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Trip Report Short trip to Venice, with (some oddball) tours

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This is part of a larger trip for us, but I'll do the Venice part first. It covers four days.

Arrival. We used a booking through Viator to get a shared motorboat taxi from the airport to our hotel (Starhotels Splendid). It cost about $40/pp and worked out great for us. I think from the time we stepped off the plane to our arrival at the hotel was, maybe, 45 mins. Dropped us at the Rialto stop, about a 5-minute walk from our hotel. One frequent contributor here insists that's not worth the money over taking the Alilaguna. Having done both, I disagree, but I'll leave the debate to others.

Hotel. Mentioned above, the Splendid. Warning: I had some travel points to use up, and so I booked this place for next to nothing. I believe the typical cost is in the area of $500/nt. That said, the hotel and its staff were very nice. Great location, about 10 minutes' walk to San Marco. Room was large and very nice, as was the bathroom. Good, quiet A/C. Nice rooftop bar to have a drink at sunset. One night, when we were headed to a restaurant a friend recommended, I mentioned to the desk clerk that I knew the restaurant was close by, but wasn't sure of the locale. He summoned the bellman, who walked us to the restaurant!

Tours. Here's where it gets a bit weird. My wife is in a business dealing with fabrics, so she contacted the people at Fortuny on Giudecca and Bevilacqua on the Grand Canal to ask if we could tour their workshops. Just like that, both said "certo!" These are places that sell handmade fabrics to high-high-end customers for in the range of $1000/ sq. yard. Bevilacqua uses 400-year-old looms to produce most of their stuff. It was fascinating to see. The owner, Alberto, came and greeted us at one point and explained the process. Spent about an hour doing it. In fact, we felt guilty using up his time, but he didn't seem to care.

Fortuny is a bit more secretive about its process, so we'd spent less time there, but they otherwise were just as nice and accommodating as the people at Bevilacqua.

More traditionally, we did the "secret rooms" tour of the Doges Palace one morning. We'd been to Venice several times but, oddly, never went into the DP. The tour includes admission into the regular public areas, but a guide also takes you to some of the living and working areas of that period in the building, such as the prison, including Casanova's cell and the torture room. We had a good guide and enjoyed the tour.

I'll return with more about places to eat and to answer questions. (We're still in Italy, and I must use my time wisely!)

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