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Report 2013: Two Splendid Weeks in Northern Italy

By Engred from Oregon, Fall 2011

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Page 13 of 14: Orsoni and a Casino

We had breakfast at the hotel, where there was a very nice buffet. The water taxi then picked us up and delivered us to the Orsoni factory. Orsoni is a famous producer of tiles and has a world-renown school for mosaics. Taking a mosaic class at Orsoni is now firmly on my bucket list! We had a very nice tour with a young woman who explained the process for making the tiles and showed us their “library” of tiles, which has every color imaginable. We walked through the workshop, admiring the works in progress. She also showed us Domus Orsoni (Cannaregio, 1045), which is akin to a boutique motel where you can rent one of five rooms, all of which have amazing mosaics. It really is a fascinating place that I hope to return to some day.

We then made our way to a hotel, where we met a very nice woman who gave us a tour of two special gardens in Venice, one of which was located at the hotel. Since Venice is made up of a series of tiny islands, space is at a premium and therefore gardens are relatively rare in Venice. However, the garden at the hotel was amazing, with lush plants, hidden fountains and sculpture, footpaths and bridges and a secret underground room. Of course, it also had a view at one end of the lagoon. We then took the taxi to the second garden, which is at a private home. It was smaller than the hotel garden, but this garden is on the Grand Canal – likely the only one. It had several beautiful sculptures, one of which was being cleaned with a toothbrush. There was also a lovely iron gazebo that was covered in roses. What an amazing hidden gem!

Bidding our guide goodby, we were off to lunch at Al Bottegon – our favorite ciccetti bar!! The boys got a spot at the bar, so we were able to stand there with our wine and eat our fill of crostini. This is one of my favorite places to eat in Venice.

Following lunch, we went back to the hotel where J took a nap and the rest of us wandered around finally arriving at Casino Venier. The Casino has a very interesting history and beautiful interiors that are fairly well preserved. After our short visit, we made our way back to the hotel, passing the famous spiral staircase (which unfortunately was closed for renovation). We visited Museo Querini, a museum next door that is usually closed but was open for a special modern art exhibition. We could actually see the courtyard of the museum from our room above, so it was great to see the installation from ground level! This show of modern art was not especially to my taste, but it was interesting to see the inside of the museum and the views onto the side canals. On our way back to the hotel, we discovered that our hotel was right around the corner from Giorgio Nason, one of our favorite jewelers in Italy. Of course we had to stop, and of course a couple of purchases were made!

After a quick refresh, we all met downstairs for aperitivo on the veranda overlooking the Grand Canal. What a lovely way to start the evening! A couple of spritzes later, we had dinner at Al Covo, a popular traditional restaurant. It is a very cozy and comfortable restaurant, and we enjoyed a great meal that included a fantastic pinwheel of sole and zucchini, pacceri in a spinach sauce and a starter of prosciutto. Very good meal to end the day!

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