Four industrial revolutions and the recent pandemic have remodeled the way we work over the last three centuries. Steam transported people to distant workplaces; electricity made longer working hours possible; technology brought globalization; automation replaced millions of jobs; and the pandemic freed us from the office, and gave us the chance to work from anywhere, including Venice and other cities.
Though it’s a big leap to include COVID-19’s effects on how and where we work with those of advances in power and technology, it has nonetheless resulted in a huge shift, both in thought and practice.
Wherever you walk in Venice, you will find inspiration and beauty. We have everything—nature, architecture, history, art and culture, gastronomy, great accessibility, and superfast broadband—Arnaldo Fusello
Millions of us took the chance to abandon office life for working somewhere new. Figures released by U.S.-based Emergent Research and MBO Partners indicate that the number of Americans describing themselves as digital nomads increased from 7.3 million to 10.9 million between 2019 and 2020—a rise of 49 percent—largely driven by people in permanent employment being allowed to work from anywhere. According to the survey, the number of digital nomads with traditional jobs rose by 96 percent in the same period, up from 3.2 million to 6.3 million.
The opportunity to work remotely has presented opportunities, not only for individuals and companies, but also for countries. Locations we had previously only flirted with on vacation enticed us thanks to social media photos of laptops on beaches, on mountain tops, in forests, or next to yoga mats—and then their governments laid out the red carpet, with compelling tax incentives and extended visas.
We are establishing strong relationships with local craftspeople, sports and art clubs, and language and cookery schools so that our members can participate in many local activities—Massimo Warglien
Most remote worker initiatives followed a very similar model, but this year, Venice launched its visionary Venywhere project, a collaboration between Ca’ Foscari University and Fondazione di Venezia, which aims to create an active community of people whose presence in Venice will not only enrich their lives, but also that of the city.
“There is great potential to do something truly innovative,” says Massimo Warglien, the platform’s general director. “We want to break the office, but not to replace it with the kitchen, or a co-working space, but with hubs throughout the city—in museums and art galleries, palaces, and piazzas—where our members can work, connect with others, and engage with the city. We want the work environment we create here to be fully flexible, permeable, redefining. Venice has a wonderful climate, so people can even work outside for eight months of our year.”
Warglien hopes that the digital nomads who take up the opportunity to live in Venice—more than 2,000 applicants registered within days of its launch—will become digital citizens.
“Our hope is that the people we attract will integrate. For as long as they are in Venice, it would be great if they lived here rather than merely worked here. To help them do that, we are establishing strong relationships with local craftspeople, sports and art clubs, and language and cookery schools so that our members can participate in many local activities, and are, of course, working with the best realtors to secure the best accommodation.”
Key among this is Dimora Italia Real Estate, a Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate. “We have built our reputation on matchmaking our clients with the most desirable properties in Venice,” says general manager Arnaldo Fusello. “When Venywhere approached us, we were very excited by what it aimed to achieve. What Massimo said resonated—he wants those who come to the city to work to invest in it, and to stay for six months, a year, preferably more.
“Like Massimo, we are keen to bring some balance to our housing market. Venice has a disproportionately large number of short lets, serving the millions of tourists who visit each year, but we are hoping that the interest from remote workers will help to convert some of these to long-term rentals, or even sales. It is our goal now to attract visitors who want to become part of a community, to enjoy all the riches Venice has to offer.”
Fusello says that although the focus is mainly on remote workers from overseas, there has also been interest from the domestic market in Italy. “Italians have also used the freedom working from home has given them to discover one of the most remarkable cities on Earth. I’d also like to add that, if people decide to buy rather than rent for the duration of their stay, then they will be making a good investment.”
The real estate market in Venice has been extremely active since Italy opened up, particularly in the prestige areas of San Marco, Dorsoduro, and San Polo. Prices are not quite where they were at the height of the property boom in 2006/2007, when they reached €10,000 ($10,525) per square meter, but they are rising fast and certainly look set to achieve those prices again.
“The premium neighborhoods are in very high demand, but to be honest, wherever you walk in Venice, you will find inspiration and beauty,” says Fusello. “We have everything – nature, architecture, history, art and culture, gastronomy, great accessibility, and superfast broadband. Within easy reach, there is hiking in the Dolomites, and we are in the heart of a lagoon that is magical and mystical. I will never tire of exploring its islands or traveling its waterways. I could go on and on. Just come and visit. You won’t want to leave.”
On the Market
Located in an elegant neighborhood in sought-after San Marco, this third- and fourth-story penthouse, with its beamed ceilings and parquet floors, was completely renovated in 2020. It has three bedrooms, two baths, a spacious dining/sitting room—perfect for entertaining new friends—and a roof terrace with spectacular views of some of Venice’s most famous landmarks, such as the domes of Santa Maria della Salute and Campanile di San Marco. On the market with Dimora Italia Real Estate, it is minutes from Campo Santo Stefano, Palazzo Grassi, and the Ponte dell’Accademia.
This charming three-bedroom, three-bath, canal-facing terrace house with a private garden, on the market with Dimora Italia Real Estate, is in Cannaregio, a district—or sestiere—known for its peaceful residential streets lined with cafés, and beautiful palazzi and landmarks. The home extends over three levels: on the first floor you’ll find the living area, kitchen, and one of the baths; on the second the bedrooms and second bath; and on the third, there’s an attic, with its own bath, which would make a great study or fourth bedroom.
The two roof terraces are among the many highlights of this wonderful attic property in San Polo, close to the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari and Ca’ Foscari University. Recently renovated to the highest standard, the residence has three bedrooms, one of which has its own dressing room, and three baths. It’s available from Dimora Italia Real Estate.
Banner: Grand Canal, Venice, Italy. Credit: Getty Images