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Harry's Bar, Venice
Photograph: Wolfgang Moroder

Venice landmark Harry’s Bar says it will not reopen after lockdown

Italy’s bars and cafés are reopening, but the place that invented the bellini will not be among them

James Manning
Written by
James Manning

We’d give a lot to be in Venice right now, as government restrictions lift and one of the world’s most beautiful cities starts to come back to life. Italy’s cafés, bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen today, subject to social-distancing rules. But one of Venice’s most famous addresses – Harry’s Bar – won’t be among them.

The 89-year-old institution is famous for hosting writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote as well as for inventing beef carpaccio and the Bellini cocktail (now served at hiked-up tourist prices in a genteel, old-world atmosphere). But its proprietor has told local media that the new safety restrictions make it pointless for the bar near St Mark’s Square to reopen.

‘I won’t reopen on Monday,’ said Arrigo Cipriani, as reported in Corriere del Veneto. ‘With those guidelines, it is impossible. These are crazy conditions written by clueless people, and if they stay this way, we won’t be opening – not on Monday, not ever.’

New safety requirements in Veneto, the province containing Venice, require tables to be spaced two metres apart, with four metres of space per customer. Other stipulations include increased ventilation and mandatory reservations. Customers sitting together will also be asked to give details of their relationship to each other. The measures have been introduced to try and prevent a second wave of infection in the autumn.

‘I know I would have to lay off at least 50 employees out of the current 75 if I wanted to open like this,’ added Cipriani, who is the son of the bar’s founder Giuseppe Cipriani. ‘I am 88 years old – I could also retire at this point.’

Travel to Italy may soon be possible again – but if you’re already planing your trip to Venice, it looks like you’ll have to head elsewhere for that classic bellini.

More dolce vita? Visit Sicily this autumn and the island will pay for half of your flights. Plus you can rent the Italian villa from ‘Normal People’ on Airbnb.

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