Hi there! I’ve finally adjusted to the right time zone, and I’ve started sorting through the hundreds of photos from our trip. I can’t wait to share them with you, along with tips and stories for each of the places we visited.
Let’s backtrack a little and start with the minor hiccups at the start of our trip. I arrived at the airport after work to discover that the airline gave my seat away, which I had selected and checked in the night before. I didn’t even know they could do that! After explaining to the agent why I couldn’t possibly fly out the next evening at the same time (maybe he couldn’t take my long-windedness any longer? :-p), he put me on a flight to Frankfurt, connecting to Milan, where I would take a train to Venice. Not a problem. I’d just arrive a couple of hours later than originally planned.
When I finally arrived at the hotel in Venice where James and I were supposed to meet (he was flying in from Budapest), he was still not there! Did he know that I didn’t make it on the original flight? Was his flight delayed? Maybe he got lost? As it turned out, some locals directed him to another part of the town with the same street name. I must have been waiting anxiously for what felt like a really long time, so I decided to look for him and we ran into each other in an alley. What are the chances!?? And what a relief!
We spent the rest of the evening walking around the Cannaregio district, the Rialto Bridge, and along the Grand Canal.
Near the Rialto Market, we found a tiny cicchetti wine bar called Osteria Alla Ciurma which I had read about. They have an extensive wine list and was packed with locals (always a good sign). We snagged a table in the corner and each had a few glasses (I lost count…) of Pinot Grigio and Prosecco, and a platter of Proscuitto di Parma and Parmegiano Reggiano. That certainly whet our appetite for dinner! It was getting late and most places were no longer taking orders, so we ended up going to a place suggested by our hotel. We shared a pasta dish with a red wine braised octopus sauce, and a secondi platter with grilled meats, vegetables, and polenta.
It was the only time on our trip that we ordered a secondi because every time we finished our primi, we were too full for anything else. I wonder how others do it. Do you order your own pasta and share the main course? Or do you have either the pasta or the main course, but not both?
The next morning, we headed to the island of Murano. Our hotel is very close to Fondamenta Nuove, one of the vaporetto stops, where we took the boat across and was there in under half an hour. It was interesting to peek into the shops and oogle at the huge chandeliers, delicate glass beads, and home decoration pieces that are too fragile to be shipped home. And there were glass sculptures everywhere.
Most of the factories weren’t open yet, so we stopped for a cappucino break. James had a cornetto and I chose the Nutella crepe. The cornettos look like croissants (too rich for my stomach for breakfast), but they are actually less buttery and hollow inside, usually filled with apricot marmalade. I tried one with a custard filling and was sold! We had a cornetto every morning since.
After strolling around the picturesque little island, it was time to head back to Venice. We decided to explore the southern part of the island, where I’m pretty certain we got lost at least ten times. The Dorsoduro is a neighborhood with many artisan shops and galleries tucked in the alleys, and just so much to see it’s hard to not be distracted. Then we found what I was looking for: Loris Marazzi‘s wood sculpture shop! Everything in the shop is carved from wood and the pieces of clothing look so lightweight. If you think about it, it’s all solid wood inside. Wood trench coat, anyone?
Came lunchtime we picked up a tramezzini for James and a foccacia for me, and a bottle of chilled wine (twist top wine bottles are such a lifesaver), rested our feet and found ourselves a nice spot in Piazza San Marco for people watching.
Instead of going up the bell tower where there was a long line, we took the vaporetto from outside of the Doge’s Palace across the water to the island of Guidecca. What a gem! It is quiet, peaceful, and the best part is that you get an unobstructed view of Venice, with an aperol spritz and wine if you choose.
We had dinner at Osteria Antica Adelaide, where we enjoyed squid ink and clam pasta. A delicious, satisfying meal!
Venice was such a special place that took our breath away. Yes, there were a lot of tourists in the main squares and around the famous sites, like Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. But if you venture away from those places, you’ll discover the quiet cobblestone alleys, back canals, and footbridges where locals are just going about their everyday lives. This is where you’ll feel the true magic of Venice!
Up next, the road trip that took us to a cheese factory, a balsamic vinegar house, and a beautiful castle!