Strolling and Cruising through Venice, Italy, 5-2014

By Vaporetto through the Canale Grande.

Franz and I had not been to Venice in a few years and felt we were long overdue for a short trip. So we decided to take a jaunt during the week in late May when the weather was warm and it wasn’t high season yet. We chose well. The weather cooperated and we had clear skies as we made our way via the Arlberg tunnel to Innsbruck and then over the Brenner Pass through the majestic peaks of the Dolomiti mountains of South Tyrol. This scenic route winds through towering mountains with cascading waterfalls flowing down dark rock faces on either side of the road. There was very little snow left except on the very high peaks and the river was running fast with white rapids. The cows were already grazing in the lower elevations and the meadows were vibrant with color. We descended into the Italian lowlands and drove through the numerous vineyards and orchards as we made our way through the rather unremarkable cities that line the highways into Venice. The weather was slightly overcast and we could feel the humidity as we neared the coast.

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This was the first time we had booked a room through AirBnB and we were a bit disappointed. We’ve had a few friends who had recommend the service and spoke very highly of their successful bookings. But for us unfortunately the accommodations were at best adequate. It may be that this being Italy the standard is sometimes at a lower level than what we are used to in the Germanic speaking countries. But suffice it to say we would not recommend the place although the location was convenient. We chose for the first time not to stay on the island but instead stayed nearby in the mainland city of Mestre. But the neighborhood was nice. And we did find around the corner a great bar with an outdoor garden area to enjoy our evening Aperol Spritz garnished with orange slices and served with prosciutto on toasted bread and succulent green olives. A perfect appetizer for a slightly humid climate. In addition we found a great restaurant nearby called La Nuova Favorita. The restaurant served up steaks, seafood, pasta, and pizza. We ate there for two nights and for our first meal we had a great fried seafood platter with prawns, calamari, and sardines served with fried polenta. The second dinner we had was a to die for Pasta con vongole (clams) and they were so generous with the clams and olive oil. I LOVE this dish! We drank a simple Prosecco from the Veneto region that had a slight spritz to it and it was quite refreshing and paired well with seafood.

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Franz has been to “the most serene Republic of Venice” eight times before and this was my third time and we have enjoyed every bit of our earlier stays and have visited many of the well known touristy sights. So now we simply reveled in strolling the narrow walkways and viewing the beautiful nooks and crannies that this lovely city has to offer the curious admirer. It was wonderful to enjoy the sights, sounds, residents, and visitors of this most unique of watery cities. After meandering down the canal lined thoroughfares window shopping and delighting in the carnevale mask shops, Murano glass displays, burnished leather goods, and artistic pasta shops we indulged in the required gelato ice cream.

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After whetting our appetite we stopped for lunch in a small restaurant where we indulged our palate in some fine pasta and tuna salads. After we were satiated we sauntered on to visit the landmark St. Mark’s Square with the crowning glories of the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica. The Doge’s Palace is so breathtaking with its Venetian Gothic styled arches and pillars lining its beautifully decorated facade. And St. Marks Basilica never fails to impress with its intricate gold ground mosaics and its opulent mixture of Italo-Byzantine architecture. After admiring the celebrated World Heritage Site we boarded a boat and took a tour around the small islands that lie in the lagoons of the Adriatic Sea. The ride offered our feet a respite from the hard stone streets of this majestic city.

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We ended our whirlwind tour with a cruise down the magnificent Canale Grande paying homage to the master architects of the Venetian past. We then headed on back to the mainland in anticipation of our evening meal and contemplating what wines we would drink.

 

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