Last year I said 4 days was not long enough in Venice. However, traveling with a tour group four nights is pretty good. My itinerary along with my best friend Cristina (my exceptional tour guide ) introduces this city beautifully. It just means you have to come back and it would take weeks to get around the galleries, museums, palaces and restaurants.
Talking of restaurants – this year I was recommended a beauty : Antica Pizzo in San Polo. You know its good when it is full of locals. It was a lovely walk on a balmy evening although we caught the Vaporetto one way past a glorious colourfully lit palazzo on the grand canal filled with a party in full swing .
Venice has a no stop button.. It’s tolerant locals have tourists 24/7 . I think it is evident in the mass movement of Venetians living in Venice to the mainland . Many people – (like Cristina) commute each day. My hotel is Locanda San Barnaba in the Dosodura. This area is full of locals and students. The campo has children playing in the evening – kicking a football or riding scooters. The famous aperitif’s like – aperol spritz , campari and prosecco only cost 3.50 E and the bars are full in the early evenings with people socialising and enjoying the warm weather. The local bar has become our bar of choice too and my group can be found very happy here at the end of the day.
I love traveling out of Venice into the Veneto where once upon a time many of the wealthy living in Palazzos in Venice had large villa’s the countryside. They would live here during the summer away from the canals and mosquitoes. The countryside still has thousands of these palatial villa’s sitting in beautiful grounds.
It is important to investigate the home of prosecco and actually see the beautiful rolling hills that are covered in the DOCG vines and of course visit a winery and taste the wine. This year we went to Villa Sandi – a huge producer and the one we can buy in Dunedin.
Lunch on this day is always in Asolo – a stunning village tucked in the hills. Albergo Sole is prepared and our long table set for my group on the terrace . Lunch never fails to have the ‘wow’ factor and 2 hours passes too fast.
Today is the first of many beautiful lunches .The Italians do this so well – always with beautiful white linen, gorgeous glasses and dinner ware and impeccable service.
Venice sits in a huge Lagoon around 550 square kilometres and has about 35 inhabited islands. Our second day is with a private water taxi on the Lagoon – Popping into the major Islands of Murano and Burano. Being a Sunday many of the glass blowers were not operating. However, lots of my girls enjoyed my favourite jewellery shop and now have rather nice piece of contemporary Venetian glass. Burano on the other hand – famous for lace making is a photographers heaven – colourful houses sit side by side along the narrow canals and became a bright beacon for the fishermen coming home in the fog. But lunch… on the island of Torcello is always a highlight. Osteria al Diavolo had our beautifully set table under the outside awnings in the shade and served stunning handmade, handcut pasta, turbot fresh from the lagoon and light as air strawberry mousse.
Before departing Torcello for Venice (past the vegetable island ) we had to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta the oldest church in the Lagoon – over 2000 years old and is always a beautiful visit. The most important artistic element of the cathedral is the mosaics, the earliest remaining mosaics in the neighbourhood of Venice and they are stunning.
So four days went very quickly – Venice needs several visits – It is easy to get away from the hideous crowds in San Marks Square and the Rialto bridge and there is so much to see and do. My list is huge and I never have time to see enough.
Next year is the Venice Biennial – 4 years ago I had a private group in Venice for a week then onto Milan for 3 days .They had the the best time . We had a Palazzo on the grand canal and a butler called Allesandro – he invited me out on his little boat for an hour and I felt just like a local – well as long as you don’t open your mouth.