We have returned from our glorious 10 day vacation to Italy including three nights in Venice, 2 nights in Lake Garda and 5 nights in Tuscany.
I'd like to personally thank Bob, Stu, Ira and MANY others for your insight and guidance which made this spectacular first anniversary trip possible. Fortunately I followed most of your advice but I realize now that I should have followed it to a "T" because you all have such valuable travel experiences.
Lufthansa airlines 9PM 747, delayed one hour and 15 minutes due to airport traffic. Thankfully our connection layover exceeded 4 hours. Many passengers had the earlier connection (which we failed to get on) and missed it having trouble even getting on our flight. We connected in Frankfurt which is a nice airport with very friendly people. Though I must say I had trouble finding a decent snack/lunch. Our connection was smooth just over one hour into Venice.
Venice airport was nice and we took a private water taxi for 90 euros which really wasn’t worth it because of the poor weather, but I didn’t want to share a boat because our hotel was the very last stop and it was getting VERY LATE. My husband didn’t exactly realize that Venice is all water and no cars at all. So we had an interesting ride over. We got to our hotel nearly 7pm just in time to change and get ready for dinner.
We stayed at the hotel Danieli near St. Marks square. Due to flooding our taxi could barely get under the bridge to get us to our hotel, but with some VERY SWIFT maneuvering, we made it. I was a bit nervous with all handling of our "heavy" luggage, but they managed it quite well. Arriving into the Danieli, slightly jet lagged we were in AWE of the four story GRAND foyer. (I’ll attach a link to our pictures in another post). It was breathtaking and worth every penny hehe. Check in was smooth and we arrived at our hotel room with a complimentary bottle of champagne and truffles since it was our anniversary. We were happy! Our room was an inside room about 30 sq meters, room 221. It was beautifully decorated including a white marble bath. It was the smallest room we’ve ever stayed in, but we expected it! I must say the amenities, décor and location did make up for the short comings in the room size. We had a great blow dryer (which was a relief since my converter and adapter didn’t work). They had a towel warmer in the bathroom, slippers, robes (of course) and a vanity stool for me to sit on when getting ready. The TV and stations were actually the best we had for our trip, but that was not saying much at all. There was 3 english channels and cnn was one of them. I guess we’re not on vacation to watch TV but its something we’re used to in New York.
RESTAURANTS and EVENING adventures:
The FIRST night we ate at our hotel the Danieli at the rooftop restaurant with some of the best views of the Grand Canal. My husband Chris enjoyed his risotto immensely but I was disappointed with the John Dory I ordered (which is one of my favorite fishes). The service was great but as advised, some of the best meals in Venice, and in Italy are not at hotels, they are at Osteria’s and Trattorias. This is unlike New York and was something valuable I learned on my trip thanks to all here. We walked around and watched a puppeteer for 20 minutes. They seemed silly at first, but were quite talented. That evening we had drinks and listened to music at the Danieli Bar. The martini’s were (gasp) 20 euros and higher. But if you’re staying there I guess we’re not supposed to gasp about the price hehe. The SECOND day we had a light lunch in Venice, nothing spectacular but good enough. That night May 27th was our first anniversary. How quickly the year went! We ate at our Taverna La Fernice and headed to the Casino afterward. The restaurant was completely dead at 7:00pm. We were the first to arrive and were over anxious for other guests to join us because we felt weird dining alone. The food and service was excellent. I wouldn’t run back there but we really had a lovely anniversary dinner. After dinner we headed to the casino and I stress headed! What an adventure getting there. The waiter notioned that it was a 20 minute walk, well 20 minutes by boat would be accurate, 45 minutes LATER on foot we nearly got a divorce. The weather didn’t cooperate so there was high tides and flooding. Eventually I said we need to get directions or head home. Luckily we found the tourist information area and they guided us to get a taxi (for 40 euro) to the casino. The casino was on the northern part of Venice near the train. It was very elegant (jackets required) and most of the people there was high rollers (and we most certainly are not). They request your passport to get and take your picture. They you have to walk up nearly 100 steps to reach the table games (3 big flights of stairs). I felt like an out of shape American by the time we got to the top because I was panting. The casino was stuffy, a bit more stuffy than the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo if that’s possible. It’s a bit more remote I guess. People spoke little English here but we managed. The only negative was ordering drinks. They really didn’t understand vodka martini and after 20 minutes of thinking I was drinking the worst vodka it dawned on me I was drinking gin. Ow well! The third and last day we had the most incredible and delicious lunch in Venice at Ristorante “da Carletto” (calle delle Bande 041 52 27 944). It was tucked away behind a metal gated window on a darker street. A hidden gem! My husband had Gnocchi Venetian style which was in a tomato sauce. They were so light and small, just mouth watering delicious. As a result of this meal Chris and I ended up ordering gnocchi at nearly every restaurant to try to find something comparable (and we did not). Our last night we didn’t know where to eat because of the terrible weather and pouring rain. We made and changed our reservation about 7 times in our room. Eventually we walked around and had a light dinner at a pizzeria restaurant. I thought I’d try prawns but they arrived uncut with heads, tails and eyes. Gross! I couldn’t wait to get out of there. We passed a restaurant on our way home called La Forno which looked incredible. They actually gave us a suggestion for dessert. We ate at All Angelo’s on a street with that name. It was good, very good with delicious wine! (note to all: look at for service charges and cover charges). Our last night we listened to music at the Danieli Bar again. The musician was very talented, we thought we’d sit for 10 minutes and stayed nearly 2 hours. He was so good, we started writing down the names of the songs he sang for our memories.
SIGHTS and SHOPPING:
We took a lovely gondola ride on the inner canals as the water was choppy. It was romantic and I’d love to do it again, in fact I’d love to return to Venice. 3 nights was too short, we really adored the city. We saw St. Marks square and some sights in the area but didn’t venture out as we hoped because of the limited time and uncooperative weather. We ended up doing a lot of shopping, more than anticipated. They had wonderful men’s clothes and I found some things for myself OF COURSE. It was fun and the shops were so unique. I was sad to leave because it was truly memorable and romantic. The streets and people really make it magical.
We took another 70 euro water taxi (too lazy to take a more affordable one) to Piazza Roma to pick up our rental car from AutoEurope aka Europecar. The process was smooth and incredibly quick. To our surprise, they upgraded our car one entire class free of charge. We got a regular size (c class) and ended up with midsize (e class). It was immaculate and about a year old. I’m glad it was larger because I underestimated just how many pieces of luggage we’d bring (another lesson we learned, try to pack LESS).
We headed to Lake Garda with more favorable weather conditions. Exiting Venice was quite easy (with the help of my Garmin nuvi GPS).
TRIP TO BE CONTINUED…
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