2019 Venice Biennale

In Venice, a Gelato Shop Serves Up the Sea

Sorbetto al Mare Adriatico.


The Palazzo Ducale in Venice is currently hosting “Canaletto and Venice,” an exhibition rich with paintings of the city, its waterways, and boats, the largest of which would head out of the Venetian Lagoon, into the Adriatic Sea, to other places in the republic or to points beyond.

Elsewhere in the city, at the long-running Gelateria Alaska, the Adriatic is the central focus of an artwork. Working with Carlo Pistacchi, the shop’s proprietor, the Los Angeles–based artist and poet David Horvitz have conceived of a sorbet based on the flavor of that ancient sea. How did they do this? By using the water of the Adriatic, naturally.

I stopped by on Wednesday, tried a cone, and found it to be quite lovely—intensely (but not too intensely) salty, balanced with a modest dosage of salt. Pistacchi has whipped up the sorbet into a cloudy, almost mousse-like texture—it is almost like foam atop waves—and it is very fun to eat. It’s also a satisfying color—just very slightly off-white.

The treat is part of a multifarious project by Horvitz called “435 Bridges and Some Shortcuts,” supported by the Lab’Bel Arts and Cultural Fund, that also involves organ performances, a guided tour, postcards, live events, and more. (Here’s a complete map of the action.)

A single scoop at Alaska is only €1.50 (about $1.68)—the price of gelato and sorbet in Venice never ceases to amaze—and the shop is conveniently located a short stroll from the Prada Foundation and Ca’ Pesaro. It’s well worth a detour. When will you next be able to taste the Adriatic Sea on a sugar cone?

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