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bfrac Nov 17th, 2007 08:58 AM

Our delayed trip to Venice, bfrac and Giacomo finally make it

This story started almost a year ago upon returning from our first trip to Italy. Last year we went to Venice, Florence (Fiesole), Umbria, and Rome. Since then I have found Fodor’s forums and have lived vicariously through others’ travels. Actually, I have devoured many books, and investigated hotels and agriturismos, to be prepared and pre-plan the next trip. I can’t thank all of you enough for your valuable advice and the time you take to post.

So, this past July when Giacomo mentioned he might like to go to Maine for our 24th anniversary in September; I was well prepared to make my presentation for Venice. (All along we had both agreed that we would return to Italy for another two weeks in the fall of 2008 so he is not adverse to going at all). I faithfully investigated prices of nice B & Bs in Maine and had a cost comparison. Also, I had the ace in the hole of AmEx points for the cost of one free ticket to Venice. I put the presentation forth and he of course jumped at the idea of going to Venice for a week to devote ourselves entirely to La Serenissima and truly enjoy all she has to offer. And, also we thought that then in fall 2008 we would be able to devote our time to other unexplored places and not have to “do” Venice again.

It was a plan. Tickets booked, hotel confirmed (I already knew where we were going to stay), and I threw myself into restaurant research, etc. We were to depart PHL on 18 September and return on 26 September.

The middle of the night on 3 September, Giacomo awakens me and says we must go to the ER, something is terribly wrong. Off we go. It is determined he has a kidney stone and is sent home with pain killers and instructions to see an urologist the next day. All goes well, crisis passes, literally, and dr. says not to worry he is good to go. Plan to follow up after trip. Uh huh.

The next Saturday, 8 September we have a repeat trip to the ER with him being admitted and surgery to follow the next week. At this point I won’t continue with the details, the squeamish will bail out and anyone who has been through kidney stones will have a good idea of all that comes next. Now during this time the doctors are assuring us that we will still be able to make our trip but four days before departure we resign ourselves to the fact that it won’t be happening and the doctors concur.

I begin the process of canceling reservations and the nerve wracking notification of the trip insurance company. Some of you may remember my nervous post about that but thankfully after sending in reams of documentation from the doctors that story had a happy ending.

28 September Giacomo is given the all clear to travel and over the weekend I work on flight details and coordinate with hotel availability and come up with something that will work and in four weeks we will be taking off for Venice, finally…

bfrac Nov 18th, 2007 09:46 AM

Finally, departure day arrives and we are as excited as kids at Christmas. We head off to the airport and are on our way via Frankfurt with a 9:50 am arrival time in Venice. Neither one of us sleep on the flight over and we both get a short nap from Frankfurt to Venice, but we hit the ground and are ready to roll. Ha! The baggage handlers have another plan though. The baggage handlers for our flight (Lufthansa) go on strike at 10:00 am for two hours. Oh to be so close. We wait, and wait, and wait some more. Finally someone finds out what is going on and spreads the word that it is a two hour strike and we will have to wait it out. Other flights arrive and those lucky folks claim their baggage and are off to Venice. Boy I hope they save us some caffe and vino. I pass the time chatting with a lovely lady from NY and Giacomo passes the time talking to several men debating strikes and getting each others opinion on the situation.

Promptly at 12:05 the first bag starts it circuit around the carousel and we are all like vultures ready to grab and run.

I have pre-booked our 7-day vaporetto passes and send Giacomo to pick up the tickets while I buy our tickets for the ATVO bus. All goes well and we are at Piazzale Roma in 20 minutes.

Our hotel, Palazzo Odoni, on Fondamenta Minotto, is only about a five minute walk and one bridge away. I found it through internet research because we really liked this neighborhood last year and it looked so charming on the website. It also had favorable reviews on tripadvisor.

I was not disappointed. You ring a bell on double wooden doors and are buzzed into the most charming courtyard. I will say that it has a flight of stairs up to the entrance door and then another flight up to the main floor which was not a problem for us but might be for some folks. Our room was ready and we were able to settle in right away. For me, the bathroom was the best feature. It was all marble with a Jacuzzi tub, separate glass shower, heated towel rack, and all the rest of the usual stuff. The lighting was fantastic.

Giacomo is now starving and we head off to his first desire which is for pizza at the Accademia bridge. I think it is just okay pizza but do enjoy the location.

Next, we head off in the direction of Santa Maria della Salute. We take our time just wandering and absorbing Venice. It is closed when we get there so I start taking exterior shots and then we decide to try to find the squero. We end up just walking along the zattere and soaking in the sunshine but lack of sleep is beginning to take its toll. We circle back around to Salute which is now open but my mind receives a message from my body telling me I won’t make it up those steps and I’m about to keel over if I don’t get some rest. Thankfully, we are right in front of the vaporetto stop and we stumble aboard and as this is our lucky day it is the right one. We only go as far as San Toma because it is quicker to get off here and walk back to the hotel.

I think I pass out for two hours and we feel like we’re ready to go again. Alberto at the front desk recommends Ristoteca Oniga in Campo San Barnaba. Once again we take our time and savour the sights and sounds as we go – dogs barking and playing in the campos, children running and playing, adults enjoying their wine and socializing. We stop and admire the fish and seafood on the boat in the canal which I think is located to the left as we exited Campo San Margherita. Ristoteca Oniga is very good. We enjoyed a half carafe of the house red, shared antipasto of assorted seafood, fegato (liver) for Giacomo, branzino for me, the biggest serving of tiramisu I have ever seen, and two caffe each for €80.50. A very nice beginning to a week filled with promise.

Tomorrow, explore Cannaregio and the quest of the sisterhood of the traveling purse.

bfrac Nov 18th, 2007 03:56 PM

Tuesday we start off at a leisurely pace, but first I make a stop at the bancomat I had used last year and it won’t cooperate, it says my card is illegible. Okay, not a problem we’ll try another one. I had a problem last year in Todi where not a single machine in the town would accept my card and was the cause of much panic and angst. When I finally went back to the town we were staying in it worked to my great relief but only after several hours of anxiety. So, back to Venice; I go on to another bank across from Ferrovia, Bank of Siena, and it quite happily takes my card and gives me money.

We again cross the Grand Canal and go in the direction of Ponte Guglie to explore up the Fondamenta de Cannaregio, the ghetto, etc. Back down to the ponte and continue on looking in shops and keeping an eye out for pasticceria Maria di Boscolo. Found it. Nice break for a caffe and a sweet.

Along the way this morning a nice leather shop catches my eye and I go in because the “sisterhood” needs a new purse. Four of us ladies that like to travel share a nifty little wallet purse that is quite well traveled and has more air miles than any one of us. The last trip it went to London and when it got home the caretaker lost it when she unpacked. It definitely made the return trip but is lost in her own home, likely never to be seen again. Mission easily accomplished in the lovely store which is Giudi Shop.

Time for lunch and Giacomo has picked a la Vecia Cavana on Rio Tera SS.Apostoli. We were warmly welcomed. Giacomo ordered the veggie antipasti and the waiter took him along to pick out what he would like. I had smoked salmon which was drizzled with olive oil and lemon, yummy. For my secondo, I decided to have another antipasti, the baccala mantecato with polenta. Giacomo had spaghetti con vongole and they were the tiniest little clams, so nice. Lunch with drinks €60.

Next stop the church of Santa Maria Miracoli. It is just breathtaking inside and out. More meandering until we end up at Campo Santa Maria Formosa. By this time our feet are tiring, and the rest of us too, so we turn towards Rialto and the vaporetto to San Toma. One more mission for the day though. We must find Vizio Virtu the chocolate shop we stumbled upon last year which we know is in the vicinity of Campo San Toma. This is chocolate heaven for those of us who are worshipers.

Back to Palazzo Odoni for a rest and dinner reservations for later in the evening. Call us corny but we wanted to go to Cantina Caneletto because we had seen Samantha Brown’s show when she went there. The big attraction for me was they said you could have any wine you wanted by the glass and who am I to miss that kind of opportunity. Before I left home I tried to get directions from the internet but couldn’t get them from their website because it was under construction, so when I called to reserve for dinner I asked for directions and they made sense to me but for the life of me I could not find that restaurant. Let me interject here that I have been taking lessons and speak passable Italian for restaurants and directions. I hate to admit defeat because I am usually very good with maps and directions but this one beat me. We never did find it. If anyone can clue me in it would be appreciated. We ended up just stopping into a place and had a light meal which was fine after the nice lunch earlier.

A late night stroll through Piazza San Marco and a very nice vaporetto ride from there along Zattere and Guidecca and all the way around to P. Roma. This was something we had not seen before and especially enjoyed the night and lights.

I forgot to mention that at night the courtyard at Palazzo Odoni is candlelit and oh so romantic – just lends more to the magic of Venice.

Tomorrow – Burano, a lasting memory, and more conversing in Italian.

Holly_uncasdewar Nov 18th, 2007 06:44 PM

Really enjoying this. More, please.

bfrac Nov 19th, 2007 06:47 AM

Thanks, Holly I appreciate it. I'll work on some more this afternoon.

SeaUrchin Nov 19th, 2007 08:45 AM

One time I had the best meal at a restaurant in Venice and I have never been able to find it again! It is so frustrating but I will just have to live with the memory. Sorry you don't even get your memory! But you have so many others from this trip. I am really enjoying this report, more please.

bfrac Nov 19th, 2007 09:43 AM

Thank you SeaUrchin,there are memorable meals to come in this story! I think you get the picture that dining is an important part of our vacations. More soon.

bfrac Nov 19th, 2007 01:14 PM

Wednesday dawns another bright and sunny day and we have planned to go to Burano. I am very excited because we didn’t make it last year and with such a beautiful day I can capture the colors of Burano in pictures.

This morning we walk up to P. Roma and take the DM to Murano and then the LN (I believe) to Burano. We get off at the first stop on Murano and find out where to go for the vaporetto to Burano and meet and talk with some very nice ladies from Atlanta and Chicago. I’m not sure and maybe someone can clarify but I think you can stay on the DM to the second stop on Murano and it will be the right one for Burano. We actually didn’t stop for shopping on our walk, only because we knew we were coming back another day.

Arrive Burano and I am as charmed as I expected to be. The public park at the landing has someone’s laundry hanging and I have to stop and take a picture. We scurry through the shops (booths) and it seems that the crowd from the boat has disappeared, maybe they were all drawn into those shops. We loved that we were alone and the small village feeling pervaded – shoes on the windowsills, shirts and jackets on hangers drying in the sun, and one old nonno’s shorts that had been mended and patched. Every window also had pots of brightly colored cyclamen. It was so endearing to me. And quiet, very quiet.

Since it is now nearly lunch time we begin our search for Al Gatto Nero which isn’t hard to find. I know, I know, you are thinking we are Samantha Brown groupies, but we’re not. We live near the Chesapeake Bay and meet lots of world travelers/sailors and each one that has been to Venice/Burano have said we must try it. Plus, we’re cat people.

We arrive just before 12:00 and there are a few locals hanging out and one man says to the waiter to “take care of the tourists” and I grin and answer in Italian, which is the start of a fun time. We order the antipasti sampler without octopus and prefer fish and shellfish. Wow. It just kept coming, four plates in all – snapper done in the baccala mancato style, smoked swordfish, razor clams, scallops, prawns, mussels, baby clams, polenta with baby shrimp. And we had also ordered a pasta with crab for two, of course bottled water and a half carafe of the local white wine, caffe, and I honestly can’t remember if we had dessert or not. Total for lunch was €79. We were not the only tourists, there were a young Italian couple in love, French family of 5, two British ladies, and several locals including a middle aged woman with her father.

More walking is in order and we wander, take photos, until we reach the square and the lace museum. This is on my “list” of things to do and I’m glad it is open. It is well worth the time to visit and the displays are very nice and well labeled. When we reach the end one lone lady arrives and turns her chair and footrest toward the window on the square and prepares for her afternoon of lacemaking. Oh I wonder if she will let me sit and watch her for a while? I politely ask in Italian if I may and she smiles and invites me to join her. She shows me what she is working on and a bit of how to do it and tells us (Giacomo has now joined us) how long she has been working on this small piece – four months. I am transported back to when I was a little girl and sat with my grandmother while she quilted at her big frame and I am touched deeply by the old memory and now this new one. Reluctantly we must go but as I sit here at my computer I can still feel the warmth of that room, and smell the comforting scent of an old building, and see that dear woman’s arthritic hands creating a beautiful piece of lace.

We decide to make our way back toward the vaporetto but can’t resist a lovely store named Emilia and purchase a few treasures.

I forgot to mention earlier that today is strike day for the vaporetti and when we arrive back at Murano we find that it is now the DMs turn to be on strike and we have to go back via Fondamenta Nova. A funny thing happened on the ride to F. Nova. I went inside to sit down and keep warm and the people sitting next to me were discussing how to get to where they wanted to go (in Italian) so I leaned over and pointed on their map and gave directions in my limited language and they promptly engaged me in conversation. Oops, I held my own for the most part, but it was fun and I’m gaining confidence. Today almost all interaction (except for with Giacomo) has been in Italian.

Sorry, this is getting so long. Dinner tonight is at Vini da Gigio. It is recommended on this forum by Tim and Liz, Franco, and rialtogrl, and the book Chow Venice so I’m looking forward to it. We are so very pleased with our selections: scallops and baccala for starters, arugula stuffed ravioli in a cheese sauce and osso buco, grilled veggies, giuanduia chocolate dessert, torte, caffe, and an excellent Amarone. Total €147. A wonderful evening.
We waddle back to the vaporetto and I notice a man ahead of us with a huge bouquet of flowers of lilies, tulips, etc. Giacomo and I have been in the business so we notice these things, and I comment to him how lovely it is. The gentleman must have overheard and turns around and extracts three tulips and gives them to me. I am astonished and thank him profusely. Only in Italy can a man have the confidence and gentlemanliness to give another Italian man’s wife flowers right in front of him. Another memory to always bring a smile…

Tomorrow – our first journey by train and do you think we bought too much grappa?

bfrac Nov 21st, 2007 11:18 AM

Another beautiful day dawns and we decide we better do our trip to Bassano del
Grappa. We picked Bassano because of recommendations on this forum (Girlspytravel for one) and other nice things I had read about the town. I had wanted to visit some of the Palladio villas but that will have to wait until next time and I will be happy with seeing the Ponte degli Alpini. First a stop at the bancomat which worked for us the other day and it rejected my card this time. Today’s problem “you have exceeded your credit limit for the day.” No, not possible, it hasn’t been used since day before yesterday. Panic is beginning to creep in. We try again, same result. I remain outwardly calm so Giacomo doesn’t go into a state.

We go buy our train tickets anyway since we’re right there before making any decision about the cash situation. I have never done this before so how hard can it be? Buy the tickets and the lady explains how it works and sends us to information desk for details on going to Bassano. The nice lady there explains what I need to know. In the meantime we think we might go tomorrow after we find a bancomat that likes my card. Ah, the nice lady says maybe we shouldn’t go tomorrow because there will be a strike. Hmmm, I see a trend here. We seem to be right on the heels of every strike this week.

Ok we have an hour until the next train. Mad dash back to hotel for info on other bancomats and we are directed down the calle we are on to one in a construction site that is the Bank of Roma. Success! It is our friend the rest of the week.

Back to Santa Lucia and off to Bassano. Arrive Bassano and think, hmmm, again, not what we expected. Where is that quaint little alpine village we expected? We set off in the wake of a tour bus, but of course lose it, and keep following our instincts which eventually lead us to a divine little bakery where we get directions and finally find the river and famous bridge. We spend a few hours wandering around, taking photos, and really enjoying this nice town. Giacomo wants to “sample” so we start up the hill at Poli’s (makes sense, right?) and come back down to Nardini’s. I don’t share in his tastings since I’m not a connoisseur and someone has to find the train station again. Several bottles were purchased and I don’t realize how many until I feel the weight of the bag. I suppose if the luggage goes overweight we don’t need all the clothes we brought with us…

Oh, very important note, the new “purse of the sisterhood” is photographed in Bassano as well so it can begin its new journey in life.

Back in Venice that evening we have reservations at Ristorante al Paradiso (recommended by SusanP). Thank you Susan, we loved it. Signore Giordano was a perfect host and made us feel so welcome. We started with tiny soft crabs and polenta, it was just heavenly. Having grown up on Chesapeake Bay blue crabs I’m not easily impressed by crabs in other parts of the world, but now I am a convert. Next we shared the risotto with shrimp, champagne, and grapefruit, and for dessert I had the fruit panna cotta and didn’t come up for air to see what Giacomo had. The wine was a new one which Signore Giordano recommended – Senibus Roos from Friuli – we had never heard of it but it was excellent and of course, water and caffe for a total of €139.

Still more to come!

bfrac Nov 27th, 2007 11:18 AM

Friday we head over to the Coop Supermercato behind the DM vaporetto (P. Roma) to restock on water and nice candies for gifts to take home. I mention this so others may take advantage of buying water here, it is € .39 for the large bottles that you pay € 1.90 elsewhere.

Today we decide to go to Murano and explore some more. The weather is glorious and it is so enjoyable to be on the water and wander around the island. One store takes us in the back and we spend some time watching a three man team making a vase. They work as one and it is like a beautiful dance. We make some nice purchases for Christmas gifts and have lunch at the Trattoria al Corallo. The place is packed and we are seated in the back room. Their special today is baccala in a red sauce with soft polenta which Giacomo’s nona used to make and he has never had since. We share that and linguine with the baby clams and the usual water and half carafe for €40. It is divine. We linger quite a while and people watch. When the room was cleared except for us the waiter joined us and started to tell us about himself and that he is taking English language classes to improve his knowledge and he thanked us for attempting to speak with him in Italian. We had a very pleasant visit with him.

Back in Venice we end up back in Piazza San Marco and Giacomo somehow talks me into going up the campanile. I am not fond of elevators, especially small ones but the view was so worth it. Venice looks so different from above. The rooftops just flow one into the other and to see it all laid out before you is incredible, so different than when you are traversing it by foot.

This report has really turned into mainly a restaurant report and I just want to let everyone know that we aren’t really ignoring the historically and artistically important sites but we did most of them last year and this trip is about feeling Venice and finding out if that magic it only alluded to last year is real. For us, it is real and we are completely captivated. For us, it was a time to just be together and enjoy each others company and to celebrate and appreciate how fortunate we are to be married 24 years and look forward to 24 more.

Dinner tonight is at Trattoria Poste Vecie, . It is the oldest restaurant in Venice and has its own cute little bridge to the door and is located directly behind the fish market. We were seated in the first room to the left with a fireplace and it was cozy and nice. Seated next to us were a couple from Ireland on their honeymoon and we had a very good time with them. The meal was fine but not someplace I would return to, mainly because we felt the staff wanted to close up and go home. Why did we think this? Perhaps because one waiter put his coat on and came in and closed the shutters on the windows. So the four of us got the hint and we left at 9:40 pm.

Tomorrow – oh, Plafield you were so right!

annhig Nov 27th, 2007 12:54 PM

Hi, bfrac,

what a find! we're off to venice for a week at easter and I'm always interested in trip reports from people who actually like being there.

I particuarly liked the idea of a side-trip to Bassano. How long did the journey take? how long did you stay there?

your restaurant recommendations are very useful too - thanks.

looking forward to more,

regards, ann

chm Nov 27th, 2007 01:47 PM

Dear bfrac,
What a lovely trip report. Venice is one of my favorite cities and I treasure my memories of visiting. It is such fun to read along and enjoy your trip and remember all of the beauty that is Venice.

Welcome home.

bfrac Nov 28th, 2007 09:14 AM

Ann, Bassano is just a little over an hour from Santa Lucia on the regional train. It is a very easy trip and we probably stayed about four hours or so. I have read some of your posts about going at Easter and I do recommend shopping at the fish and vegetable market. I was dying to be able to buy some of the fish and cook myself. Also, the supermarkets have such nice selections too. Have a wonderful trip in the Spring and please tell us all about it.

chm, thank you for your comments and I'm glad you're enjoying it. I am having fun reliving it as I write it up.

More later.


beelady Nov 28th, 2007 12:28 PM

I'm enjoying your trip report so much. I went to Venice in '04. I took the train from Florence and upon arrival found myself swimming the sea of tourists. I saw San Marco but wasn't able to go into any building as the lines were much too long and I didn't have a lot of time (train schedule). So, I just saw what I could, dined at one of those overpriced restaurants and just managed to get the last train back. The experience was sort of awful actually. I knew on the train ride back to Florence that I didn't give Venice a fair shake what with only allotting half a day. I'm planning on taking my son (hopefully) next summer. I'm allowing several days so that we can get a taste of the city this time. Your report is going into my notes file. Thank you for all of your detail. Looking forward to reading more.

annhig Nov 28th, 2007 02:02 PM

Hi bfrac,

yes of course I'll post a report. I'm really enjoying planning even now- I'm working my way through the walks in Venice for pleasure with a map by my side, trying to tie them up with the various restaurants that you and others have mentioned.

It is such a luxury to be able to think about NOT rushing around trying to see everything in a day. There is no chance of missing out on the markets- we changed our travel date so as to be there on Friday night and able to catch the saturday market. like you, it's something I miss when staying in a hotel room, that I can't go to the market and choose something yummy to cook from the wonderful selections they have. I know it's supposed to be cheaper too, but I never seem to be able to make that one work. just greedy, I think.

keep it coming,

regards, ann

bfrac Nov 28th, 2007 02:25 PM

Ann, here is a link you might find useful when mapping your walks We used the one from where we stayed in Santa Croce to Zattere, it was a huge time saver. I think I took most of my photos at the market, the colors of the vegetables were so beautiful.

Beelady, I'm glad you're going back and giving Venice another try. To stay there will definitely give you a much different experience and a special time with your son. Make sure you find a hotel with individual air conditioning control. It will certainly be crowded in the summer but with good planning and advance reservations you will be able to bypass some of those lines. Have a great time.

annhig Nov 29th, 2007 02:41 AM

Hi, bfrac,

thanks for the link. I'd found the slow travel site when looking for an apartment but not the hidden extras.

luckily we should have plenty of time to explore.

regards, ann

bfrac Nov 30th, 2007 12:49 PM

Saturday we want to start off by going to the Rialto fish and produce market. Wow! What vibrant colors of the produce. I’m just clicking away wondering if there is enough space left on my memory card. I have never seen produce like this in November. One of my favorite NY things to do is to go to the Union Square market and this market really impresses me. Oh, how I wish I could shop and do some cooking. Then the fish and shellfish – they are incredible. We spend a long time here gawking and salivating until I’m so numb from the cold from the ice I have to find a bar for some caffe to warm up.

Next we turn back in the direction of Dorsodoro and go to Salute again since we didn’t get inside on the first day we were here. I love the altar and Giacomo particularly likes the floor. He is a gifted stone worker so this type of work and artistry appeals to him.

I’m still looking for the squeri, which we find both of them this time, the San Trovaso and the Tramontin. Of course, they are closed today but still neat to see. I love this neighborhood, it is so quiet and peaceful walking along the calle. We happen to come upon Taverna San Trovaso so we decide to give it a try for lunch. It has mixed reviews on Fodors and other sites but we thought it was fine. I had one of the lightest gnocchi dishes I have ever tasted. The waiter told me they are house made and one of their specialties.

We just continue going wherever our feet take us and I am looking for the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. It wasn’t easy to find because of a lot of scaffolding hiding signs but we finally get there and it is being renovated and partially covered. But there is always next time…

Tonight we dine at Ristorante Riviera , along the Zattere. Thank you, Plafield for raving about this restaurant in your trip report. Dining here is like you have died and gone to culinary heaven. My antipasto of tuna tartare, fresh mackerel, and two other fresh fish melted in my mouth like butter. Giacomo had the scallops which I now realize he didn’t share. Next Giacomo had a mixed seafood grill and I had the rombo, for dessert we shared a tiramisu, a bottle of water, a bottle of wine, and caffe for €148. The service was outstanding without being the least bit stuffy; we had a good time with the waiter. He seated us in the back corner of the main dining room which is always our favorite place to be to people watch and food watch, and it was just a splendid night.

One last day…

bfrac Feb 29th, 2008 12:36 PM

Friends asked me to finish this report so here it is.

One last day…

Sunday we go to the 11:00 mass at San Giorgio Maggiore. For those of you who know us and have raised eyebrows – yes we did. Giacomo has all those years of catholic upbringing and was almost afraid not to while in Italy and I wanted to hear the Gregorian chanting. Okay, I need input on this – I thought chanting was supposed to be something very special. What we experienced was a high mass with the responses being sung by the 3 priests in attendance. It was the same as any high mass funeral or wedding I have attended in the past. The church itself is beautiful, I loved the clean lines of Palladio; it is so peaceful.

After mass we go up the campanile (another tiny elevator) and this vista is the best of all. I prefer it to the one in San Marco.

We take the vaporetto back and get a quick peek inside San Zaccaria with the lights on. It took my breath away.

The rest of the day we spend walking the calles and savoring our time here.

Dinner tonight is at Antico Martini right next to La Fenice. Their website photos of the inside looked like such a romantic restaurant and it was indeed although we ended up eating in the enclosed courtyard which I liked better because it was cooler. The service was impeccable – waiters in white jackets and politely conversed with me in Italian although their English was much better. Food was excellent. The overall experience was like dining in a NYC restaurant so this may or may not appeal to everyone.

One last vaporetto ride on the Grand Canal and seeing the beautiful chandeliers lit up inside the palazzos. One last walk along our darkened and quiet calle. One last entry into our candlelit courtyard. One last breath of the magic of La Serenissima.

annhig Feb 26th, 2009 12:07 PM

hi bfrac - thansk for finishing this. I love reading about Venice - and just imagining myself back there again.

ref the gregorian chanting and music in churches, we decided to go to the easter sunday mass in san marco, and as usual the music was not up to the surroundings, or what you'd expect to hear in an english cathedral. but that music comes at a price - the regime which the youngsters [some choirs are girls now] and their parents undergo is punishing.

that said, the service was vey moving, even to an atheist like me. certainly better than San giorgio, by the sound of it.

regards, ann

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