Venezia, enchanting Venezia deserves its own post.
Greg and I dropped from the Italian Alps to Venezia, from ethereal granite peaks floating through clouds to Venezia’s watery byways, bridges, and piazzas … talk about stunned senses.
We dropped the sporty Fiat at the Venice airport and packed onto a water taxi for a noisy and bumpy ride to our stop: the Rialto Bridge, central Venice. (Here is one of my favorite travel tips … Earplugs. Lifesavers during flights or sitting over diesel engines in a vaparetto crashing through a rainstorm.
Venice, ahhhh …
Venice … it must be savored … starting with our room, hardly wider than Sweetie’s outstretched arms, but perfectly located in the center of the San Marcos district overlooking cobble stoned alleys and busy shops. From our perfect room we wandered up narrow tourist packed lanes, side stepping shop delivery boys with their two-wheeled carts and window shopping before spilling out into hidden piazzas.
The dome of St. Mark’s Basilica in the evening light was inspiring … and hundreds of tourists could not dampen my enthusiasm … however, I found myself irritated by the multitude of immigrants interrupting my thoughts and invading my personal space hawking selfie-sticks, roses, or florescent helicopter toys.
In St Marks Square we stood entranced between competing cafe orchestras and once sat at a table which we quickly abandoned when we decided we didn’t want to pay 14 euros for a cappuccino or soda, well, to be accurate 14 euros was for the chair space. We moved to some stairs at the end of the Square, people watching as the tourists ebbed and flowed like the tidal lagoon. Then we tuned into Rick Steves’ St Mark’s Square podcast and wandered through history.
Leaving the square we moved on into more mazes of shops and alleys totally gaping at handcrafted Venetian Carnivale’ masks, (paper mache’, exquisite, and sometimes scary — I even saw one of those creepy masks that covered the clock-faced men in a Dr Who episode), Murano glass creations, Italian leather shops and of course indulging our passion for GELATO. (In our personal gelato competition Emilia in Parma was still in first place.)
Our hotel concierge suggested a small restaurant for our first meal in Venice. After many wrong turns and backtracks we finally stumbled upon the rear entrance of Al Gazzettino’s. The single outside light illuminated the menu board and while we waited for a free table we were offered small glasses of wine (“just a sweet taste while you wait”), Greg loved them. Then later, out came small plates of risotto (“while you wait”).
And what a meal worth waiting for … fresh delicate scallops, then homemade pasta, then a very beautiful crusted sea bass with crispy potatoes … the owner/waiter Ridha was charming and welcoming. We had the pleasure to share table space with two university professors from Denmark who spoke perfect Italian and English and were delightful dinner companions (didn’t that sound ‘continental’?).
… afterward we explored more crooked streets, crossed dark waters … and ate more GELATO!
Vivaldi and Venice are now intertwined in my heart. After another (cliche warning) “mouth watering” meal from our favorite restaurant we strolled through the Venetian moonlight to enjoy Vivaldi’s Four Seasons played by a supremely talented chamber orchestra.
We exited the hall to walk past St Mark’s only to be stopped by high tide and a flooded square; an experience that happens only with the highest tides in September … good timing!
We did not want to leave this city of water and stone … next time is already in our conversation!