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Trip to Venice, Italy (May 5-9)

May 5th:

Wow, British Airways owned Boeing 777 planes are amazingly quiet; you can actually have a normal conversation and I did not need my canalphones to block out the noise of the jet engines. The seats seemed a little wider too; perhaps 19″ wide instead of 17″ – and that two inches makes a world of difference for my shoulders. Watched Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera, who is hot in the show… wow; she really can sing.

Heathrow is annoying in that nearly every flight needs to stop well away from the terminals and they bus you to the terminals where you have to pass through security again for all connecting flights. On the plus side, the food places take virtually any currency you have and you can do vodka tastings at the duty free stores in the airport even though it is 7am local time.

Our second flight was a little more cramped (A319) but we had spectacular views of the alps in bright sunlight coming into Venice airport. No problems with customs nor our luggage. We met Erci’s Dad and his wife and caught the Alilaguna to Sant Angelo stop on the Grand Canal in Venice. A short walk from Sant Angelo and we arrived at Locanda Art Deco. The hotel is a beautiful little hotel with clean, comfortable rooms, free wi-fi, clean bathrooms, and it is located in San Marco at the North end of Campo San Stefano; one of the larger and more casual open spaces in Venice. The room comes equipped with a shuttle PC running Ubunto and Gnome that is wired to the internet!

Campo San Samuele near our hotel in Venice:
Campo San Samuele near our hotel

We are hearing the bells of San Stefano church regularly, and have taken to meeting each other at Le Cafe or Gelateria Paolin in the square because it is so convenient to the hotel.

The staff at the hotel have been very helpful in many languages and they recommended we try Rosa Rossa for dinner; it was excellent: stunning lighting, beautiful decor, very good food and wine. Perhaps the music was a bit lame.

May 6th:

The Locanda Art Deco has a very small continental breakfast, and with Erci being gluten-free, we have taken to augmenting the breakfast in the hotel with yogurt, cheese, or sausage from the grocer next door.

We walked to Piazzo San Marco and toured the Basilica at length. We stopped at Trattoria da Nico for lunch, and then bought Murano glasses and a gecko at Atmosfera Veneziana, The Bead Shop di Caponsacco De Lorenzi Theresa, and purse hangers and glass snake at another shop (across from Rosa Rossa).

Piazzo San Marco from the Basilica; preparations already underway for a papal visit:
Piazzo San Marco from the Basilica; preparations already underway for a papal visit

We walked to San Salvadore church to see it’s interior and then to the Rialto bridge where Sutragirl bought a new purse and we exchanged a little gossip.

Our specially arranged meal was at Fiaschetteria Toscana and it was splendid. I should have copied Rob’s order as his meal was fantastic, where mine was merely very good.

After walking back towards the hotel, we stopped at Osteria Al Bacaro for a late night drink.

We heard from the hotel staff that the Pope will be visiting Venice this weekend and that will force some plans to change (certain sites and vaporetto stops will be closed).

May 7th:

We walked across Accademia bridge into Dorsoduro searching for Ca’Macana Venezia looking for masks, we ended up ordering from Alesia di Bognolo Silvia at L’Arte di Alesia on Campo San Barnaba instead, but they had beautiful masks at Ca’Macana and workshops too. The lady at the smaller shop was delightful and had the plague doctor mask Sutragirl was looking for, and she was happy to arrange shipping, which many shop keepers are not as willing to do.

Dorsoduro is far more comfortable and lived in than San Marco which is overloaded with tourist shops and empty buildings. The natural beauty of the quiet streets and canals of Dorsoduro is breathtaking; and I want to spend weeks sipping coffee in the various squares and taverns in the area.

Campo San Barnaba in Dorsoduro, Venice:
Campo San Barnaba in Dorsoduro, Venice

We then walked back through Dorsoduro to the church of S. Maria della Salute, and discovered it closed for security to prepare for the Papal visit and music was blaring really loud preventing normal conversation; so we wandered back to Dei Rossi, a small bar at Campo San Vio for lunch of salad, fried fish and beer. They had beautiful, but practical glasses of Murano glass that were translucent blue. We caught a handsome gondolier at the Accademia bridge and paid for a pleasant tour in a gondola through parts of the Grand Canal, San Marco and back.

Once off the gondola, I finally got to explore the SouthWestern end of San Marco district around our hotel and through Campo San Samuele and back to the hotel for a nap. I have always enjoyed walking around whatever lodging we find to get a feel for the small details of a neighborhood.

Grand Canal from a gondola, Venice:
Grand Canal from a gondola, Venice

Dinner at Vecio Fritolin on Calle dell Regina in San Polo near Campo San Cassiano was amazing! Our favorite meal so far in Venice, and that is huge praise as we have been very fortunate so far. Our waiter, Mauro, was amazing and the wines and the grappa were delicious. The staff at Locanda Art Deco is to be praised for such excellent recommendations.

View from the Rialto:
View from the Rialto in Venice

View from the Rialto in Venice

Romantic walk back over the Rialto where we all decided this trip is amazing. The absence of car noise, traffic, and gas fumes is a delight. The small noises of Venetians going through their routines and laughing and making fun of each other is music to the ear.

May 8th:

The staff at our hotel arranged “free” water taxi to B.F. Signoretti Murano glass factory where we toured and bought some Murano glasses and a serving dish at prices that paid for the convenience of water taxi service to and from Murano island. We walked from Fondamenta Nove through Cannaregio, Rialto and to our hotel, stopping so that Sutragirl could buy some sleek Italian shoes. Cannaregio, like Dorsoduro, is also more lived in and comfortable than San Marco. I must come back and explore and enjoy this district more thoroughly. We walked through one square that was beautiful and relaxing, and I wished to stay longer; I think that was Campo Dietro la Chiesa; and it had trees, and a cafe, and children playing.

Canals in Cannaregio:
Cannaregio canals in Venice

Cannaregio canals in Venice

We grabbed a quick lunch at Gelateria Paolin at Campo San Stefano, then tested out the excellent Vaporetto service to Ferrovia (the train station) to get our EuRail passes stamped and verify the ease of use of the Vaporetti. Then we took the Vaporetto back to Rialto to wander and shop a little more.

Grand Canal of Venice:
Grand Canal in Venice

Grand Canal in Venice

Dinner at Met in Castello was new cuisine and we chose the tasting menu, which really was too much food. The dishes were very experimental, and quite surprising; but some of them I did not like very much and others were spectacular. The carbonara cuttlefish “fettucini” (no pasta involved) was spectacular and worth the price of the meal by itself. The scallops were delicious, and the venison was a delight. Service was so formal I was a little uncomfortable. The walk to and from Met was right along the water as far as Piazza San Marco and it was briskly windy and chilling. The Bridge of Sighs was so wrapped in advertising and renovation sheeting that it looked quite silly suspended in the clouds of the sheet poster material. There were obscenely massive cruise ships in the water off San Marco, setting out to sea.

As we packed up for travel to Sorrento, we were serenaded by the season’s first mosquitoes and suffered a few bites before Erci loaded the pest deterrent that was in the hotel room since our arrival… Not sure if it worked, or we were too tired to care, but I noticed no more mosquitoes after the thing had been running for about 10 minutes.

May 9th:

Breakfast at the hotel was crowded with Americans on a tour of religious sites in Italy and we grabbed a bit of protein from the grocer next door and waited until there were tables available to eat in the hotel. We checked out, hauled luggage to San Samuele (Vaporetto stop) and took the Vaporetto to Ferrovia again, this time to board EuroStar 9409 to Roma Termini and then on to Naples. Note to those with wheeled luggage, from the river, the North (right) side of the train station has a ramp that looks like it is going to the street but simply goes into the station without steps.

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