Immortal Venice: Harry’s Bar

Five Days of Food, Final Part: The Cipriani Legacy Thrives in the Floating City with Cocktails Fit for Hemingway and Capote

Arrigo Cipriani unravels the rich Venetian history and patronage of his father Guiseppe’s fabled Harry’s Bar, in this short from writer, director and NOWNESS regular Alison Chernick. One of the most celebrated restaurants in the world, and home to some of its driest martinis, the locale has been a favorite among Hollywood celebrities and literary notables since opening in 1931. Today the Ciprianis helm a veritable empire of clubs and restaurants across the globe, and the family's original venue was declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 2001. Yet Harry's Bar may be most widely known as the birthplace of two culinary treasures: beef Carpaccio, and the Bellini cocktail, both named after 15th century Italian painters. Shot one afternoon during the Venice Film Festival last September, Cipriani recalled the many eating—and drinking—habits of luminaires such as Orson Welles, Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway, whose 1948 novel Across The River and Into The Trees contains scenes set in the famed watering hole. Despite the establishment's lofty international appeal, the “Senator’s Table” is always reserved for long-time local patrons, recalling the heyday of European cafe society. “You feel as if you are a special guest in your own home,” says Chernick of the bar’s classic atmosphere. “The history just seeps through it.”

To view Arrigo Cipriani’s guide to making the perfect Bellini, visit our Facebook page here.

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Conversations (2)

  • jtay
    I love Harry's Bar in Venice. You need to look beyond the crowd and enjoy the simplicity of the place. Italians have such an eye for elegance and it's no better represented than in this place. A trip to Venice is not complete without a Bellini at Harry's.
    • Posted By jtay
    • May 29, 2014 at 3:55AM
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  • xnoelle
    I visited Harry's Bar last summer. I'm an artist that loves being in bars, so naturally I wanted to check it out. However, when I walked in with my party, all I saw were dry, white, middle-aged tourists who look like they came in solely because it was the "prestigious" thing to do when in Venice. It was very uncomfortable and small and the drink prices were too inflated for what is now known as one of the more inferior places to get a bellini in Venice. This short seems lovely, but I do thing that the owners are a bit out of touch. I doubt Hemingway would come in if he had seen it today.
    • Posted By xnoelle
    • May 27, 2014 at 8:31PM
    • Share Comment:

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    Collected Harmony

    Cult Filmmaker Harmony Korine On Cinematic Beginnings and How He Plans to Attack You

    Director Harmony Korine muses on early inspirations, subconscious impulses and his evolving ideas of filmmaking in Dustin Lynn’s intimate portrait shot during The Venice Film Festival in early September. Catapulted onto the indie film scene in the mid 1990s aged just 18 after writing the screenplay for Larry Clark’s controversial Kids, Korine cemented his reputation for pushing aesthetic and narrative boundaries by directing a string of cult classics including Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy and the provocative VHS camcorder-shot horror Trash Humpers. Lynn spent the afternoon exploring Lido with the Nashville-based director ahead of the star-studded Spring Breakers world premiere in the festival's prestigious Palazzo del Cinema venue. The Florida-set, porn-pulp crime tale stars James Franco as a gun-toting gangster presiding over a bevvy of delinquent beauties including Disney Channel darlings Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. “I'm not sure a lot of the older people in the audience understood the feeling the film was giving them,” observes Lynn. “But such is the way from one generation to the next, like Elvis's hips were the devil not too long ago.” Cinematographer Benoît Debie’s sun-blasted neon exteriors and a pulsating electronic score by Cliff Martinez accompany Korine’s derisive commentary on the American Dream, materialism and the youthful search for self. “It is a disturbingly beautiful work of art and I found myself recalling images and scenes weeks after,” notes Lynn. “It just stays with you.”

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    The Drums: Money

    The World Premiere of the Indie Pop Band's Surreal New Video

    Inhabiting a universe in which tea parties are ripe for the crashing and Fidel Castro lookalikes can be found lazing about parks, M Blash’s video for the Drums’ infectious new single “Money” brings frontman Jonathan Pierce's wistful lyrics to life. "It's absurdist," says Blash of the clip, which was filmed in and around the city, from Chinatown to Queens to the West Side Highway. The Smiths-indebted tune is the first off the Brooklyn outfit's much anticipated second album, Portamento, which sees the surf rock–inflected three-piece retain the sonic giddiness that has become their hallmark, while adopting a more confessional tone. "Things have become more personal," says Pierce. "On our first album we romanticized everything. Portamento is rooted in honesty." Originally from Florida, the Drums burst on to the music scene in 2010 with their freewheeling Summertime EP before releasing a self-titled debut that went on to sell 200,000 albums. A member of the prestigious Director's Bureau, Blash has created music videos for the likes of Final Fantasy (aka Owen Pallett), as well as writing and directing the 2006 Cannes-screened feature Lying, starring Chloë Sevigny. We asked Pierce to talk monetary inspiration.

    How would you sum up the song's meaning?
    It's essentially about trying and failing, but with a heart that is mostly sincere.

    What prompted you to hook up with M Blash to direct the video?
    I met M. about a year ago at Gus Van Sant's house in LA. At the time we were directing all our own videos, but with the new album we wanted to bring in talented people who really get what our band is about.

    The lyrics to "Money" talk about doing something nice before you die. What's your view on the afterlife?
    Hell was always too scary and heaven always sounded too boring. Life is better without those things, and so is death.

    What would you buy a loved one if money was no object?
    It depends on who it is. I'd like to buy [guitarist Jacob Graham] a Roland 505 string and organ synthesizer. It's his dream. I must say after playing one, I wouldn't mind having one myself.

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