A half-hour boat ride northeast of Venice, and notwithstanding its connection to Burano (albeit via an impossible wooden bridge), Mazzorbo is one of the lesser islands in the lagoon, sparsely populated and happily overlooked by tourists. This is where you’ll find Venissa, an estate, an exclusive wine of élite promise, a restaurant and hostel, a bold project.
Behind the project are the Bisol family, wine growers for centuries in the Valdobbiadene area of the Veneto, and Alberto Sonino of the Vento di Venezia marina on the nearby Isola della Certosa. The idea was to restore the ancient estate of Venissa in Scarpa-Volo, reclaiming the land for its original purpose and creating a visitors’ centre for eco-tourism and sustainability in the singular lagoon environment.
In the renovated manor house, the hostel (open from March to November) has just 6 smart rooms, all with amazing views over the estate or the lagoon, and ample common areas. Architect Mariano Zanon has added a few traditional pieces to basically minimalist contemporary interiors with design details.
The restaurant is a beacon of culinary excellence under the direction of brilliant young chef Paola Budel, who adopts a strict zero-food-miles criterion. The menu changes almost daily as she applies true creative genius to local, seasonal produce: vegetables fresh from the gardens on the estate, fish from the lagoon or the northern Adriatic, and meats from selected sources in the Veneto. This is the hub of the estate, intimate and refined whether you eat inside the lofty dining room with its open kitchen and wall of steel and glass containing hundreds of bottles of fine and rare wines, or on the patio overlooking the vegetable gardens. And it won’t even cost you a fortune.
Closer still to the heart of the Bisol family is the estate vineyard, a sanctuary for vines of the ancient Dorona di Venezia grape, recovered from the brink of oblivion and now tended in impeccably trained rows on just one hectare of land. The unique varietal Gianluca Bisol has produced along with his brother Desiderio and expert winemaker Roberto Cipresso is getting not a little hype but also some auspicious and intriguing reviews: the first vintage is ready for release this month. Fewer than 5000 bottles have been produced, and, unless you invested in the futures, you can taste or buy Venissa only at Venissa. Now that could cost you a fortune.