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Finally...our 19 day glorious October 2007 (very long detailed) trip report to Italy!

Finally...our 19 day glorious October 2007 (very long detailed) trip report to Italy!

Old Mar 17th, 2008, 07:01 PM
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Great trip report. My DH just got home from work & I said after reading this trip report, I am convinced we must go to Italy soon!!
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Old Mar 17th, 2008, 07:31 PM
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adventureseeker -

I had to laugh at the following:

<i>&quot;DH’s choice: Museo Navale Storico (Naval Museum). Our 7 yr old son loves anything with wings or wheels, so we were making a visit in his honor <b>(and my “older” son….DH)</b>.</i>

I usually refer to my DH as &quot;my ten-year old with 45 years experience.&quot;

I'm enjoying reading your trip report, so far. Looking forward to the next installment.

Robyn &gt;-
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 06:37 AM
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DAY 2</b>

October 12, Friday…(continued)

Dinner at lively Vini da Gigio http://www.vinidagigio.com/index_eng.html. Here the 4 of us explored Venetian dining at it’s best. The restaurant was made up of 2 rooms and had a cozy ambiance to it. Our pleasant server spoke some English, so we were able to use some of our broken Italian. Our dinner companions weren’t as adventurous as us in trying the seafood, but found some “not so exotic” choices on the menu they were happy with.

We began with a Venetian “sushi” raw fish platter. Next up: black squid ink pasta and calamari salad. Finished with grilled monkfish and a sumptuous tuna tartare. Drink of choice: delizioso local Soave (white wine). Cost for 2: 97E (1 bottle of vino).
Tip: advance reservations are a MUST!

After a fabulous meal coupled with laughs and great conversation, we all head over to Hotel Danieli for a nightcap. The lobby of the Danieli is worth a peek. Ornate and grandeur it represented Venetian’s past. Unfortunately the rooftop lounge closes after sunset…bummer. We did take in the views, although it was dark, we could easily see why a drink here at sunset is touted as one of the musts in Venice. We knew that
St. Mark’s Square would be “open”, so we head over for some music. As we walked across the square, the orchestra was playing one of Andrea Bocelli’s songs. It was very apropos and moving. The perfect song for our friends’ last night in Venezia…almost as if the maestro knew. After a few sets, the hunt was on for gelato. We found a gelato stand close by with prices to match it’s location of being right on the square. Me: Pistachio and Limone. DH: Limone and Berry. Friends: Pistachio and Coffee. It was late and we head back to the inn where we were greeted by and met the last of LO’s fabulous crew: Igor.

<b>DAY 3</b>
Pinch ourselves…we’re in Venice!

<b>October 13, Saturday</b>

No rest for the wicked…..we’re up at the crack of dawn again (6:30am). (Are we nuts or what?) I can’t say that we aren’t tired, but the thought of missing Venice’s early morning scene makes us jump out of bed. This time we head to St. Mark’s Square first. No one is there. It’s a beautiful sunrise and I snap a dozen photos of the Campanile as the sun’s rays frame it. Each photo looks different. I’ve heard St. Mark’s called the “greatest drawing room in Europe”. That’s the truth.

We enjoyed yesterday’s vaporetto ride up and down the Grand Canal so much yesterday morning that we do it again. Line #1 on the way up, Line #82 on the way back. It’s a bit nippy out and we stand behind the operator’s booth to block the cold air. He is softly singing. We note that this operator is a much better singer than the last guy. Another operator soon joins him in the booth and now we have a duet going. I can’t resist and take out my camera which has a “movie” function. I do so <u>very</u> discreetly holding the camera low and aiming it up. I feel a bit guilty being so secretive, but this moment is too good to pass up. The other guy catches on that I’m recording them. I’m so busted. I motion “is it okay?”. He smiles and then they really ham it up.

We get off at the Rialto stop and go check out the markets. On the walk back to the inn, I notice an undescript church. Something about it calls out to me. We step inside and are awed. I wasn’t prepared for such an overwhelming feeling. I light a candle and continue to admire it’s beauty. We didn’t plan many church visits in our itinerary, only the SM Basilica (which we passed on) and Santa Croce in Florence. That will change from here forward. More of the same as we press on….cool alleyways, beautiful buildings. Back at the inn, we are welcomed with the smells of breakfast. We are happy to see our friends, grab a seat next to them and reminisce about our great evening the night before. We exchange email addresses and vow to stay in touch (which we do!). More conversations with LO crew: DH talks to Igor about music and classical guitar, I talk to GiGi about life in Italy and our plan for the day. Simple pleasures….

We have an 11:35 reservation for the <b>Secret Itineraries tour at Doge’s Palace</b>. We get cleaned up and off we go…..

Tip: Reservations fill up fast and there are only so many openings to go around…plan early if able. We whizzed by the lines and right in. Our group was about 15-20 people. Our guide did an outstanding job explaining the history of the palace and the Venetian empire. I’ve never been a history buff, but I was very interested. DH was a happy camper soaking it all in like a sponge. The palace is gorgeous and grand. The tour takes us behind the scenes to the secret chambers and torture rooms. Fascinating. The story about Casanova’s escape was intriguing. We were privy to the rafters and the weaponry collection in the attics. The tour lasts about 2 hours. We spent another hour touring the remainder of the palace (incredible art, palatial rooms, jail and bridge of sighs)…and we didn’t see it all. The higher floors offering such photo op’s of the canal and environs.

Bottom line…..Secret Itineraries Tour: A definite must and highly recommended.

Next stop: Dorsoduro. We wanted to see the Squero (Gondola workshop) which was very easy to locate. You can only view it from across the small canal. The architecture is very chalet-like….hence hard to miss. Two workers were busy moving supplies and such. I felt like we were in a scene out of the Willy Wonka/Charlie and the Chocolate factory movie when the kids first spot the Oompah Loompahs working across the chocolate river. Hee hee. We continued and walked along the Zattere Promenade which is on the Giudecca canal. This area was so peaceful and relaxing compared to the promenade on San Marco. It was enjoyable to explore the small alleys and walkways. I spied a trio of nuns walking towards us. As they passed, I snapped a behind shot of them walking towards the Giudecca. This would be another of my favorite photos of our trip.

We cruised around and came upon the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute (one of the most photographed churches in Italy….and we can see why!). The exterior dome was under renovation and covered in scaffolding. This spot boasted excellent views of the popular San Marco promenade. We sat on the steps for a bit and took it all in. Breathtaking. Inside the Basilica we were (once again) blown away by the sheer beauty and serenity of these ancient churches.

Lunch break. We head towards La Zucca Ristorante http://www.lazucca.it/ in the San Polo district which has been on my list since we began planning this trip. I read reports upon reports about it’s mouthwatering squash dishes, pumpkin ravioli, etc. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk over. The route was very off-the-beaten-path as we barely ran into a soul. We found La Zucca (smack dab in the middle of nowhere, it seemed. I can see why many have a difficult time finding it) which, unfortunately was closed. The staff was cleaning up and we asked what time they opened for dinner. They were closed that night for a private party. And closed Sundays. Bummer….I was disappointed, but it’s more the reason to come back to Venice (which was already on the plan).

<b><u>SAN POLO DISTRICT</u></b>
Now I’m beginning to get really hungry and tired. I didn’t want to get cranky, but felt it coming on. We were in the middle of a residential area which was charming, but when hungry, it didn’t seem very charming. We finally stumbled onto <b>Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio</b>. This produced such smiles on our faces….not only were there cafes, but this area boasted such Venetian life. This campo was such a gem. Generations of families were gathered….chatting, laughing and watching the kids play soccer/ride scooters. Everyone seemed to know each other. We spied a small caf&eacute; with tables near “the action”, so we had a seat. I could feel my crankiness subside. It was a warm day and the sun felt good. After a hearty pasta lunch, we wandered around the small alleys nearby that were filled with excellent artisan workshops (a slew of maskmakers) which boasted gorgeous window displays of colorful, whimsical masks, dolls, etc. A gelateria was nearby, so we forced ourselves to partake. Flavors of choice: Me: Hazelnut, DH: Berry. Next was <b>La Pedrera (bottega d’arte artigianale)</b> a fabulous artisan boutique filled to the rim with great contemporary artwork, trinkets, etc. I found many small treasures (including a big treasure of an original contemporary watercolor of the canals/gondola done in a wonderful earthtone palette). This place was a find for gifts to bring home.

We wandered around for a couple hours and made our way back to the inn to freshen up for dinner. Plan: go to <i>Bacaro’s</i> (wine bars) for <i>ciccheiti </i>(Venetian tapas). Bancogiro and Naranzaria http://www.naranzaria.it/eng-home.htm in the Rialto area were on our list. When we got there, it was SO crowded. So much so that people were spilled out onto the square. Another small disappointment, but C’est la vie!

We ended up having a great meal right on the Grand Canal at Caffe’ Saraceno which we expected to be mediocre and overpriced (due to it’s location), but were pleasantly surprised. The views, service and meals were all fabulous. We started with a mista salad, shared a simple pasta and DH had grilled local fish ; me: calamari. We had a good (not great) bottle of Amarone vino. Price: 81E

The early mornings are catching up to us. We nix St. Mark’s orchestras and head (or crawl) back to the inn for a full night of ZZZzzz’s.

<b>Next….Art overload Day #4

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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 08:16 AM
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Thanks for the post, I'm reliving Venice through your report. More, more, please don't keep us waiting.
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 08:20 AM
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What a lovely and entertaining trip report. I am looking forward to more - and please make it as long and detailed as possible. I especially enjoy the feelings you express so well.
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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Loving the report!
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 01:43 PM
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Grazie all. I'm working as fast as I can!

Happy you're reliving and enjoying....
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 02:40 PM
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We are leaving on Sunday for the Rome-Venice-Florence trifecta! Keep posting! We need to know what to do!!
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 02:48 PM
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Hi adventureseeker,

I will be in Venice in May, and am loving your trip report. Great details! I have printed out parts of it to take along with me. I'm staying at Corte Grimani, which I think is close to Locanda Oreseolo, so happy to hear it is in a good location.

Glad you had a great trip. Looking forward to the rest of your report.

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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 03:08 PM
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Hi a'seeker,

what great timing! we're off to Venice for a week on Good Friday so I'm trying to soak up all the info i can. I've been before - the first time with DH over 25 years ago, and the last time about 18 months ago, but this will be the first time for our &quot;kids&quot; [rather large kids aged 20 &amp; 17].

Anything you saw/did that you think they might like particularly?

Incidentally I particularly appreciated the descriptions of Venice in the early morning - last time I went to got up early every morning to watch Venice coming alive and this saturday I have an early appointment with the Rialto market. Fortunately our apartment is just over the bridge so i shouldn't have too far to carry my goodies.

thanks for such a great report,

regards, ann
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 03:13 PM
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Great report so far, adventureseeker, and your photos are terrific! It so brings back my last trip to Venice...oh how I wish I were there now.
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 04:55 PM
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Wonderful report! And fantastic photos too. We're waivering between Italy and Taiwan for next year - your tales make me lean more towards Italy!
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 07:59 PM
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Wonderful report and pixs! Thanks so much for all this great info. Especially liked your food photos...wow did those ever make me hungry!
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 08:48 PM
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The food photos are brilliant! I love seeing them all gathered together in one place.
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 09:27 PM
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Adventureseeker --
I really like the style of your report and have so much fun reading it! Please don't slow down! Can't wait to hear the rest.

thank you for sharing!
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 09:29 PM
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What a fantastic and comprehensive trip report. I will save it for a future trip to Italy. I love the organization and sharing everything you learned and including what you would do differently!....that's awesome.
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 11:36 PM
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<b>DAY 4</b>

<b>October 13, Saturday</b>
Our last full day in Venice….Art overload

<b><u>REST FOR THE WICKED…finally!</u></b>
We wake at 6:30am AGAIN. However this time we decide to sleep in. Rest is crucial to tackle our last full day in Venice. ZZZzzzz. No alarms are set as we “wake up when we wake up”. Big mistake. It’s 11am when we wake up. Breakfast is no longer being served. Aaargh!

We quickly rise, get ready and bolt. We travel in the direction of La Fenice theater since we had enjoyed this area when we did the tour. We stop in a few artisan boutiques. One in particular which we highly recommended: <b>Arca Teresa della Valentina</b> Santa Croce 1811 Calle Tentor. This shop is located on a side street near the theater. The artist Teresa is on site working away creating unique works of art: ceramics, whimsy miniature dolls and bold/vibrant oil paintings. All gorgeous, each one different and at VERY reasonable prices. At one time I had a stack of a dozen framed 4 X 6 paintings (each priced at 10E) under my arm trying to decide which for who (gifts for friends). Our creative friends back home loved these unique treasures. I spent 45 min. here and DH (who is as patient as a saint) wasn’t being very “saintly”. I can’t blame him as I was starving too.

<b><u>CAMPO S. ANZOLO</u></b>
We continue on the path and take a few rights and lefts. We stumble upon a great square <b>campo S. Anzolo</b>. This will round out our “top three” list of fave squares. It was odd shaped and framed with odd sized/shaped buildings. We locate a bustling caf&eacute;’ on the corner with a window piled high with overstuffed paninis. Brunch here will make me feel better about missing our LO breakfast. This place is jam packed with locals…mostly standing and drinking their apertivo (lo spritz). You’ll notice the locals . with glasses of pale orange colored drinks…that’s lo spritz. We order up a couple paninis, bowl of fresh fruit and a try a lo spritz. We pay a service charge to sit at a table. Our first sip of lo spritz isn’t a good one. DH crinkles his nose. “It kinda has a medicine-y taste to it”, he says. My turn. Now I know what to expect, so anything will actually taste better. The more sips I took, the more I liked (not loved) it. It’s definitely an acquired taste. We joke as we’re eating our fruit bowl….”so this is what an Italian strawberry tastes like, an Italian banana, etc.” We’re in excellent spirits…..must’ve been all the ZZZzzz’s.

We discovered a gem of an <b>antique shop</b> tucked away nearby. I pop in and found a small metal statue of Venice’s winged lion and an old bound italian scrip of “Ridotto” with my adored clown Pulcinella on the cover. Great finds at a bargain price (15E total). I love perusing flea markets and antique shops so having small treasures just like these as mementos of our trip was gratifying.

<b><u>PALAZZO GRASSI</u></b>
This great palazzo filled with modern art was our next stop. From our rides on the vaporetto, we got a sneak preview by seeing the massive steel skull and the paper mache’ head perched outside the palazzo…hard to miss and pretty cool. Although I’m not a modern art aficionado, I’ve been anticipating this visit. We had already seen Guggenheim’s art collection and this would be another in the modern genre. I’m beginning to wonder if we should’ve just stuck to one contemporary collection and explore more Venetian art? Once I step inside, I know that this was the right choice. I wish they allowed photos. The palazzo itself with its massive marble columns and banisters was a gem in itself. The art here was sprinkled throughout the airy spacious rooms. A true juxtaposition of modern art meets old world Palazzo. Very avante-garde. The art collections rotate frequently. This collection coupled with the palazzo which housed it ranked way up there with me. DH: the jury is still out. Although there were many exhibits he liked, most of the bizarre stuff kept him thinking, “huh?”. http://www.palazzograssi.it/

….more importantly, especially not on your last day in Venice. We decided to visit Ca’ Rezzonico (thx to the recommendation by Fodor’s Girlspytravel). This is an interesting peek inside a palazzo set up and furnished like how the Venetians once lived. Another example of a grandeur palazzo (aren’t they all?). We both enjoyed this visit and opted to do the audio tour. The audio version was very detailed and intense. I’d enjoy it more if I were more fresh and not already feeling information and art overload. I especially fell in love with the incredible art collection that the palazzo housed. That in itself is worth the visit. I was feeling now that we had a decent sampling of Venetian art to balance the modern art we’d already viewed. We’d highly recommend Ca’ Rezzonico.

It was already afternoon. I wish we hadn’t spent our entire last day in Venice sleeping late and in museums. We were in need of a snack and wanted to linger at one of our fave campos: San Stefano. So…off we went. Today being Sunday was a much different scene at San Stefano than previous days. We’d lunched here on our first day and managed to almost always pass through a couple times a day when en route just to savor it. The scene today: more locals out and about. Groups of them (all wearing black..for all you fashionistas out there!) together in caf&eacute;s chatting away and drinking lo spritz. The servers would come out time and time again with trays of the pale orange liquid drinks. We grab a table and order a beer (DH) and local white soave (me). We don’t talk much, but instead quietly enjoy our last day in our fave square taking it all in. Gelato break: <b>Paolin Gelateria</b>….hands down our pick for the best gelato we’ve had in Venice. Me: hazelnut DH: limone

We wander the back alleys nearby once more and discover a grouping of artisan workshops. One is a small gallery/shop where the owner is working on masks. I ask permission to take photos. He is a master. We are enthralled by his craft and the quickness of his hands.
Watching an authentic maskmaker at work was an experience for us. I purchase one of his mini masks with the long beak (a steal at 10E) to display with my other mementos.

<b><u>Thought of the day…</u></b>
As our day is coming to an end I ponder if we would’ve loved Venice as much if we would’ve only spent a couple days here. The answer is…no. Most day trippers and those that stay for just a couple days don’t really get a chance to see Venice’s true essence. Maybe that’s not the way it is for all people, but most would just do the main “attractions”: St. Mark’s, Rialto Bridge, Gondola ride (during the day with hundreds of others), etc.

I wholeheartedly agree with many posters on this board that recommend 3 days or more. Don’t short change yourself. Give Venice her due….better yet, let her give it to you.

<b>Next….our fabulous last supper in Venice and Gondola ride</b>

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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 07:10 AM
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LOVE LOVE LOVE your report - what talent you have for remembering (I'm impressed) and describing. I also adored your food photos and, after seeing them, thought of you as a kindred spirit. I've been attracted to food, food markets, displays everywhere I've traveled in the world and have quite a collection to the point where my daughters say &quot;Oh yeah, here's another one of Mom's food photos.&quot;

So excited ... we are leaving in less than 2 weeks. This is my third time in Venice but my first with my new(ish) husband and that adds to the excitement. I'm copying down your suggestions like crazy.

Mille grazie to you !!
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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Thanks for your wonderful report---you clearly love Venice as much as I do! Was there in last year and am ending up going back in May, You found a favorite place (not far from Al Ponte Mocenigo where Istayed)---Campo Giacomo Dell' Orio. I fell in love with that place and how it felt early evening.

There were a few things you mentioned that I didn't do last time (secret tour thing)but will in May, thanks to your raves.
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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 11:21 AM
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Once again you are all too kind. Grazie for your kind comments.

...you all make me want to either:

A) Nix work and other necessary stuff to pump out the rest of the report pronto


B) book my next flight to Venice

Cathies: wait until you read the Cinque Terre portion of this report. Vernazza left a very lasting impression on us. I still get very emotional looking at those photos.
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