Little Venice in McKinley Hill

Last weekend my family and I visited Venice Piazza at McKinley Hill. Inspired by Italy’s Piazza San Marco, this place has been open to the public for years. It now has a mix of Italian, Mediterranean, and international restaurants, and a small concert arena where a local celebrity happened to be holding an album launch when we visited.


My cousin Francine posed by the clock tower inspired by the Italian St. Mark Campanile.

A short walk away is the Grand Canal Mall. Even if there aren’t any open establishments yet, the place was abuzz with visitors and their selfie sticks. “What’s all the commotion?” I wondered. Then I spotted this view:



The Grand Canal Mall opened its doors to the public late last year. The shop spaces are covered in tarpaulin for now. To attain that genuine European vibe, I sure hope there are more outdoor cafes and quaint shops instead of the usual chains that saturate the market.

People walked down the Venice-inspired Grand Canal with a view of gondolas parked on the corners. Lit towers overlooked the open-air mall, and peopled huddled by the Rialto Bridge.

I saw the blueprint for this mall many years ago when Mckinley Hill was just a new commercial joint. I remember when Venice Piazza had only a clock tower inspired by Italy’s St. Mark Campanile and just a few coffee shops. To be honest, I didn’t think they could pull off the Little Italy vibe. I even thought the Gondola river cruise idea was scrapped because it had been many years since those illustrations were showcased to the public.


Rialto Bridge


My mom and I hammed it up at the fountain area


This isn’t the real gondola river ride. I just hopped into one of the props at Venice Piazza. The pay-per-ride service will be available soon.

It looks like they pulled it off. By the looks of the crowds that flocked to the place that Sunday night even if there aren’t even any shops yet, the Grand Canal Mall makes a promising alternative to the eco-unfriendly malls domed in full air-conditioning. This place reminds me of the Las Vegas strip, where global destinations such as France and iconic periods such as the Roman Empire inspired the architecture. I can’t wait to see how everything unfolds—and most of all, pay for a gondola ride. I can already hear “O Sole Mio” playing in my head.

January 19, 2016


  1. kim wrote:

    I love the theme of the place but it gets over crowded. As in one time pumunta ako with my family but we were not able to take a glimpse of the grand canal kasi dun palang sa entrance hindi na makapasok. I hope na iopen na nila yung ibang shops sa loob para malessen yung tao sa bridge and we can explore more attractions as well.

  2. I’ve heard there were lots of people pa visiting there so we’re waiting for the hype to pass before going there. But I really love the theme. I hope there will be lots of exciting shops that will open. 🙂

  3. Nice photos Ate Kate 🙂 been there last year but dont have a good shot. Kainis. Haha. What camera po do you use?

  4. Brenda wrote:

    I love how the Grand Canal looks like, so’s really amazing, I wanna have a boating moment there.???

  5. Ericka S wrote:

    Woooaahhh! Super ganda! Will visit this place soooon! 🙂

  6. My family and I visited the “trending” Grand Canal Mall last December before my brother’s flight to Dubai. I was kind of disappointed since the place is not fully furnished yet they already opened it. But hopefully, next time na pagpunta namin, open na yung most of the shops and services to maximize our visit ?

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