Wondering What to Pack for the Venice Biennale? Here’s a List, Crowdsourced From Art-World Insiders
You'll want to bring your walking shoes.
With the Venice Biennale opening this week, we asked people in the art world a few questions to help us prepare. First: “What is most essential to pack for Venice?” Here’s what they said.
Paulina Bebecka, Gallerist
“Velvet, flat Friulane (or furlane) shoes. Everyone wears them, all over Italy. For all the miles to be walked in Venice, they are perfect—light and comfortable and chic; they could even pass for elegant in a pinch.
“It is said that people from Friuli have worn them since the 1800s. The Venetian gondoliers adopted them because of their grip and comfort, and because they didn’t ruin the wood of the boats. It is also said that Venetian nobility used them when they wanted to sneak around to find their amanti [lovers] in secret. They are truly silent little slippers.
“If you don’t have them, buy them when in Venice. The most popular store is ViBi Venezia.”
Maria Brito, Art Advisor
“The weather in Venice changes dramatically, from warm to rain to cold—on the same day—so definitely layers and outfits that work for these very different temperatures.”
Geoff Dyer, Author
“Simple: a notebook and pen to write down vaporetto times so you can arrive at the relevant stop with minutes to spare after dinners or parties—the service is extremely punctual, but somewhat sparse late in the evenings.”
Pari Ehsan (aka Pari Dust), Influencer
“In the spirit of dressing to heighten the discourse, most essential to me is to create an art and fashion pairing, an image to document our times. I will wear a look by Ukranian designer Bevza, whose current collection is characterized by water and nautical themes, to dialogue with Fountain of Exhaustion, artist Pavlo Makov’s kinetic sculpture, set to be exhibited in Ukraine’s pavilion—a message for hope.”
Heather Flow, Art Advisor
“My Issey Miyake kimono raincoat is critical! The rain in Venice can be cataclysmic.”
Aparajita Jain, Art Dealer
“Great shoes! Sometimes it’s hard to get boats, which means walking distances between shows. I like Loro Piana—Summer Walk.”
Melissa McGill, Artist
“An extra bag to bring home colorful pairs of my favorite Friulane slippers [by Piedàterre Venezia], with soles made of recycled bicycle tires.”
Nazy Nazhand, Art Advisor
“My collection of Nike Air Max sneakers and my Max Mara trench coat. The Biennale requires hours of walking and getting in and out of water taxis and vaporettos. Opening week is an endurance sport with unpredictable weather, and I’m ready for it.”
Eugenio Re Rebaudengo, Collector
“The most critical thing is to have planned a very precise itinerary of shows and events. So nothing is more important than your smartphone, with a well-organized Google calendar.”
Ermanno Rivetti, Gallerist
“I always like to bring something Venice-related to read—I call it full immersion. This time it’s Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark.”
Bosco Sodi, Artist
“The most essential thing on my packing list is good tennis shoes: the beauty of the city is to walk and walk and walk. And I always have my sketch book.”
Ellen Swieskowski, Entrepreneur
“I always pack a travel backgammon set. Smythson and Sabah both make nice roll-up versions that you can throw in a tote. Playing backgammon is a great way spend downtime between art viewings, and you just may make some new friends.”
Simmy Swinder Voellmy, Gallerist
“A portable phone charger! Who knows when you’ll have access to an outlet, and who wants to be far apart from their phone when coordinating an evening’s full schedule? A bonus is having one with multiple ports—you’ll be the most popular person at dinner.”
Hannah Traore, Gallerist
“At least a few pairs of glasses. I need to be able to see all the incredible art and landscapes; in a place like Italy, they also need to match my outfit.”
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