Nine Days in Venice: A Report

Mar 25th, 2001, 08:11 AM
  #1  
Judy
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Nine Days in Venice: A Report

First, thank you, Paulo. You inspired me to go when I was worried that Venice would be too crowded, expensive, etc., to be worth the trouble. And getting into and around Venice wasn't even much trouble because of you and the other Fodorites who so generously shared their knowledge and experience. Now, I am very pleased to be able to share with you the following.
First, as Elaine recommended, we used the Streetwise Venice map; we expected to, and did, get lost anyway, but it helped. Second, we got on a couple of vaporetti going in the wrong direction(one day we ended up in Lido when we wanted to go to Torcello); after this, if we had any doubt,we asked the boatman as we were stepping on. We got a 7-day vaporetto pass; it was liberating(remember to stamp a 24-hour or 3-day pass(strangely, 7-day passes don't have to be stamped)). We rode the #1 to the train station, got off, and got on the #1 going back up the Grand Canal. We recommend doing this often, preferably with a picture guide to the palazzos such as Eyewitness(but try to avoid going toward the train station when the day-trippers are leaving (around 5 pm)).
The March weather was cold for my daughter, but ideal for me because I loved the cool, gray mists, and even the couple of rainy days we had, and especially the fact that there were no lines. As Paulo recommended, we went to mass at the Basilica and enjoyed it thoroughly but it was not necessary for avoiding a wait. On Saturday, masses continued during the morning, and they would not admit the public in to see the Pala d'Oro or the Treasury until 2:30pm. No lines for the Ducal Palace.
Re hotels: We were able to book 2 nights at the 5-star Palazzo Dei Dogi at their winter special rates of IL300,000, including buffet breakfast. We were given a first floor room, but asked for, and received, a better one on the second floor -- not the piano nobile but a world of difference. I recommend this hotel, but note that it is far from the center (Madonna dell'Orto), and while the hotel provides a boat to take patrons to San Marco, it runs only every 90 minutes and you have to get back by yourself. While we had 9 days, and wanted to explore the Cannaregio anyway, it may not suit those with limited time. We ate dinner at a wonderful restaurant: La Colombina Enoteca, Cannaregio 1828, tel: 041 2750622, closed Sunday and Monday for lunch. It has a limited, but delicious and reasonably priced menu. In the interest of full disclosure, however, we had some tense moments in the beginning because, as the very amiable waiter informed us, the owner was in a bad mood since he was having a fight with his wife, who happpened to be the cook. Nonetheless, it was perhaps the best meal we had in Venice.
Have to go now. More later.
Judy
 
Mar 25th, 2001, 11:32 AM
  #2  
Gina
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Nine days in Venice? Judy, you should see the extremely bright shade of green I've just turned. It sounds like you had a wonderful time--I'm dying to hear more!
 
Mar 25th, 2001, 11:46 AM
  #3  
elaine
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Hi Judy
Welcome back. I hope to go back to Venice myself this fall, so I'm also eager to hear more details.
 
Mar 26th, 2001, 01:09 PM
  #4  
Judy
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Gina, Elaine, and other readers:
What's the best way to continue my report, within this post or by beginnning a new post?
Judy
 
Mar 26th, 2001, 01:29 PM
  #5  
sandi
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Just "post a reply" and continue on. Remember that you need to limit the size of each post to about a paragraph.
 
Mar 27th, 2001, 08:44 AM
  #6  
Judy
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OK. A few people have emailed me with questions about Palazzo Dei Dogi, so I'll answer here. I believe the beautiful room on their web site is a very expensive room on the piano nobile. We were not offered that room, nor did we expect it at the rates we were paying. The first room offered us was a small room on the first floor facing a small, dreary canal. We requested and, after some quibbling, got a larger room on the second floor facing a garden, a much better view. Very quiet. Nice bathroom. Large buffet breakfast. Staff uneven; but a very nice fellow at the desk recommended La Columbina -- a great find. The hotel is only a couple of years old, and they are still working on certain parts of it(e.g., a larger garden, with a couple of charming grottos), but the work is not intrusive. I would stay there again. It has the feel of a grand private home. Note that if you are moving to another hotel (after 2 days we moved to the Metropole), their private boat (mentioned above) will not take your luggage(they claim that "the authorities" won't allow it). We had planned to take their 6 pm boat to San Marco with our luggage and then make our way to the Metropole. We were exhausted (I think this was the day we took the wrong vaporetti) and ended up taking a water taxi instead (costly, but we paid a little extra and took a slow ride up the Grand Canal and the Lagoon to the Metropole and the ride was lovely). The hotel is ideally situated for exploring the Canareggio. We especially enjoyed the Ponte dei Mori and the Palazzo del Cammello (sp?). We recommend the synagogue tour of the Ghetto, especially because(as the tour guide pointed out) the synagogues were set up in existing apartment buildings and you would not recognize them as synagogues unless you knew that they all have five windows, symbolizing the 5 books of the Torah. We ate a late, small lunch at the unassuming Antica Mola, on the outskirts of the Ghetto. This was my first meal in Venice and, determined to "eat Venetian", I ordered the seppie in nero; that evening, at Osteria Bentigodi (recommended on this site and by Fred Plotkin), I ordered the anitipasti, also containing Venetian specialties. In this way,I found out that I don't like a lot of Venetian specialties. Consequently, I did not enjoy these restaurants, but this should not reflect at all on the restaurants, but rather on my unsophisticated palate and my not knowing (early in the trip) how to order(well, I admit I'm a bit miffed at the Bentigodi for not having on its menu
salame di cioccolato, the dessert that FP raves about).The Strada Nuova is nice in that it has real shops (as opposed to tourist shops). The Palazzo dei Dogi is also well situated for trips to Murano, Burano, and Torcello(from the Fondamente Nuove -- although at San Zaccharia I saw signs for these islands, too (?)). We took the "free trip" offered at the hotel to Murano, but there were ony two other people on the boat so that we were very conspicuous when we landed at the factory and didn't go in, but headed instead for the town center. We felt especially graceless when the factory owner(unsolicited) gave us directions lest we lose our way. If you do this, make sure the boat is crowded enough so that you can disappear unseen. More later.
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 12:02 PM
  #7  
Judy
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Before I forget, do get(and read) the little booklet hotels provide telling you what events are going on in Venice. I didn't read it until the night before we left(how dumb is that!) and so found out too late that beginning March 18 (and not advertised) was a Canaletto exhibition on S. Giorgio Maggiore (take the #82 vaporetto from San Zaccharia).
The books we brought with us were J.G.Links, "Venice for Pleasure"("JG"), Littlewood, "A Literary Companion to Venice"("LC"), and Fodor's "Venice" and parts of other guide books(Plotkin, Gustafsen, Steves). Thus, e.g., we found out (from LC) that a lying-in hospital and the orphanage where Vivaldi worked, and others like it, were founded because Venetian fishermen found so many dead babies in their nets; there is a plaque dated 1548 in Calle della Pieta'(off the Riva degli Schiavoni) invoking God's anger against those who left their children there without need. Venice secured a papal bull granting pardons to anyone who visited these children, thus allowing parents to visit their children without giving themselves away. But I digress.
We left Palazzo dei Dogi in some splendor (because the hotel's boat would not take our luggage) by water taxi(IL130,000) to the Metropole, where we stayed 3 nights. Exhausted, we were grateful for the hotel's lavish buffet dinner(IL62,000)(open to outsiders). We were upgraded to a room facing the Lagoon, with a view of the Salute. Lovely but noisy(bring earplugs). On these days, we visited St. Mark's Basilica(used Rick Steves' guide for our visit to San Marco and the Basilica), the Ducal Palace(the audio tour was good in the beginning when it explained the wonderful columns, but toward the end was very confusing -- use another guide), the Correr Museum(by the way, Ca' Rezzonico is closed for renovation and some of its wonderful frescoes are there temporarily ), and other sights in San Marco and Castello. We especially recommend S. Maria dei Miracoli and the Dalmatian School of Saint Giorgio and Saint Trifone(don't miss this or you will miss some wonderful Carpaccios). Also the Palazzo Querini Stampalia(there is one wonderful Bellini and lots of paintings of 18c Venetian life). Re restaurants, took the word of the concierge at Hotel Flora and had dinner at "I coristi" -- skip this restaurant. Also had dinner at Fred Plotkin's "if I could eat anywhere in Venice" Ristorante da Ivo, San Marco 1809 Ramo dei Fuseri, 041/5285004 (outrageously expensive but great food and service) and it serves until midnight, useful for having dinner after a concert. Went to two concerts: the concert that features singers purportedly singing opera was pretty bad (the soprano was OK, though she wasn't quite up to the coloratura passages; the baritone reminded me of men who talk through a song because they can't sing but rely on their acting, except this guy couldn't act either; all of the performers wore cheap,ill-fitting costumes and wigs, and the instrumentalists looked unhappy); the instrumental concert(Vivaldi and Bach) in the "Chiesa di Vivaldi" featuring the 3 Le Putte("girls") was enjoyable.
The rest of the trip (4 nights) we stayed at the charming Locanda San Barnaba in Dorsoduro. We loved this neighborhood. Ate well and comparatively cheaply at the nearby L'Incontro, Campo Santa Margherita,3062A,041/5222404.
Don't miss the Accademia (use JG's walking tour so that you don't waste time and energy, but get right to the point IMO -- the Carpaccios ), and the Peggy Guggenheim (the audio tour was good and the cafe serves a good lunch).
I should mention another restaurant we liked(in Santa Croce), and that is La Zucca (take the #1 to S. Stae and walk straight down to the 5th street light and turn right; it's next to the Ponte del Meglio).
We came to Venice intending to take daytrips by train to Padua, Treviso, perhaps Verona, but were enjoying Venice so much we couldn't leave.
I would be pleased to answer any questions.
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 01:43 PM
  #8  
Beth H
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Judy,

Could you please describe the Locanda San Barnaba a bit more? I have reservatations there in June, which I made after reading a positive article about it in the NYTimes. I have not seen a traveller's description of it yet on this board, however. Thanks, and thank you for your detailed travel report.
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 09:06 PM
  #9  
Tracy
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Thanks Judy for this great report! We are going to Venice for the first time this summer and are trying to absorb as much info as we can!
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 09:24 PM
  #10  
Chris
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Great report... We are staying at the Giorgione in the Cannaregio, in a few weeks. Did you find this area acceptable? Also do you know of The Hotel Boston in San Marco area? No one on this message board seems to have stayed there and I am leary. Thanks for any response.
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 11:45 PM
  #11  
sylvia
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Unless things have changed since May last year you do have to stamp the 7 day pass. There's a hefty fine if you are found not to have done it.
 
Mar 30th, 2001, 07:01 AM
  #12  
Judy
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Beth, have no fear; you will be delighted with the Locanda San Barnaba. Take the #1 to Ca' Rezzonico and walk straight off the vaporetto about 3/4 block and you will see the "Hotel San Barnaba" on your left-- that's it, so don't look for the "Locanda". You may take a water taxi right up to their door if it hasn't been raining -- call first. What kind of room were you able to get? We got the last room available in the lowest category and it was still OK. As you know, this hotel is newly renovated. The renovation is tasteful, and the bathrooms are modern. After the NY Times article, they installed hair dryers . The buffet breakfast is not lavish, but it's OK. The people who run the hotel are very nice. Enjoy!
Chris, the Hotel Giorgione is in a more central location in Canareggio than is the Palazzo dei Dogi(where we stayed). Therefore, you have a great(not merely acceptable) neighborhood AND easy access. I know some people with good taste who can afford to stay anywhere, yet return to the Giorgione. Sorry, I don't kow anything about the Hotel Boston.
Sylvia, I couldn't believe it either, so I asked the man in the ticket booth(on Burano) twice - sicuro? Sicuro! Nonetheless, one should always ask.

Tracy, Chris, Beth, have a wonderful time.
Judy
 
Mar 30th, 2001, 07:40 AM
  #13  
Beth
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Judy -- it's great to have a confirmation that the San Barnaba is nice. We're actually splurging for a suite, as it was about the same price as single rooms at places like the Giorgione. Thanks again for your input!
 

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