Home Destinations Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience Review: A Unique Stay in a 16th-century Palace in Venice

Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience Review: A Unique Stay in a 16th-century Palace in Venice

Don't stay just in any hotel, wake up to frescoed ceilings and a 5-star breakfast

by Michele
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Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience Review
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Wondering where to stay in Venice? While there is an overwhelming amount of accommodation options to choose from, for a truly unique experience you can’t miss Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience.

Imagine sleeping in a lavish 16th-century Venetian palace with frescoed walls and ceilings, where every room tells a unique and special story and every ornament and piece of furniture is designed by a local artisan. Well, that’s exactly what staying at Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience feels like. This isn’t just a 5-star hotel, this is a museum that invites you to explore every corner of every room.

The History of Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience

Set over 3 floors, the building dates back to 1661 and was owned by the noble Bonfadini family. Later, when the Serenissima aka the Venetian Republic fell in 1797, the Bonfadini family left and moved to the mainland. It was then that the palace was subdivided and part of it was occupied by the Vivante family. It wasn’t until 1815 that they then bought the entire building and developed and enriched it with stunning frescoes that you still see today.

Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Building Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience Review - Sitting room Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience Review - View of Cannaregio canal from balconyIn the hotel foyer, there is a wonderful wall display that details the palazzo’s history including the Bonfadini and Vivante family tree.

Did you know that Ca’ as in Ca’ Bonfadini, is actually an abbreviation of “casa” meaning “house” or “home”. This is a term that Venetians used to refer to houses, especially those of noble families. Other examples include: Ca ‘Foscari, one of the lagoon universities, and Ca’ Rezzonico which is now a Museum dedicated to 18th century Venice.

Decadent furnishings and romantic frescoes

Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Sitting room with frescoes Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Stucco detail Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Murano Glass light fittingEach room is unique with its own story to tell. For example, I stayed in the Camera degli Sposi, which translates to the Newlyweds room. This was where Pietro Bonfadini stayed with his newly wedded wife Orsetta Giovannelli.

What is now the lounge room was the groom’s bedroom and the second room was the bride’s room. You’ll notice the difference in the frescoes between these two rooms. The groom’s room is filled with images of Roman monuments, representing strength and vitality, while the bride’s room features more romantic images. On the ceiling, there are four well-wishes written in French (the language of love) that are dedicated to the newlyweds.

Dama: The on-site restaurant 

Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Dama RestaurantCa' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Tables made from briccole woodWhen I say that no detail goes overlooked, here is just one example. The on-site restaurant is called ‘Dama’, which means ‘Dame’ or ‘Lady’, a name chosen after the Dames who would come here and also in honour of the city of Venice itself, which has always been considered female.

The tables in the restaurant have been beautifully re-imagined using the same wood to create the briccole – that is, the wooden poles you see planted in the Venetian lagoon that protrude from the water, indicating the navigable routes and canals and serve as mooring. But not just that, the first ‘briccola’ to be installed in Venice was actually called ‘Dama’, so the story comes full circle. It’s these details and historic references that make your stay at Ca’ Bonfadini truly special and unforgettable.

If you’re curious to know more about the building’s history, including that of your own room, don’t hesitate to ask the very friendly and accommodating staff. I received a lovely tour with both Carmela and Veronica upon arrival which really set the tone for my wonderful stay here.

Choose from an Italian-style or International Breakfast

Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Pancakes and berries for breakfast Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Avocado on toast for breakfast Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Continental breakfastWhatever you do, don’t skip breakfast! While most hotels in Italy only offer a continental breakfast which typically consists of cured meats, pastries and baked goods, fruits, toast, and coffee, that not’s for everyone. At Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience you can choose from either an Italian-style (i.e continental breakfast) or an international breakfast. Either option will give you a tasting-style experience with an assortment of seven small dishes plus a main course of your choosing. All the options are delicious so I recommend trying a different one each day. The first morning I ordered avocado on toast and the next two mornings I got the pancakes with berries.

I included my stay at Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience in my Venice travel video guide which you can watch here. 

The Location

Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - BuildingMany visitors to Venice tend to book their accommodation in the area between the Rialto bridge and St. Mark’s Square, making it the most populated part of the city all year round. During Venice Carnival and the warmer months especially, foot traffic in this compact area swells to the point of being uncomfortable and claustrophobic. So much so, that the police have to redirect people to quieter thoroughfares to ease the crowds.

During my month in Venice, I stayed in three different locations, two of which were close to St. Mark’s Square. However, my most tranquil accommodation was at Ca’ Bonfadini.

Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience is located in the sestiere (the local term for neighbourhood) of Cannaregio and overlooks the Cannaregio Canal, once the city’s main canal. The hotel is a comfortable 7-minute walk to the train station and less than a 5-minute walk to the nearest waterbus stop which runs services to the airport and towards the Rialto.

By staying at Ca’ Bonfadini you avoid the large crowds and can easily hop on a vaporetto (Italian for waterbus) that will take you to St. Mark’s Square via Giudecca island or to the Rialto Bridge along the Grand Canal, thus skipping the crowds.

If you prefer to walk, there are plenty of quiet and picturesque canals and calli (Venetian term for an alley) you can wander along to reach the Rialto Bridge area without the stress of crowds. 

Top tip: If you use Google maps to navigate on foot, it will also take you to the principal alleys that are also the busiest. Look out for quiet alleys along the way and let Google maps replot your route to your destination.   

Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience is also very close to the Ghetto, where the world’s first Ghetto was established and from where the term derives. This is an important area that deserves at least a day to explore. I recommend joining this dedicated Ghetto walking tour with Lucia, a local guide who does a fantastic job of bringing the history of this area to life.  Alternatively, you can join this Venice walking tour which includes other parts of Venice, not just the ghetto.

Facilities and amenities at Ca’ Bonfadini

Free WiFi is offered throughout the palazzo and all rooms are air-conditioned, featuring a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a safe, a minibar and tea and coffee making facilities. Each day you receive two bottles of water, both still and sparkling.

The rooms are spacious and some come with a seating area while others boast canal views. Your private bathroom has a shower (some rooms also have a bathtub), toilet, bidet, toiletries, bathrobe and slippers, hairdryer and even a hair straightener! There is also room service and laundry service.

Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Wardrobe

Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Coat hangers Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - BathroomCa' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Toiletries Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience - Tea and coffee making facilities ​How to book your stay at Ca’ Bonfadini

Ca’ Bonfadini is in high demand so it’s a good idea to book months ahead to avoid disappointment. Check availability and book your stay here.

How to get to Ca’ Bonfadini in Venice

The hotel’s address is: Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience Fondamenta Savorgnan, 462, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy.

From the airport: To get to Ca’ Bonfadini Historic Experience from the airport you can catch the Orange A line waterbus and get off the Guglie which will take 45-50 minutes. From here it’s just a 5-minutes walk over the Ponte delle Guglie to reach the hotel.

From the train station: As you exit the station, turn left and continue straight along Rio Terà Lista di Spagna. Next, turn left onto Calle de la Misericordia, turn right onto Calle Pesaro then continue onto Calle Riello Cannaregio. Finally, turn left onto Fondamenta Savorgnan which will bring you to the front of the hotel.

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Ca' Bonfadini Historic Experience in Venice - Review

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