Recent Trip to Venice

Old Feb 26th, 2004, 02:51 PM
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Recent Trip to Venice

Here are a few short notes on a trip to Venice about 2 weeks ago:

We stayed in the Dorsoduro seiestre off Campo San Barnaba at Locanda San Barnaba. Highly recommend this charming small hotel. But make sure your group can handle a few flights of stairs as there is no elevator. It is very close to a vapretto stop, but we mostly travelled by foot. It was such a pleasure coming to and from this home base. The Dorsoduro area really is rewarding.

Near the hotel, we ate at Ai 4 Feri, L'Incontro and Casin de Nobili. None of these three is really a "destination" restaurant if you are staying in another part of Venice, but all three are good options if you are in the area. Ai 4 Feri for seafood and pasta in a casual setting at reasonable prices, Casin de Nobili for excellent pizza and other light pasta in a casual setting at reasonable prices and L'Incontro if you have had your fill of seafood and want a meat-focused dinner - slightly more formal than the others and definitely more expensive but that is to be expected as meat is not Venice's specialty. We also had dinner at Corte Sconta in Castello which I highly recommend. It was the most sophisticated dining experience that we had (for you NYers out there, I mean sophisticated in a Union Square Cafe sort of way, while still being casual and comfortable). The menu is heavily focused on seafood. Be sure to make a reservation.

If you are looking for nightlife, Campo Santa Margherita is the place. It tends to be young (defintely under 30 and maybe even closer to 20). But, it provides some action and entertainment if you are so inclined. One place that did have a 30+ crowd was just off Campo S. Margherita called Imagina which is part art gallery, part bar. Of course, it's smokey like all the rest, but that's Europe! At least Imagina has couches and chairs and interesting art work if a pint at Margaret DuChamps (nearby) is not your cup of tea. While in Venice, you must do a spritz taste test and find out whether you have a taste for the Spritz with Campari (bitter), Aperol (sweet) or Select (in the middle). Definitely an acquired taste.

It was pretty cold when we were there so we stopped in many places to warm up with a hot drink. The first of which was Caffe Florian. Yes, it was expensive, yes, it's over the top, but it was a nice welcome on our first day in Venice. We sat inside and the interior is very detailed and evocative of a bygone era. Mostly, I loved stopping in the little places we passed en route from place to place to stand at the counter and throw back an espresso!

OK, so we did plenty more than just eat and drink. We covered every seistre of the city from the ghetto in Cannaregio (highly recommend the guided tour in English that leaves from the Museo Ebraico every hour on the half hour) to the Secret Itinerary Tour at the Doges Palace (again, highly recommend - really gives you an insight into the political and commerical arm of the Venetian empire. Reserve in advance) to the Friari church in (San Polo/Santa Croce). I recommend Time Out Venice for a good mixture of focused sightseeing with detailed background information of artwork in churches, lists of churches that offer Vivaldi concerts (we did that too) or where to buy the perfect Carnevale mask (Ca'Macena in Dorsoduro).

We also took a half day trip to Padua. If you go, be sure to visit the univerity, the third oldest in Europe after the Sorbonne in Paris and University at Bologna, and take the tour. Also, St. Anthony of Padua is a very interesting church. We weren't able to get reservations for the Giottos in the Scrovegni chapel (book in advance - can be done on the internet). That was a bit of a bummer, but you can't do it all.

If anyone has any specific questions, I'm happy to oblige!
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 03:31 PM
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Definitely Campari. I'm enjoying a Campari and soda right now.
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 03:35 PM
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Did you take a gondola ride? If so, did you bargain or pay what they quoted?

I liked the Dorsoduro area too, it was fun to talk and mingle with the locals.

Sounds like you had a wonderful trip, going back soon?
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 03:58 PM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip. I will be in Venice the last week in April. I have my hotel set up but that is all. Any websites you can provide for reserving the tours you took would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 04:03 PM
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Ahhhh Venezia!!!......isn't it great to live on the east coast? (assumption on my part, referring to area code)
It is much closer to Venice from NY than from LA.

Can't seem to get enough of her charms!!
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 04:27 PM
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Second time in Venice and we still did not take a gondola ride. We wanted to, but it ended up being so cold that we thought we would be happier moving around. Once the weather improved, it was the last day of our trip and the start of Carnevale so there was too much else to do. Next time. I've already got a bunch of items on my list for next time!

As for booking special tours in Venice ahead of time (like Secret Itinerary), you just stop by or call (or have your hotel do it in advance) There shouldn't be a problem in late April. The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua is the one I know you can reserve on-line: http://www.padovanet.it/museicivici/.../indexbrit.htm
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 05:23 PM
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Wow - your message is great! I will be in Venice over Easter and you've given me lots of wonderful ideas; especially for the nightlife (I'll be travelling with my 23 year old daughter, so she will definitely appreciate your insights!) So here is my question to anyone out there: We will be arriving in Venice on Good Friday and will be staying on The Lido for 4 nights. I've since heard that booking a hotel on The Lido may not have been the best thing to do to get the real flavor of Venice, but I couldn't pass up the hotel deal. Anyway, I'm worried that NOTHING will be open on Easter Sunday or Easter Monday (i.e., restaurants, shops...even the vaporetto!?!) Are my worries valid? Will I need to stock up on food? Will I be stuck on an island - so close and yet so far away from Venezia? I'm really worried that we'll have to cram everything into Saturday!
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 06:00 PM
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Great report and I really appreciate the insight into the nightlife as we are traveling with our twenty-somethings the first two weeks in April. I have many of the same questions about the Easter weekend so anybody with any insight would be greatly appreciated. Jackie
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 06:13 PM
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Incidentally, my brother (a young twenty-something) was in Venice last year during Easter and he did complain that it was a bit "dead" in terms of restaurants and bars being closed (though there is always some activity around S. Margherita). Some restaurants will likely be open, but you will probably have to be more flexible as the noteworthy ones in the guidebooks will probably be closed.

I believe that the musuems will still be open at Easter, so plan to be inside the museums or the Doges Palace on that day, or walking around observing the local Easter traditions. Also, if you are staying in Lido, take the vapretto to Murano and Burano or Guidecca.

As for C. S. Margherita, my Venice trip consisted of a mixed group of two of us in our late twenties and two in their fifties. We managed to find nighttime places in and around C. S. Margherita for a nightcap after dinner. This requires some tolerance of noise, crowds and smoke on the behalf of the parents and patience in finding a bar or cafe with a seat, from the kids. It can be done and a good time will be had by all! Then, the parents can head back to the hotel and the kids can have another drink and soak in the atmosphere. From what I observed, Venice is very safe (I live in NY so I have a sense for these things) so don't worry about the kids finding their way home alone. ENJOY!
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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Traveller - Thank you for the insight. I am not as worried about the "kids" finding their way home as I am about the poor locals who have to put up with them. We made a deal before we agreed to take them with us, we promised not to spend every minute with them or question their activities if they would give us the same consideration. We like to vacation with them, and are looking forward to watching them enjoy their first trip to Europe, but we appreciate our space as much as they do theirs. Happy to hear it worked out so well for you and hope it does for as us well.
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 06:44 PM
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The 'locals' in C. S. Margherita will be of like mind and spirit to your kids, so no worries there. Plus, there will be Americans and Brits to trade stories with.
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