New hotels in the former convents of Venice. Remodeling work is resuming

In Cannaregio the Imeldine convent building and palazzo Seriman. Bed spaces have doubled in ten years: today there are 70,000

26 May 2021

By Alberto Vitucci

VENEZIA. Former convents becoming hotels, prestigious palazzi transformed into hotels – after the Covid pause the touristic transformation of the city has resumed. There are dozens of examples of new hotels that have now resumed work. And in the early months of 2022 they will be ready to offer new rooms.

Just in Cannaregio, in the radius of a few dozen meters, there are numerous grand palazzi where the work of transformation to a hotel has resumed. The most important is the gothic palazzo Giovanelli, with a monumental facade that looks out on rio di Noale, and the other side towards Santa Fosca, with the large garden from which the sculptor Giancarlo Comelato, heir of the historic marble laboratory Dall’Era, was evicted.

The Roman company Nuova Giovnanelli will open the palazzo, at one time the offices of Casa d’Aste Semenzato, in August of 2022, when it will become one of the biggest hotels in the city.

The same destiny is in store for several convents in the city. In campo San Canciano, the home of the Imeldine sisters, which also housed elementary and middle schools, has been deserted for years. It was purchased by the company “Rivus San Canciani srl”. The massive work of building restoration is getting started now and is supposed to finish in April.

It seems that nearby palazzo Seriman, former home of the Suore Ancelle di Gesù Bambino, is also destined to become a large hotel. Here too there once were schools attended by generations of Venetian children. One by one the sisters passed away, and now the mother Casa seems to have reached a sale agreement with a corporation.

Three years ago the residents and some committees launched an appeal to the City asking that it not grant the zoning variance.

But in reality buildings that are left empty follow the path to becoming a hotel. It happened a few months ago, with a zoning variance granted by the City Council for the buildings owned by the Figlie di San Giuseppe at Ormesini, and again for other convents like Sant’Elena, Sant’Alvise. It’s an acceleration that is not stopping, and which increasingly risks transforming the city into a “widespread hotel”.

There are dozens of palazzi up for sale and ready for a variance. There are many new hotels where the upfit work is almost done, like the large Ca’ di Dio, the former Casa di Riposo of Ire, with a view of the Bacino San Marco. Others became bequests in the past, for example the grand neogothic at the Salute, once the studio of the sculptor Scarpabolla, bequeathed to a Foundation in Treviso, which put it on the market. One by one the palazzi are transforming, so much so that the opening of new hotels isn’t even news anymore. It is happening in spite of the studies and proclamations on the need to limit tourism.

From the 2000s until today the number of bed spaces in the city has practically doubled. Today there are around 70 thousand, between the registered and the “off books”, divided into 30,000 hotel beds and 40,000 in other structures. The number of beds in 2000 was 27 thousand, and in 2010 they had already jumped to 47 thousand. Today, according to some estimates, there are over 70,000. In the case of the non-hotel beds, the sector most affected by the Covid crisis, this means an equal number of citizens expelled from the city to make room for the tourists.

Now many small businesses are unable to sustain the blow of the lost income from 2020 and are having trouble paying the mortgage. Many tourist lodgings and room rentals are therefore closed and for sale. This is not the case for the big hotels, almost always owned by the big national or foreign corporations.

Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre

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