Located between the Lido of Venice and Giudecca, just ten minutes by boat from St. Mark’s Square, the Island of San Clemente is today an exclusive and reserved location. It welcomes the five-star luxury hotel San Clemente Kempinski Palace and its beautiful gardens. It presents itself as a surreal reality, an elegant and refined bubble that dances on the Venetian lagoon, almost suspended in time. This surreal charm originates largely from its past: in fact, over the centuries, various realities have animated this island, each of them leaving a trace of itself, thus contributing to make the island unique.
The origins of San Clemente Island
In 1131, a rich merchant founded on the island a church with adjoining a shelter for pilgrims and soldiers headed to the Holy Land. Both of these buildings were run by the monks of St. Augustine, who led a peaceful and serene life on the island. At the dawn of the first sun, after the morning prayers in the church, they always met in the cloisters. The rituals of the prayers were marked by the gentle sound of the waves that caressed the island and thus released a gentle melody in the air. The same harmony that still cradles us today, while walking through the avenues of San Clemente Palace Kempinski.
During the following centuries, the Island of San Clemente became a place of welcome for illustrious men headed towards Venice. This was a pleasant and relaxing place where the nobles could taste the fresh sea breeze and admire Venice from another perspective, just before approaching it on board the Bucintoro.
From a convent to a military district
With the passing of the years, the different owners of the island always had a meticulous care for the maintenance of religious buildings. And thanks to these constant restorations, today we can still enjoy the church, which looks proud at the entrance to the San Clemente Palace Kempinski.
In 1797, after the fall of the Republic of Venice, there was a turning point on the island of San Clemente. Following the Napoleonic suppression of religious orders, the island became a military district in defense of Venice. The physical conformation of the island was perfect for welcoming soldiers and their fortresses. In fact, the soil has some hills from whose top they could control all the islands of the lagoon.
And if the soldiers came up to surprise their enemies, nowadays our guests admire breathtaking views on those same hills. Here they are, lands suspended halfway between the sea and the sky, where the colors mix and create a painting signed by the most generous painter ever existed, mother nature.
A real oasis of healing
In 1873, the island underwent its last transformation before taking on its current appearance. San Clemente hosted a female hospital complex. The lush flora on the island and its proximity to the mainland were probably salient features to choose it as a place of shelter. The silence and quiet that reign there would be optimal conditions for any kind of healing and treatment.
Nature has always been a source of life, energy and well-being. Precisely for this principle, even today they wanted to keep many natural elements at the San Clemente Palace Kempinski. Wide gardens extend along the island and various types of shrubs act as natural partitions between the external areas. The floral component is guaranteed and it inebriates every corner. Finally, there is a surprise inside an ancient cloister: a vegetable garden! Its genuine products delight guests’ palates.
A luxury hotel where history is still alive
And so we come to the present day. After a significant reconversion of all the external spaces and buildings, in 2003 the island hosts for the first time an exclusive luxury hotel. Many renovations have been done over the years, because there is a great desire to enhance the old charm and preserve the historical value.
Despite the passing of time, history still remains alive on the island. Walking through its gardens, you can still perceive the experience that has given value to this complex over the centuries.
Entering the church, which is actually the island’s essential constant, an unthinkable plunge into the past charms you. Walking through the luxurious corridors in the hotel, the windows offer you some surprising views on the internal gardens, where you can admire the cloisters of the ancient monastery.
Here the contamination between history and modernity culminates in luxury, giving unique emotions to the guests of the San Clemente Palace Kempinski.