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Report 1114: Bergamo, Venice, Lerici, Piemonte, Friends & World Cup Mania

By girasoli from Hawaii, Summer 2006

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Page 5 of 23: Bella Bella Venezia - My First Two Days in this Beautiful City

photo by girasoli

canal in Venice

I arrived in Venice Monday afternoon without any train complications. I love the first view of Venice when walking out of the train station. After taking a quick picture, I headed for the vaporetto ticket booth. I decided on getting the basic three-day pass. There are many choices when purchasing vaporetto passes or tickets. For just a pass (no toilets, churches, museums included), the cost is €25 for a three-day pass or €12 for a one-day pass. The cost without a pass is €5 per ride.

As usual, the vaporetto was packed with people. I managed to squeeze on with my luggage without any problems. I got off at the San Stae stop (third stop). My hotel, Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo, was located in the perfect location. It was easy to find and very close to the vaporetto stop but also away from the crowds of tourists. The two owners were very nice and helpful. My single room was quite spacious and the entire hotel was no smoking - a great find!

After unpacking, with four maps in hand, the two I packed and two more the hotel gave me (one of the area near the hotel and one of Venice), I set out to explore Venice. I walked around the Santa Croce area where I was staying and also the San Paolo area. One of the things I wanted to do besides getting oriented to the area near my hotel was to find La Zucca, a restaurant I had read about with wonderful reviews. The man at the hotel tried to call to make a reservation for me earlier when I arrived but there was no answer. I wanted to stop by to try to make a reservation for later that evening. I got lost a few times trying to find this restaurant, but eventually found it after wandering up and down many streets nearby. This time though, I didn’t mind getting lost as I had a better feel of the area and reminded myself that I was now equipped with four maps. It turned out that La Zucca was located about three minutes away from my hotel! It was near a very lovely campo - San Giacomo dell' Orio. This campo was full of little children playing and lots of people sitting or standing around talking.

After spending time taking pictures and exploring the area, I headed back to my hotel to unpack. After unpacking, I went back to the newly discovered campo to spend a little bit of time enjoying the feeling of this area before it was time for dinner. I then headed over to La Zucca. The people there were very friendly. I was seated inside at a little table near a window. My dinner was heavenly. I ordered a delicious pasta with fresh tomato sauce and fresh ricotta cheese and a salad with fresh vegetables, avocado, and cooked chicken. The food was outstanding. A great first day in Venice!

Tuesday morning, after eating a delicious breakfast at my hotel, I decided to spend most of the day exploring some of the areas that I had not spent much time in during my past visits to Venice. First, I took the vaporetto over to the Cannaregio area where I spent most of the morning, stopping in some of the shops, visiting the Ghetto area, and lastly searching for Vini da Gigio, a restaurant I had read about with great reviews. I finally found it, but unfortunately, it was closed.

With a list of recommended restaurants in hand, I took the vaporetto back to the stop by my hotel and then went on another search, this time for Osteria al Garanghélo. I found this restaurant after only a couple of wrong turns. When I arrived, there was a table available outside. I was very lucky to find a table available without having a reservation, as this was a very small place with only three tables outside. Annalisa, one of the owners of the osteria, waited on me. I told her that I was looking forward to having lunch there as I had read good things about her osteria. She wanted to know where I had read the recommendations. I told her Slow Travel. She was quite flattered and asked me for the website.

My lunch was very delicious. I had a spaghetti with clams dish and also a zucchini, shrimp, and cheese dish, which Annalisa recommended. Renato, the other owner, came out to serve me my second dish. After my meal, I complimented both of them on the delicious lunch. They were both very happy that I had enjoyed my meal.

As I was about to leave, Annalisa told me that she was going to go look up the slow travel recommendation now, as it was the slow time of the day. I asked her if she wanted me to help her find it. She took me to an area in the back where her computer was located. She found the website and then I helped her find the restaurant recommendations. She laughed and smiled as she read the detailed recommendation. She understood most everything. I helped translate the few words she did not understand. She was so happy to see such a nice review. She gave me her card and I told her that I would write a review and use her name in the review. She was such a lovely person. By the end when I was leaving the osteria, it was like we were old friends. Everyone made sure to say goodbye to me as I left. A delicious lunch, wonderful people, and a fun experience!

After lunch, I took the vaporetto to the San Marco area - TONS and TONS of tourists AND pigeons everywhere!! I was prepared though remembering past visits. Despite the crowds, I wanted to go back to Piazza San Marco to see the clock tower that finally had been restored. Although Piazza San Marco is an amazing piazza, I do not enjoy being in big crowds and did not last very long in the piazza. It was not just the crowds that drove me away but also all those birds! I cannot understand the fascination of letting pigeons land all over you.

So, I took a few pictures and then headed over to the Dorsoduro area for a gelato. This would be the first time visiting this area. Even with my four maps, I still got very lost. I must have covered most of the area before finally finding the beautiful Campo Santa Margherita where the gelateria was located. I was amazed when I arrived. Campo Santa Margherita was a delightful campo much like the campo near my hotel but with even more of a "lived in" feeling.

I sat on a bench while eating my gelato watching some children play. Then, I headed back to the vaporetto stop to head back to my hotel. My feet were very sore. I was dead tired by the time I arrived back at my hotel.

After a shower and a short rest, I headed back out once more for dinner. I went to another restaurant nearby called il Refolo where I had another good dinner. My table faced a little canal with a lovely view. A great way to end another wonderful day in Venice.

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