Venice- The Floating City, City of Water, City of Masks, City of Bridges, City of Canals, Serenissima (The Most Serene), lived up to all of its pet names.
Simply arriving into the city was spectacular. A well worth it splurge, booking a water taxi is a treat in and of itself. The boats feel luxurious and speeding away from the airport followed by stream of wake was so exhilarating- I knew this was going to be an amazing city!
Our driver carefully maneuvered from the grand canal to a smaller one where our hotel was perfectly situated. The Palazzetto Madonna was even more ornate and magnificent than I expected.While it was tempting to lounge around and enjoy the lovely room, there was so much to explore in so little time! We set out for a walk with no real itinerary which was fortunate, because we had to stop every ten feet to take in the scenery and beautiful bridge after bridge.
No time was wasted and we quickly scoped out a spot for spritzes and cicchette– when in Venice! Cantinone Gia Schiavi was a great choice in Dorsoduro, a neighborhood where we kept finding ourselves wandering around. After miraculously navigating our way back to the hotel (I’ll bet Christopher Columbus couldn’t go mapless!), we got ready for dinner, had a quick coffee, and headed towards Castello. We worked up an appetite on our walk, in part because we took about 16 wrong turns (seriously, just leave your phone at home!). Dinner at L’Osteria di Santa Marina was so nice, but drinks afterwards was my favorite part of the weekend. On our aimless stroll back, we stumbled upon a small street filled with wine drinkers that looked too good to pass. All’Alba is a really cool, local feeling spot close to the Rialto and perfect for an after dinner glass of wine.Wine is like water in Italy, so we aimed to stay hydrated with one more glass at Osteria Del Cason just next to our hotel. We had a table, and really, the whole canal to ourselves for one last cheers before bed.
With countless sights to see on Saturday, we opted first to check out the Rialto Market which has, handsdown, the most impressive and exotic display of seafood, fruits and vegetables. Ready to tackle the tourists, we then headed to the Piazza San Marco. Had we not been so “hydrated,” I would have opted to see it bright and early with a latte at Caffè Florian, but you live and learn. Known as “The Drawing Room of Europe”, taking it all in over a bellini and crisps, you truly do feel as if you were in a painting. The Museo di Palazzo Ducale was equally as opulent. Unfortunately, the Secret Itineraries tour was sold out, but with such fabulous reviews, it’s on the list for next time. The Bridge of Sighs offered beautiful views, and we happily checked it all off the list before heading back to the quieter canals in Dorsoduro. My second favorite experience of the weekend was next, at Cantina Do Mori. We walked in, starving, and tried nearly every piece of delicious looking cichhetti. I’m pretty sure that’s not really how you’re supposed to do it… We scored a pair of bar stools and relaxed while sampling wines and planning our next few hours. Fortunately the hubs can only do as the Europeans do (linger over wine…. linger of coffee… linger over wine…) for so long, or we would have stayed late enough to have dinner. I was so content in this cute little cantina.
With the afternoon ahead, we decided to check out the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, because leaving Venice without seeing some art seemed sacrilegious. Peggy was an interesting character (check out her “private life” facts…), her house and collection were exquisite and a really pleasant place to wander around. Late afternoon is so beautiful in Venice. The sun setting makes the buildings glow and creates magnificent reflections in the canals. It’s also a little quieter, and the perfect time to just linger… I even got the hubs to try it! We had some great examples across the canal. Walking all the way to Cannaregio for our dinner reservation at Algiubagio seemed daunting, so we opted for the restaurant a few doors down where we had had drinks the night before, Osteria Del Cason. I was really looking forward to Algiubagio, and I’ll definitely make a point to go there next time, but we did have the best sea bass EVER, so I can’t say that I was disappointed with our change in plans. We fought the temptation to stay out until all hours of the night again and responsibly walked a few steps back to our hotel in order to take full advantage of the next day’s trip to Murano and Burano.
We planned to roll the dice and find a spot for dinner on our last night after returning from our trip, and did we get lucky! Meandering through Dorsoduro, we happened upon Osteria Enoteca San Barnaba. Thank goodness I didn’t do my typical research, because the reviews are really sub-par. However, the atmosphere was perfect- cozy and romantic, the service was so friendly, and the food… I had tagliolini with pistachio pesto and some fish that was fresher than just off the boat, but I was very distracted by the deliciousness of the hubs’ tagliolini with lobster sauce. Now, one would expect a creamy sauce with a little lobster over pasta, right? Not in Venice. The dish was served with an entire lobster tail, perfectly cleaned, and the best sauce (without a trace of cream) that either of us had ever had. We were both tempted to lick the plate clean, but remained classy and used bread to soak up every last drop instead.
Not quite ready to be finished with Venice, we wandered around and found ourselves in Campo Santa Margherita, a piazza filled with lingering locals. By this time, we’d mastered the art, grabbed a bench, and relished in our last few hours.
We woke up to rain on Monday, which fortunately let up enough for us to take one more stroll through the streets.
The trip was complete after we found a teeny tiny art shop with two paintings of Venice that we both loved. We squeezed our way out of the shop, and the one last package into our bags (I couldn’t pass up leather gloves and a wallet). Our drizzly ride to the airport put no damper on our spirits, it was an unforgettable trip. The world-renowned sights certainly live up to their reputation, but leaving some time to feel adrift in Venice will undoubtedly make you feel as if you were floating through La Serenissima.