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Report 1931: Venice, Emilia-Romagna and Piemonte - Foodie Heaven!

By Engred from Portland, Oregon, Fall 2010

Trip Description: My husband and I traveled with my in-laws on a 10-day tour of Northern Italy.

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Emilia-Romagna, Piemonte, Venice

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Foodie Trip; Sightseeing; Wine Trip; Independent Travel; 3-4 people; Adult Children w/ Parents

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Page 1 of 10: Italy - We're Back!

photo by ekc

We've arrived!

I apologize in advance for the length of this report! I won't blame you if you can't make it through the whole thing! :-)

After spending a few days in Paris, we were finally on our way to Venice! Our flight was smooth, with a light breakfast and gorgeous views over the Alps, and we landed in Venice around 11:30am. Finally we are back in Italy, a mere 376 days since we last set foot on its lovely soil! After making our way through the airport, Guido (our guide for our Italy trips) greeted us at the exit - so great to see him again! We gathered our luggage and were transported by van to the dock. Suddenly, it struck me that we were going to be transported to Venice via boat.

You would think that after my extensive research and hours of reading about the city that I would have realized this sooner! But alas, it was not until we were unloading the van and our water taxi was pulling up to the dock that it dawned on me that I was going to have to deal with one of my few phobias. Most people don’t realize it, but, in addition to a fairly severe case of motion-sickness, I have a deep and abiding fear of boats! It likely stems from growing up near the ocean and one of the largest rivers in the country, where boats sinking and people falling overboard was practically weekly news. So I thought “Great – I finally get back to Italy and my first day here I am either going to get seasick or the boat is going to sink and we are going to drown!” After some reassurance by J that I would be fine in the open air and Guido assuring me that my heavy suitcase was not going to sink the boat, I hopped on and went through to the back of the boat where it was open and I could stand up in the fresh air. And we were off to Venice! Actually, we were off to Burano but all I knew was that I was on a boat in the open water for only the second or third time in my life. Once my panic subsided, I looked around and the views were just beautiful. Very different than what I had imagined, but so interesting and picturesque!

On our way to lunch, Fabio (our “driver”) took us on a quick cruise around Burano. Such a cute colorful little community! We pulled up to a tiny dock on Mazzorbo (Burano’s “twin” island) and disembarked. After a short walk we arrived at the Venissa estate. The Venissa estate is in a walled vineyard and it has an extensive garden, hotel and restaurant. We sat outside on the terrace and enjoyed an apperativo of prosecco and grissini. The views of the fruit trees and gardens were lovely and a welcome respite after the long morning of travel and white-knuckled (for me) boat ride! We then walked through Venissa’s extensive vegetable garden and crossed a wooden bridge over to Burano. Burano is a very colorful island, as all of the houses are painted different bright colors, so the fishermen could see the island when they were returning from sea.

We walked through Burano to lunch at Gatto Nero – yay! I had read quite a few reviews and was excited that Guido had chosen it for our first lunch in Italy. We sat inside in the back room and had a wonderful lunch, which included what they called razor clams. The clams were long like a razor clam with a similar type of shell, but they were long and thin like an index finger! We started with an amazing broiled scallop in its shell with the roe. We also had a wonderful appetizer of simple boiled langoustines and prawns accompanied by a dollop of whipped bacala (a favorite of J). Some of us also had one of the house specialties – seafood risotto, which was fantastic.

Full from our amazing seafood lunch, we walked up and met Fabio, who was expertly navigating the very narrow canal to find a place where we could get in the boat. As a side note, the boat was beautiful with a gorgeous wooden cabin in the middle of the boat where you could sit inside and look out the windows (unless you have motion-sickness!). It really was lovely and I was actually kind of enjoyed riding around on the boat by the end of the trip!

Leaving Burano, we cruised across the lagoon into Venice and to the Hotel Bauer. What a lovely hotel!! Cruising up the canal and pulling up to the hotel’s black private dock is something I will always remember. We checked in at the (remarkably) small lobby and found our way through the maze of hallways to our rooms.

Our room had classic Venetian decor with amazing green wallpaper and a lovely orchid and gifts from Guido! While M and Big J took some business calls, Guido and J and I took a walk around the “neighborhood” and stopped for a quick beverage at Café Florian in St. Mark’s Square. It was such a treat to be sitting in Venice’s “living room” and watching the world go by – I didn’t care how outrageous the price was for a soda!

The three of us then took a guided tour through the canals of Venice with Sara, our Venice tour guide. It was very informative and interesting to hear the history behind many of the buildings and different areas of the city.

After the cruise, while M was finishing her calls, the three of us had aperitivo on the terrace at the hotel. It was a lovely weather and a wonderful way to start our first evening in Venice with my first Spritz Spritz con Campari became my beverage of choice on this trip!

After finishing our cocktails, Big J and M joined us and we took a quick boat ride to L’Osteria Santa Maria for dinner, where they fixed a wonderful spaghetti con vongole for J and Big J, and I had amazing prawns. After a nice ride back to the hotel, we crashed for the night!

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