ever since, except for the presence of paid caretakers guarding its premises. Like in these cases, there are many other areas in this country which will lend themselves to intelligent recovery projects. The current tendency to divest state property of great value, both in terms of landscape and as buildings which are no longer operative (and there are many such cases), allows to endow our hotel heritage with absolutely unique proposals – for example, the view from the terrace of the new Sofitel, embracing both San Marco and the Lido, is priceless. Some people fear – maybe rightfully so – that the current state policy may make havoc of our artistic heritage, as has already happened in the past. If the resulting actions, however, are similar to the projects realised on the two islands of the lagoon, then the outcome will certainly be a positive one for the enterprises, the workers, and the tourism system of our country.
New opportunities arising from divestments
Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 4 Ottobre 2002