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Report 575: A Perfect Week in Venice

By constance235 from USA, Winter 2004

Trip Description: December 12-19, 2004. Seven magical days in Venice.

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Venice

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Foodie Trip; Opera; Shopping; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 8: Seven Days in Venice - Preparations and Background

We spent a week in Venice, December 12-19, 2004. This was a great time to visit. We had fantastic weather, lots of bright sunshine and fairly warm days. A couple of cold and gray days as well, but nothing too awful. The city was very uncrowded. (Off season plus weak dollar, I guess, but we saw virtually no other Americans). Often we were the only people in restaurants or in churches. There were no lines and no crowding. The last day, we began to see more tourists, mostly British. We fell in love with the city. One of the most wonderful weeks our lives.

We stayed at the Hotel Ai Mori D’Oriente, which I highly, highly recommend. The hotel is on the Fondamente de la Sensa in the Cannaregio. This is a very residential and quiet address. The hotel, which is new, was beautiful. It has a kind of “moorish” flavor. Our room was a nice size, with a large, sparkling bathroom. There were heavy linen ironed sheets on the bed, which were changed fresh each day. (I want freshly ironed sheets each day at home, but it won’t happen). The rate included breakfast (hard-boiled eggs, meats and cheeses, yogurt, cereal, pastries and rolls, orange juice, grapefruit juice, great coffee). The staff was lovely (“turn-down service” each night, with a card with the next day’s weather).

We booked a package on Expedia, about $950. per person, including round trip airfare from the midwest to Venice on Delta and 7 nights at the hotel. I did a lot of research, checking rates on various sites and at the hotel itself and figured this was a good deal. (It became an even better deal because we paid in August and didn’t have the depressed dollar to contend with after that).

I prepared a lot for this trip. For me, part of the pleasure of traveling is reading and researching. Every night, after dinner, I would get in bed and read about Venice. I read many guidebooks (Blue Guide, Timeout, DK); travel accounts (Joseph Brodsky’s "Watermark," Harold Brodkey’s "My Venice," and my favorite, perhaps the best book I read about Venice Mary McCarthy’s "Venice Observed"; books about Venetian art, including Ruskin’s "Stones of Venice" and some books about Venetian painting; a couple of novels, Donna Leon and Barry Unsworth’s "Stone Virgin," which is a wonderful book about Madonna del Orto, Mann’s "Death in Venice" (on the plane) and Ian McEwan’s "The Comfort of Strangers" (eerily in Venice).

To give you a context for what follows: My husband and I are in our 50s. Both of us teach English, and we did this trip on our winter break. We travel as much as we can, usually alternating hiking trips (American southwest, Canadian Rockies, Pacific coast, etc.) with trips to Europe to visit cities. We do not have an endless budget, but we like to eat. We compromise by trying to find reasonable places to stay and inexpensive places to eat lunch, and then go out to dinner. We like street food and museums and just walking around. So Venice was perfect for us.

What follows is a summary of what we did for seven days. A lot of what we encountered we had read about and were looking forward to (especially the art). But we also made several new discoveries: e.g., the spritz, the fun of sitting or standing in a Venetian bar, the pleasure of riding in the back of the vaporetto, the views from the Fondamente Nove, the afternoon light, the friendliness of the people we met in restaurants.

Venice was more wonderful than we had expected (and we were expecting a lot). Not nearly as crowded or touristy as we had been warned (at least when we were not around San Marco). We were surprised at how many people we saw leading regular, ordinary lives, especially in "our neighborhood" in the Cannaregio. We tried to live in Venice for a week, and we loved it.

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