This is my forth visit to Venice in the past 12 years. When we were in Lake Como we were talking with an American and when she heard Venice was our next stop she said, “I have one word for it, overrated.” I wholeheartedly disagree. Perhaps I might understand someone feeling this way if they were visiting from a cruise ship on a day trip and were only visiting the major tourist attractions during high-season. But the wonder that is Venice is away from the crowds in this utterly unique city of the world. There is nowhere like it. Things we take for granted with vehicles, they have found a way to make work with boats. On our first evening while we were taking the boat down the Grand Canal the boat stopped and let an ambulance boat pass by. Venice may not meet the pristine romantic vision some people expect, there is grit to it. It has an edge and that is part of what I like about it. I feel it is a must see for any traveler. I just hope they do it on their own, and explore the areas where the crowds don’t gather.
Upon arrival at our hotel Papadopoli, which is in a very convenient location, we received a complimentary room upgrade which provided canal views and a large balcony. We were off to a good start. After settling in we wandered along Venice’s alleyways and bridges eventually reaching St. Mark’s Square. It was getting late and the hordes of tourists had already left so it was a perfect time to be there. From there we took a vaporetto down the Grand Canal for the views before going for dinner by our hotel.
The next day Leanne and I made our way to Murano, the glass-blowing island, as an intermediate stop to the further away island of Burano. I have avoided Murano in previous visits and this was a mistake. I really enjoyed visiting the island and seeing its many glass works. I particularly liked the outdoor glass sculptures currently on display. After a pleasant visit we continued on to the island of Burano. Burano is very interesting and a world away from the chaos of Venice. The village prides itself on appearance. Every building is brightly colored. There is no graffiti and clearly little to no crime. Families hang their clothes to dry on lines out on the streets, bikes are left unattended and not locked up. It is very idyllic and easy to photograph, although every photo I took seemed to have someone’s laundry in it. We had a fantastic lunch on the island. I had a mix of fresh seafood and wine. In the afternoon we made our way back (about 40 minutes by boat) to Venice. We walked through the bustle of Venice enjoying some gelato on the way. In the evening we met with Doug and Carol and ventured out to find somewhere for dinner. We found a tiny place tucked in an alley with great atmosphere, but as typical with Venice, it had mediocre food, and that is definitely praising it more than it deserves.
On our last full day in Venice we wandered through the maze doing our best to stay off the marked thoroughfares. We stopped by the Pizanni Mansion, another Bond movie scene. It is now a music conservatory and we listened to them practicing inside. After this I tried to get a Bellini from Harry’s Bar (where it originated) only to get kicked out for not having long pants. It was a hot sunny day and we were there midday. I was amused that although I had a button up shirt and nice shorts, I might have offended the backpackers in there in their dirty t-shirts and cargo pants. Sometimes rules need to be dropped. We left to the island of Giudecca for lunch. We found a phenomenal place called “Il figli delle stele”. I cannot recommend it enough. It was the best meal I’ve ever found in Venice and one of my favorite meals of the past month. We had a long meal there enjoying the views across the water of Venice. In the afternoon we went to the island of Lido. We wandered along its modern streets and roads with vehicles out to the beaches on the Adriatic Sea. It was popular spot, although the beach did not have very nice sand. When we finished in Lido we made the long boat trip back to our hotel in Venice. In the evening we found a nice restaurant that fortunately had good food. We capped off our Italy visit with drinks in the hotel lounge before calling it a night.
This morning, April 29, 2012, we are flying from Venice to Amsterdam and connecting for our flight home. I would like to thank to Carol and Doug for being great travelling companions. We accomplished a lot in a short period of time and saw many impressive wonders together. It was a great trip, and one I won’t forget. It was a trip filled with many highlights. While some of these were a repeat for me, I was more than happy to see them again. I particularly loved my first visits to these incredible places: Taormina, Ravello and the Amalfi Coast, San Marino, Portofino, and our perfect stay in Umbria.