Venice, Italy

30th Apr 2015
Photo of Venice, Italy by matea ilieva

Ah! The gondolas, the romantism, the tiny streets, the canals…

Well this post is all BUT that. I actually offered this trip to my mother.

There is a funny story behind this.

Several years ago, my mum and I were in Rome and she started running in the streets because the Piazza San Marco was near. You know the famous one with the pigeons? Well there was A pigeon. Sitting on top of the head of a statue. And a very disapointed mother. So I decided to offer her a weekend in Venice to actually see this place.

Photo of Piazza San Marco, Venise, Italie by matea ilieva

We arrived by the Marco Polo Airport, where we took our first vaporetto to the center (they all go to the center. By the way, you have several tourist travel cards you can choose, but we honestly took the vaporettos 3 times and did the rest by foot.)

So we have accosted at the Rialto Bridge. Before even heading to our hotel, we decided to have our first italian treat. On the left of the bridge there is a small bar, and you can see the Grand Canal. We ordered the first of many Proseccos (the italian sparkling wine). Speaking of drinks, you should definetly try a Bellini. It has been invented in here sometime between 1934 and 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. It’s made of Prosecco and peach nectar. A delight! You can try the best one on the island of Giudecca, at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani! The bartender is still making them by following the original recipe and the view is breathtaking.

Our hotel was the Palazzo Lion Morosoni. The quiet tiny square in front of the hotel offers an amazing view of the canal, and the bar there serves huge prosecco glasses for an unbeatable price.

The Rialto bridge will be one of my favorite places. Almost every day, between 7 and 8.30AM I sat down next to the big square, by the canal and waited for the boats to arrive. Filled with products for the stores and restaurants, the kind man always gave me a box of milk, juice, water or fruits while unloading their goodies and post. I loved this ballet of man, products and screaming customers waiting for their merchendise.

During the day, we were getting lost in the numerous sottoporteghi (passages) and calli (streets). For your information, street numbers won’t be of any help unless you are near your destination. But don’t worry. If you get lost, you will ALWAYS (eventually) arrive at the Canal. This is if you don’t, ask a venician. They are usually very helpful, unless they say “sempre dritto” (straight ahead) which can be quite disturbing since there are curves and twists every meter.

Anyway, the best part is getting lost. You always end up in a charming spot (if you avoid the very touristic places). We ended up at the Campo Santa Margherita one afternoon, conviniently at the time for a drink. Very nice and young spot.

Another time we got lost, was during lunch time in the Cannaregio sistere. It’s the jewish neighbourhood. (Again. Getting lost offers unsuspected rewards). The Ristorante Dalla Marisa doesn’t have a menu. The dishes change daily, depending on what fresh ingredients they have. I remember the roasted artichokes, but you will probably try something else (and as equally amazing).

We actually had SOME plans. Visiting Burano and Murano where in there. I strongly advise you to go to Burano. Famous for it’s colorful houses and lacework, what I loved the most where the old man sitting on benches reading journals, and old woman talking with a glass of wine in the shade of a tree. Murano is worth the travel only to see a glass blowing factory. You will learn that Murano glass is famous because they were the only people in Europe who knew how to make glass mirrors, and also because of their unique techniques.

Photo of Burano, Venise, Italie by matea ilieva
Photo of Burano, Venise, Italie by matea ilieva
Photo of Burano, Venise, Italie by matea ilieva

Other than that it’s my favorite stop was when we bought two liters of prosecco in a plastic bottle from a tiny wine cellar. The owner was serbian and he gave us the adress (in almost perfect bulgaian) to a local restaurant on the island. When we finally arrived there, it was full with a group of people of an avarage age of 70 (that we dropped as soon as we sat down). The waiter asked us if we would like the regular tourist white paper tablecloth or if we are there to actually enjoy food. We didn’t have time to order (which we finally didn’t do) as he started bringing us dishes. Traditional non pretensious food was flying before our eyes. As the group greeted us while leaving, we had the leftover essi (traditional cookies from Burano) from their table with a coffee. Promising we would return, we left full and happy.

Photo of Murano, Venise, Italie by matea ilieva

We didn’t forget the liters of prosecco and the bresaola and bread. Later that day we sat on a bench in the Campo San Bernardo and looked at the passer-bys while having a drink in plastic cup. You see the real life of venicians. Don’t hurry. Just sit down and look around. In a city filled with people trying to tick all the boxes of their to-see list, taking the time to do nothing is priceless.

Photo of Campo San Bernardo, Venise, Italie by matea ilieva

But don’t you worry. You too will one morning have the courage to face the hordes of tourists and try visiting the unavoidable places on the Piazza San Marco – the Pallazo Ducale or the Basilica San Marco. If you get discouraged by the hours of waiting, you can always go have a bite and a drink at Caffè Florian. In this iconic 1700’s cafe, we had a chocolate desert and a glass of marsala (a sweet vino liquoroso). Sit outside and watch other people feeding the pigeons and screaming as they land on their heads, or sit inside and enjoy the decor.

Photo of Caffè Florian, Place Saint-Marc, Venise, Italie by matea ilieva

I still have some things I would love to do in Venice! Seing a opera in the Teatro la Fenice, or following the steps of Casanova on the Ponte dei Sospiri… Well I will have to come back!

If you want to get lost in a magical city, go in the winter or as I did in late April. If you are lucky, the weather will be mild and the venitians adorable! Overall a great city to visit without a map.