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Report 858: Venice 2005: Fantasy Gelato Has Record Year After Our Visit!
By Sglover from Illinois, Fall 2005
Trip Description: A brief overview of our trip to Venice with day trips to Bologna and Verona -- Oct. 14-22.
Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Venice
Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People
Page 1 of 1: Venice
OK, so I left a little gelato at Fantasy Gelato for the rest of you visiting after us but after eight days in Venice, we certainly boosted the gelato economy. Thanks to all who recommended this gem, it made up for me having to forego the vino and if the studies that say that babies taste buds are formed in utero are true, we're going to have a gelato addict on our hands!
Needless to say Venice was wonderful. We enjoyed every minute there and felt we really saw Venice after spending six days there. (We spent a day in Verona and a day in Bologna as well).
Ca Rezzonica, our hotel, was fine. I loved the neighborhood, just off of Campa San Barnaba. The room was decent sized (Room #6) as was the bathroom. It's nothing fancy, no tv, no newpapers, etc. but it is certainly adequate and clean. The breakfast was either outside in the garden every morning or in their small breakfast room (on the one day we had rain). It was basic, cornetto or hard roll, cereal, fruit, juice and coffee/tea, but not being big breakfast eaters that was fine with us. The only downside was the churchbells ringing outside our room every half hour but after awhile, we didn't even notice them (except for the 7:30 am "get your a#$ out of bed" bells).
The only day we didn't have our afternoon gelato was when we stopped into Harry's Bar for a Bellini. (The doctor gave her blessing for one before anyone starts flaming me for being pregnant and drinking!) Outstanding! I know they are over priced but they are so darn good. I also highly recommend the "piccolo sandwiches" fancy grilled ham and cheese sandwiches that were delicious. They were a relative bargain by Harry's Bar standards at only 4.75E.
Well, I suppose I should start at the beginning. We flew UA from O'Hare to Munich then Air Dolomite (code share with UA) to Venice. The flights were fine, no problems being pregnant except the little one was apparently as excited as me as she/he did somersaults and backflips the entire flight. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep, but I digress...
Venice airport is very nice and was easily navigable. We knew we were back in Italy though when we arrived at the Alilaguna dock to find a mob of people, no red line boat, one blue line boat and everyone going nowhere fast. Of course, as soon as the blue boat left, a "private driver" aka taxi driver pulled up to the dock offering a "special rate" to take people directly to San Marco. We waited for the next boat (blue line) and took it, although we were supposed to be on the red line.
An hour and a half later, we landed at Piazza San Marco and bumped our way up and down the bridges with our luggage to our hotel, past Accademia Bridge near Campo San Barnaba. The walk was a bit long for my DH who had to lug one bag to the top of each bridge, switch places with me at the top and then bump my bag up. He didn't complain though; I think he was just thrilled to finally be there!
By the time we got there, it was about 5 pm local time and we crashed for an hour and then asked the hotel owner for a recommendation closeby for dinner. He recommended Taverna San Trovosa (sp?) which was fine, full of tourists, nothing spectacular but not bad by any means. I had a Caprese salad with outstanding mozzarella but green tomatoes (my fault for ordering it out of season), DH had proscuitto. Then we had gnocchi quattro fromaggi (DH) and spaghetti with clams (me). It was a big place and I knew it was definately on the tour book circuit when I saw the waiters had electronic PDAs to enter the orders. But, like I said, the food was fine, we were exhausted and it was close to "home".
Our first full day so we headed out early to Piazza San Marco. No crowds yet despite it being a Saturday so we walked right into the Campanile and rode the elevator to the top. The first thing my DH said was "wow, it really is all water isn't it." I had been there before but he hadn't and was really struck by how water bound Venice really is. I guess I'd never thought about it. We were also struck by how quite it is compared to other places with it having no cars, Vespas, trucks, etc. By the time we got to Bologna, it struck us how loud it was compared to Venice.
Went on to our Secret Itineraries tour at the Doge's Palace. I highly recommend it. It really gave a feel for the place at the time it was used, despite the very "German-like" tour guide who yelled at people for talking and standing too close to the "treasures". Never experienced anyone so uptight in Italy before but she was very informative. After the tour we went back through the public areas of the museum and commented how happy we were we took the tour.
By the time we left, the place was a zoo so we were quite glad we got out early. We grabbed a quick pizza at a take out place and sat on the platforms stacked up for the flooding and marvelled at the number of people waiting in line at the Bascilica and the people who paid to feed the pigeons. Here in Chicago, they try to get rid of the pigeons but whatever floats your boat I suppose (Venice pun fully intended!)
After lunch, we walked right to the front of the line of the Basilica with our online reservation form feeling mighty like big shots! I highly recommend paying the extra Euro to see the Golden Altar at the front of the church-it's spectacular. To think how much it must be worth just for the gold and gems alone!
Saturday night we had a WONDERFUL dinner at Ristorante Agli Alboretti, Accademia 884. This tiny restaurant is very close to the Accademia Bridge; the waitstaff was great. Had pumpkin risotto and branzino (sea bass) and DH had turbot. It was all outstanding. For "dessert" we had a cheese plate and my husband ordered a scotch, to which the waiter replied, "You want whiskey with cheese? Are you sure? No, no, I bring you nice red wine." It was quite humorous and became the quote of the trip. I highly recommend this place and thank whomever recommended it on this board.
Sunday we ventured to Murano and Burano in an attempt to avoid crowds, apparently so did everyone else in Venice as the vaporettos were packed! The one thing I had done on a previous trip to Venice was to see a glass blowing demonstration and my DH had no interest in it so we just strolled around Murano for a few hours and shopped at a few shops. I found some great, more modern jewelry pieces at some shops along the way and would be happy to pass along the names if anyone's interested.
Burano was absolutely charming, the only downside was that there were a ton of people there, jamming the entire main thoroughfare. We got there about 2 pm and all the restaurants were jammed so we just grabbed some pizza and sat in a little piazza just past the main street. After that we wandered some back streets; the colorful houses were so cute and our impression was that you had to have a little $$ to live on Burano.
Sunday night we had dinner at Cip's Club at the Cipriani Hotel on Guidecca. The private boat (a "Ralph Lauren" wooden boat as my mom calls them) picked us up right off San Marco and whisked us over there leaving us feeling like realy big shots! Dinner was again very good; the pumpkin gnocchi literally melted in my mouth and my DH's mushroom ravioli was outstanding as well. We both had fish dishes which were also very good. It was very pricey but you can't beat the ambiance of sitting outside eating dinner with the view of San Marco across from you.
We headed to Bologna on Monday morning. After a two hour train ride, we arrived in Bologna and were smacked in the face by the hustle and bustle of a big city that was totally absent in Venice. There's something to be said about everyone being on vacation and no one being in a hurry as it is in Venice. Plus, how quiet Venice was became strickingly apparent when you were hit by the buzzing of Vespas and car horns. If you can't tell, Bologna wasn't the highlight that I expected it to be.
It was fine. We visited the Basillica and Due Torre and Santo Stefano but just weren't taken in by the city. We did have heavenly, and I mean HEAVENLY, lasagna at Timburini's cafeteria. Actually we had two lunches that day. We went to Timburini looking forward to some lasagna only to find that they didn't have any that day. Well, we were crestfallen but got some pasta which was fine. Then, low and behold, here comes a pan of lasagna. Well, who were we to deny ourselves? My husband goes up to get a piece (one piece I thought) and here he comes back with a huge grin and two pieces! It was the best lasagna I had ever eaten - not heavy at all, unlike us when we left after lunch.
We headed back to Venice and needless to say, didn't have much need for a big dinner so we had a late dinner at Pizzeria Accademia outside at the foot of the Accademia Bridge. The view was spectacular, if a bit chilly, watching the cruise ships leave Venice in a full moon.
Our next day we decided to do some of the walking tours from Rick Steve's guidebook. We did the San Marco to Rialto walk which took us by La Fenice and right past some really cute little shops that I greatly enjoyed. I have a 2 yr. old niece and am having a girl so I couldn't resist a tiny, adorable doll shop where I got each a My Doll, which seems to be the equivalent of the American Girl dolls but they are cloth dolls-each comes with a passport and matching outfits for dolls and owners. I must admit I was sucked in whereas my husband was glad to find a tabacchi with Cuban cigars close by while I browsed.
The Rialto Bridge was nice but PACKED with tourists (listen to me, like I'm not one!) so we decided to come back earlier another day. After doing another RS tour which took us very close to our hotel, my hubby begged off of the Casa Rezzonica museum so I went myself and greatly enjoyed it. Man, that was a good way to live!
Had dinner at Casin di Nobile, a former brothel for the rich in the 1700's, which is right off Campo San Barnaba, which was surprisingly good.
We travelled to Verona the next day and really enjoyed it. It's a beautiful city. My only disappointment was that the German Christmas market that was being set up outside the Arena wasn't open yet, although it looked to be very similar to the one here in Chicago. It would have been fun to go to a German Market in Italy though!
Our last day in Venice we took a very relaxed approach and just wandered around revisiting places we wanted to see again and just hanging out. We did have a wonderful dinner at a very tiny Osteria di 4 Freri right off Campo San Barnaba. It's a tiny little place were reservations are mandatory - we saw them turn many people away and were glad we stopped in the night before to make a reservation. The food was excellent though and our whole meal, two pasta dishes and two fish dishes and one cortoni, was only 28E. I highly recommend this place as a great bargain for great food. The only downside is don't go starving b/c it's only a husband & wife team and the service could be very slow. It was no big deal for us but I wouldn't have wanted to be famished when I arrived.
Overall, we were totally charmed by Venice. It's beauty is incomparable and I'm still dreaming of it three weeks later!
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