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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 19th, 2008, 11:27 AM
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Thank you, adventureseeker, for sharing your unjaded impressions. Very refreshing. Looking forward to additional posts and your glorious photographs. Thanks again.
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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 11:31 AM
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ready2travel,

Grazie right back at ya!

I have a huge memory capacity for (unnecessary) details. Being an overly sensory person I can easily recall the "feeling" that an experience has left me.

A good friend gave me a fancy arty journal before I left to record my thoughts. You can probably guess that not only was it too small, I only wrote in it the first day. My journaling was quickly jotted down as chickenscratch that only I could read. On pages of pages of scattered papers. It's been an experience in itself to put it in order and reflect while creating a trip report.

My scibbled notes and 2,122 photos (not counting the numerous ones which were deleted each day) taken on my digital camera has kept the memories alive and vivid.

kathrynj,
The secret is out about our "best little campo that could". (Campo Giacomo Dell' Orio). Glad to know that others loved it as much!

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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 11:35 AM
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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 11:36 AM
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 09:29 AM
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A question regarding your time in Venice. The hosts at LO recommended that we take a private guided tour of Venice during our 4 nights there in April. I had not planned on that, figuring that we would be able to enjoy Venice by seeing a few key things on our list, and then wandering with the help of fodorites like you, our map, LO's guidance, and some recommended walks from guidebooks and maybe Rick Steves' audio guides. You did not take a private guided tour - do you think it would have been helpful? Please keep in mind that we, unlike you, will not be rising at 6 AM, although we do plan to make it to every one of those breakfasts! So there won't be as many hours in our days as in yours!

And thanks again for your very enjoyable report.
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 09:58 AM
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Thank you so much for this trip report. I absolutely love it. I am going to Venice for the first time in Oct. 08 and some of the information in your report is invaluable. Your descriptions have made me even more excited about visiting Venice.
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:12 AM
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Loving this report - makes me remember how my first sight of Piazza San Marco on a warm autumn evening made me burst into tears. I love Venice and it sounds as though you managed to see how truly amazing it is, in spite of the hordes of tourists and commercialism.
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 10:52 AM
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Waiting for the rest of this great report
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 11:13 AM
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butnotrmpt,

Personally I think you have enough info to be able to tour Venice yourself without a guide. BUT, guided tours are great to give you a planned tour w/ insider's info/history you wouldn't get otherwise.

I guess the best advice I can give regarding your question is that will feel satisfied (based on your current plan and information you've gathered) by <u>not</u> taking a guided tour?

You will be able to see so much since you've got 4 days there.

I did a TON of research/planning and still had a very loose itinerary (besides plugging in the specific reservations). If you have a good map, you can create your own &quot;tours&quot; by breaking up Venice into its <b>sections</b>. ie. Dorsoduro: have a plan of what you'd like to see in this area and using your map you can see what else there interests you: I <u>started out </u>with something like this:

Dorsoduro:
*Peggy Guggenheim
*Squero (Gondola workshop)
*walk the Zattare Promenade
*maskmaker shops
*lunch at______________

Then, you can map out which route to take to get there and hit a few churches, campos, etc. that are in it's path along the way.

We ended up doing the Guggenheim on day #1, but did our Dorsoduro &quot;tour&quot; on day #3. Our walk on the Zattare led to the Basilica di S. Mara della Salute. So we checked it out. And of course, leave wiggle room for wandering and exploring.

We covered alot of ground, but there was so much still left to see/explore.

All in all we were VERY pleased with how our trip unfolded in Venice.










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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 11:33 AM
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Just a note....

During the planning stages, I was unsure about whether or not I was going to like Venice based on the fact that many (esp. on this board) either &quot;Love it or Hate it&quot;.

Being a romantic, I wanted to <u>really&lt;/&gt; love Venice, but I was afraid I wouldn't.

I made sure to research and plan based on things that interest DH and I (can you tell I'm the trip planner in this partnership?). Attractions that I felt were going to inspire and move us took precedence over the &quot;top ten&quot; or &quot;musts&quot;.

After taking this trip...it really is a matter of &quot;beauty lies in the eye of the beholder&quot;.

</u>
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 11:36 AM
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yikes...I forgot to preview my last post.

Please ignore that annoying underline!
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Old Mar 20th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 06:24 AM
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<b>VENICE: PART 7:

DAY 4 (October 13, Saturday)</b>
….our fabulous last supper in Venice and Gondola ride
<u>OUR LAST SUPPER IN VENICE</u>
Since this was our last meal in Venice, we wanted it to be special. Naturally, the researcher that I am….there were about a dozen restaurants on the list to choose from. This would be our “official” Anniversary dinner (well, actually, we did one of those in every city we visited, but this would be our Venice version). We talked to friends who’ve been to Venice and they raved about Acqua Pazza. http://veniceacquapazza.com/ Which I’ll refer to as “AP” throughout the rest of this report. Our friends gave us a play-by-play on what they ate, drank, the works. They are foodies and outstanding cooks so they knew what they were talking about. So..AP it would be. I had emailed “our friends” at LO 2 weeks prior to our trip to make reservations for us at AP. We selected dinner (once again) early -7pm. We always opted for early dinner reservations since our plan was to catch a musical performance after dinner one of these evenings.
We’re back at the inn, get ready and off we go. AP is located in campo San Anzolo. When we get there, once again…we’re the first ones there (note….dinners at most places that accept reservations will begin at 7pm). I recall while doing my research that it stated that Venetians don’t eat late. I beg to differ. We have the choice of outside or inside dining. It’s a gorgeous night, so we choose outside.
Our gracious server speaks some English, so we’re able to use our broken Italian once again…yippee! The menu arrives and it’s in Italian. No prob…the server helps us on dishes we can’t make out. By 7:30, the place is packed. We made our choices and then took in the surroundings while waiting.
We decide upon tonight’s special: local fish for 2. This is where our Italian phrasebook came in handy…..DH and I joked about an Italian phrase in the book that stated, “we’d like something with no eyeballs”. Touche’. Before our meal was served, the waiter brought over a whole local (raw) fish called Breal/Dentex…<b>eyeballs and all</b>, for us to “approve”. Now, I’m expecting it to come out w/ “cooked eyeballs”. While waiting for our meal with eyeballs, we polish off a lightly breaded calamari appetizer. Yum. Our server comes over with a massive platter. It nearly takes up the entire table It’s our fish presented and filleted beautifully on a platter with thinly sliced grilled zucchini drizzled in olive oil (and not an eyeball is sight…phew!). At first we thought we’d never finish it all. It was enough food for 4 people. This meal melted in our mouths and we wiped the plate clean. Not a morsel in sight. It was washed down with a Supertuscan red vino. FABULOUS!
We struck up a conversation with the couple at the next table who just arrived in Venice that afternoon (lucky ducks). They had just finished their meals also. The waiter plops down a (complimentary) cold bottle of something brownish on our table with 2 small “shot-like” glasses. He does the same for the couple at the next table. Theirs is yellowish. Now it’s all coming to me. This is the local<i>aperitivo</i> liqueur which is customary in Venice (like the lo spritz). Aha…..I recall now our friends back home telling us something like “it was like milk of magnesia”….that was their aperitivo. Okey dokey….now’s a good time to bring up that DH and I aren’t coffee drinkers, never have nor never will be….we never acquired a taste for it. Bummer that we’re in Europe, the coffee (or should I say caffe’) capitol of the world. I envy those who can sit at a caf&eacute;’ with their tiny espresso or cappuccino. For us, it’s tea. In our bottle is a coffee-like liqueur. We try it, it tastes more like a cold chocolate w/ a bite of coffee. Not bad. I really want the yellow stuff at the next table. So, we trade. Aaahhh….Limoncello. This was our priciest meal of all, but worth it: 149E
I use the ladies room before we leave and the dining room is so cozy, yet bustling. Next time (because it’s been decided that there will be a next time!), we’ll dine indoors.
<b><u>GONDOLA….SHOULD WE, SHOULDN’T WE?</u></b>
So, this is our last night in Venice and we haven’t yet had our gondola ride. During all the planning, the <b>gondola ride was at the top of the list</b>…that was one of our absolute “musts”…especially since we were here on our 10 yr anniversary and it was our first time to Venice.
I was very turned off by the gondolas on the first day seeing hordes of them filled to the brim with people. Not only were the gondolas packed, but the small canals were packed with gondolas. Alluring? NOT! Then there were the many people (me included) hanging over the bridges gawking snapping photos like the paparazzi. How romantic is that? I really hate to admit it, but it did have a very “Disneylandesque” appeal to it. I hate to say that since I found myself getting sensitive about it when it was discussed this way on these boards. Now that I’m here, I understand. It seemed so touristy, which I'm not against, since we're tourists but mostly...so unromantic.
I ask DH what he thinks. He feels the same way. I’m grappling with…how can we go to Venice on our anniversary and not do the gondola? We decide to sit on this one for awhile.
I hate goodbyes. We head towards St. Mark’s to say goodbye. I’m feeling a bit emotional tonight knowing that our time in Venice is coming to an end. From day one we were giddy and here, on day 4, we’re still giddy. Venice cast her magical spell over us (thank goodness!). I’m more happy that DH loves her as much as I do. I wasn’t sure in the beginning. If I had reservations, he usually has more.
St. Mark’s was just like we love it….uncrowded, music playing, no pigeons. Ahhhh…we swoon to a few songs. Another “must” I had on my list was Caffe’ Florian (next time..we’ll go inside and have a very expensive cup of tea. I remember that a Fodorite had described the interior like it as a “jewelry box”). Being located on the opposite side of the square, it had its own orchestra which we could barely hear. Every night we found ourselves on the opposite side where there were 2 orchestras “battling” back and forth. Goodbye St. Marks. It was a sad goodbye.
DH asks me….Gondola? The jury is still out, so off we go to the swanky Centrale Lounge. http://www.centrale-lounge.com/en/index.htm (another on my list). It was more NYC than Venetian, but was a hip place with it all: great music, art, vibe and ambiance. I was REALLY craving a Dirty Grey Goose Martini, but the vodka selection was a bit “low shelf”. So…”when in Rome”….we enjoyed a Lo Spritz (me) and Limoncello (DH). It was my last lo spritz in Venice. A night of “lasts”. We recap our amazing time here in Venice over a nightcap.
It’s nearing midnight and now or never for the gondola. We start our walk towards the gondola “station” located on the small canal Orseolo behind our inn. There are no hordes, no crowd. Just 2 gondoliers bundled up and a fleet of empty gondolas bobbing up and down. We decide to go for it!
<b><u>GONDOLA….IT’S A GO!</u></b>
DH talks price w/ the gondolier. The price was more than we expected since we'd planned on 80E. It was 120E this time of night. We tried to negotiate, but it was what it was. What the heck....we did it. Our gondolier Roberto was fabulous. He took us down small canals, on the Grand Canal (with no other boat/gondola in sight). He told us stories, gave us history, etc. I teased him and asked what he was going to sing. He laughed. A few moments later he softly sang. It was absolutely perfect and utterly romantic. Taking the ride late at night with not another soul on the water was heavenly.
I can't imagine it any other way. It was peacefully romantic gliding down back canals with just the sound of the oar skimming the glassy water. So cliche’….but truly a memory to last a lifetime. It seemed like we were the only gondola on the water and….not a set of mickey mouse ears in sight!
(note: we felt that maybe we were ripped off, so we checked with our hotel the next day and they confirmed that late at night, the price 120E was fair)
We are on cloud nine and float back to our inn.
<b>Next…. Saying goodbye to Venice and hello to Florence!

</b>
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 06:30 AM
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Oooops! The last 2 entries should read:

<b>Day #4 October 14, 2007 Sunday.</b>

Sorry...
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 07:17 AM
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<b>VENICE: PART 8:

DAY 5 (October 15, 2007...Monday)
…. Saying goodbye to Venice and hello to Florence!

<u>GOOD MORNING VENICE</u></b>
We wake fairly early and begin packing. I didn’t have a very sound sleep the night before knowing we’re leaving Venice today. Downstairs we go for our last breakfast at LO. We’re greeted by the smiling faces of Francesco and Bruno. We heard through the grapevine that Francesco is leaving for California within the next couple of months to work at the Marriott. We talk to him about it. A past guest was an executive with Marriott and offered Francesco a managerial job on the spot. That’s no surprise…this crew is exemplary. Geez, I’m going to miss this place. I find out that GiGi (he’s my fave of the bunch and Francesco is a close second) won’t be in today. I’m sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye. I make a mental note to email him when I get back home to thank him for his service and for our great talks.

We find a table and begin the food fest. The couple next to us is talking to another about how they just arrived last night (I think to myself….stop being so smug!). I’m very sad to leave. DH tries to start a conversation, I just want to sit quietly. Breakfast doesn’t taste as good as it did on the first few days….naturally, because it’s our last. I’m very sad. I get LO’s journal from the common room and begin composing my entry about our stay. Of course (as you can tell from this l-o-n-g report), it’s not the shortest entry in the book.

We’re all packed and are ready to check out. Bruno gives us a very detailed and short cut to the vaporetto station. We’re heading to the train station as we have 11:35 reservations to Florence. We hug Barbara, Francesco and Bruno. It was truly like saying bye to family. I’m fighting back tears. Last words…“See you soon”. After we get outside the door, DH gives me a big hug. Tears stream down my face. I ask DH, “Can we come back to LO”. “Absolutely”, he says.

We easily and quickly arrive at the Rialto vaporetto station. This shortcut through narrowed pssageways was the way to go…we bypass people and bridges. We load onto the vaporetto and glide down the Grand Canal for the last time. I’m fighting back tears once again. I feel like everyone is looking at me. They all know….we’re leaving.

Our Venice Photos: http://tinyurl.com/2gtoog

Our Food and Drink Photos (for the entire trip): http://flickr.com/photos/debandstan/...7603706202008/
(check out our Acqua Pazza Fish dish all beautifully presented and the produce/seafood from the famous Rialto Market)

<b><u>RECAP</u></b>

<b><u>Great Venice planning tool websites:</u></b>

“200 things to do in Venice”: http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/venice/re_todo.htm

“Map of where hotels, restaurants, etc. are located in Venice” http://www.veniceexplorer.net/

<b><u>Glad we did:</u></b>
*made advance train reservations from Venice to Florence.
*bought our 3 day vaporetto pass at the airport info counter (you validate the pass at the machine at the vaporetto stand on your <u>first</u> ride).
*wake up early to see Venice come to life.
*gondola ride...late at night

<b><u>Wish we did (on the list for next trip):</u></b>

*La Zucca Ristorante (a must!)
*Spend more time eating <i>cicchetti</i> (Venetian tapas) at the <i>bacaros</i> (wine bars). Especially <i>Bancogiro and Naranzaria.</i>
*Islands: Torcello, Burano
*Musical Performance (this was one of our “musts’, but we never got the chance!)
*San Giorgio Maggiore (views at the top of the tower)
*Scuola di San Rocco
*Explore the Ghetto and Lido
*St. Mark’s Basilica
*Make dinner reservations later than 7pm
*Caffe’ Florian
*Drinks on the rooftop of Hotel Danieli
*lunch at Osteria alla Botte

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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 07:37 AM
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adventureseeker, I'm almost crying with you! What a lovely description. I hope the rest of your trip was as enjoyable for you as Venice. Guess I'll just keep reading to find out
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 08:03 AM
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LCBoniti,

Me too...pass the tissues.

Just wait until we say goodbye to Vernazza, Cinque Terre...I was a waterworks!
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 08:15 AM
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Another note:

For those of you looking for Venetian themed books for little tykes:

&quot;This is Venice&quot; classic book series by M. Sasek (we're fans and our son has a collection of these from all over...ie. &quot;This is New York&quot;, etc.)

&quot;Gaspard on Vacation&quot; GREAT series by Anne Gutman/Georg Hallensleben. This one outlines Gaspard's misadventures in Venice.

&quot;Guido's Gondola&quot; by Renee Riva and Steve Bjorkman. Excellent story of Guido the gondolier mouse.
I bought this for our son at the Ca' Rezzonico bookstore in EUROS. I came home and it was on amazon.com! Rats!

I highly recommend all the above.
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 08:26 AM
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My insides got all quivery when you described leaving, I had the same feeling and yes, I was teary too.

We have been twice and still have not done a gondola ride, so maybe third time will be it...
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 08:53 AM
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