We arrived in Venice late, on a foggy evening in December doubting that we would see much with the fog set in. Finding our way from the vaporetto stop at St Mark’s Square, with the assistance of Google maps, was an eerie experience. Our footsteps resounded off the walls. My imagination was in overdrive! I kept looking over my shoulder waiting for something out of a Dan Browne novel to happen, naturally nothing did!
VENICE DAY 1
We emerged from the Hotel Liassidi Palace, a beautifully restored 15th century gothic palace to find that we were right on the San Lorenzo Canal.
Making our way to St. Mark’s Square I was fascinated by the number of shops selling masks and costumes for the carnival. Around the next corner we came across a performer, in costume, posing obligingly for photographs.
After gazing at the splendour of St. Mark’s Basilica, the most famous church in Venice, we had to warm up.It was a good excuse to go and try the hot chocolate at Caffè Florian, on the square, an institution in Venice since 1720. It is a baroque masterpiece and reputed to be the oldest coffee shop in the world. The interior is gilt, mirrored and ornate. It is well worth a visit just to enjoy the beautiful architecture. The waiter arrived with a silver tray of a bygone era, with my hot chocolate in a silver jug. It was rich, and decadent, just what we needed to face to cold.
Next stop was the Doges Palace also known as the Ducal Palace. The palace served as the Doge’s (ruler of Venice) residence, the palace of justice and the seat of government. The riches of the city are evident in the ornate rooms throughout the palace.
The Bridge of Sighs connects the Doges Palace and the old prison so that convicts could go straight from the courts to the prison cells, or in some cases their execution. The prison housed Casanova, the legendary seducer.
After a busy day I was looking forward to dinner. We splurged the first night and went to the wonderful Michelin starred restaurant Il Ridotto. We both had the Menu di Terra e di Mare, which was 5 courses, all fresh and seasonal ingredients and a flavour bomb in every bite.
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VENICE DAY 2
This morning started with watery sunshine, and a perfect day for walking. The first stop was the Torre dell’Orologio . The southern clock faces towards St. Mark’s Square and is relatively simple. The northern clock face is beautiful. The outer marble ring is inscribed with Roman numerals. The inner circle is made up of a royal blue mosaic with scattered golden stars. Although we did not visit, it is possible to see the workings of the clock and visit a museum.
A brisk walk took us to the Rialto Bridge, one of the most famous bridges that cross the Grand Canal. The bridge was built 1588 and 1591. It originally housed the food market and that was our mission today. To track down great food, the market and cicchetti the small snacks, much like tapas, that are so popular in Venice.
After browsing the touristy shops on the bridge for a while, we headed to the market just beyond the foot of the bridge. I love wandering around and looking at the produce. It is always a good indication of what you should be ordering in restaurants to get the freshest seasonal ingredients in your meal.
By now we had worked up an appetite so we headed to All’Arco one of Venice’s favourite spots for Cicchetti. The display of treats is daunting, each one is more delicious than the next, and beautifully presented. We had a quick snack, and then went to find the best coffee in town.
According to sources this was to be had at the Caffè Del Doge. They are an artisanal coffee roasting company. As we opened the door our senses were assaulted with a multitude of aromas. We stood at the bar ,which is always cheaper than sitting at a table, and enjoyed 2 different coffees one after the other and soaked in the atmosphere.
Next on the list of “Must Do’s” was a gondola ride. There were fewer gondolas around it being winter so the prices were far more reasonable than in the summer. As we cruised the backwaters, the stillness was evident. The voices and songs of the gondoliers bounced off the walls of the narrow canals surrounding us in song. It was a very special moment.
VENICE DAY 3
Today the plan was to go to Murano, a collection of islands in the Venice lagoon all linked together by bridges. The morning was gloomy and we had our doubts that the trip would be worthwhile. The journey across on the vaporetto was not a pleasant one. We had already decided that this was going to be a waste of time and once we arrived we would have a quick drink, and catch the next ferry back. We disembarked in thick fog and followed the crowd.
About ten minutes later the fog began to lift and suddenly we were faced with a beautiful town with palazzos, shops and restaurants lining the canals.
Murano is known for its beautiful glass. You can see examples of this everywhere you look. One such work is titled “Comet Glass Star” which was created by Simone Cenedese in a workshop on the island. It is made up of 500 elements and 6 colours. I loved it!
After a laid back lunch it was time to head back to Venice in time to watch the sunset on the lagoon. This was the only evening we were lucky enough to see the sunset, and it didn’t fail to wow us!
We ended the day with cocktails at the iconic Harry‘s Bar, founded in 1931. It’s a fabulous place for just relaxing, and watching what goes on around you. Naturally we had to have Bellinis, made with white peach puree and prosecco. Did it live up to expectation? Yes, I had a second and probably could have managed a third!
Although this was not my first visit to Venice I fell in love with it all over again. It has a way of getting under your skin and seems to draw you back time and time again. Wherever you look it has a picture postcard beauty that you can’t help but be impressed by. Add Venice to your bucket list – you won’t regret it.
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