Thursday, February 21, 2008

Venice - The Annual Pilgrimage

We make a “business & pleasure” trip to Venice once a year. The truth is despite the work part it is always a pleasure to visit Venice. It is the most unique and one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. I have a love affair with the architecture. The buildings are grand and decorative and you can just imagine the Venetian nobility frolicking around them in their 16th ball gowns and white wigs.

I have a few helpful (and biased tips) on visiting the city...

Most people who visit Venice are inclined to stay in the San Marco area. My reaction to that is “nice place to visit, but wouldn’t want to live there”. The second you across over the Rialto or from Cannaregio, you enter into the land of crowds, high priced & low quality restaurants, fake Gucci bags on every corner and the part of Venice that can seem like Disneyland. Of course seeing Piazza San Marco & the Doge’s Palace is at top of my list as well. I just think that staying in one of the other neighborhoods gives you a better sense of real life Venice and often for considerably less.

There are some really lovely B&B/locanda lodgings worth mentioning.

Ca’ Gottardi in Cannaregio
Ca’Angeli in San Polo
Pensione La Calcina in Dorsoduro

Food is Venice is actually VERY good, if you know where to go. Here are a few of my favorites:

* Pizzeria & Trattoria Antico Panifico – San Polo 945/A/B, Tel: 041 277 09 67
* La Patatina – San Polo 2741/A (at the San Polo bridge), Tel: 041 523 7238
* Bancogiro – Campo San Giamometto, Santa Croce 122, Tel: 041 523 2061
* Alla Vedova - Calle del Pistor, Cannaregio 3912, Tel: 041 528 5324

The Venetian drink is the Spritz (possibly my favorite aperitivo) made with white wine, soda and either aperol (my preferred) or campari - and “dressed” with an orange wedge and olive. In Campo San Giacometto, near the Rialto Bridge, you will find several different bacari (bars/watering holes) catering to “happy hour” serving this fine concoction and other libations along with some cicchetti (snacks) including:

* Nazaria
* Al Marca (just a closet on the street serving damn fine drinks!)
* Ancora
* Osteria Bancogiro

Beyond the obvious “must do’s & see’s, you might want to meet up with my friend,
Nan McElroy, who is an American turned Venetian resident running a nice “orientation service” on the city (and believe me, even the well traveled could use this service in a city like Venice) and can suggest/ provide some unique tours & excursions. She has also written a nifty little book called “Italy: Instructions for Use” that best sums up just about everything you need to know for traveling in this country...


me said...

Hi Megan! Great advice about Venice. San Marco is spectacular but Venice's best treasures are off the beaten track. I really wish I shared your love of SPRITZ! I try it again and again at aperitivo but just can't acquire the taste. I'm more of a Martini Bianco gal! :)

Buona Domenica! said...

Hi Megan. I was just at the Venetian in Las Vegas (not really the same) but it got me thinking of the real thing. Great post! I think Venice is one of the those "traps" that you really need to research to find it's hidden treasures. Thanks for the tips of places to stay and ristoranti. Joe