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Perfect gondola ride and dinner in Venice? But on a budget.

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We will be in Venice on my wife's 55th birthday while also celebrating our 30th anniversary (October 25th) . It will be the last night of only a week in Italy so I'd like to make it 'the best'. We are on a limited budget so sharing a gondola is acceptable. But my question is how do I 'guarantee' the perfect time and gondola ride? Any specific place to pick up a gondola? Sunset sounds like a great time to go with the changing lights and such, but I also don't want to miss out on the beauty of it all by cruising canals in the dark. Plus I'm an amateur photographer so I'll be clicking away as much as possible.

Also, how about some dinner ideas. Any place to have an 'unforgetable' dinner? She likes 'basic' pasta dishes and no fish, but I'm a foodee and so would love a place that caters to us both ("feed me sto affamata"). Price? $100 to $200 dollars?

Any other suggestions are more than welcomed. We are only in Venice from Friday noon to Saturday noon. Yes that is way too little time but we plan to enjoy what we can just by getting lost. We are staying in Venice almost directly across from the Guggenheim. So with that in mind.... please help me plan the perfect 24 hours.

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