Sept/Oct. Trip report Part 1: Venice

Oct 16th, 2003, 04:03 PM
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Sept/Oct. Trip report Part 1: Venice


We flew into Venice via Rome during the blackout which only ended up delaying us about an hour. No biggie! They were flying all flights, but the issue for most people was that they couldn't check bags. We ended up deciding to "carry on" our 24" roller bags which actually made it through security (just barely!!). They gate checked the bags before we got on the flight, so it was no problem.

We arrived in Venice at about 3:30 and took a cab then a Vaporetto to our hotel, Pensione La Calcina. It was fun riding the Vaporetto for the first time - us with our luggage mixed with locals going about their daily lives.

We had a canal front room at La Calcina which was great. This hotel is so nice - just simple, clean, incredible location, great staff, etc. We would stay here again in a heartbeat. We loved the location on the Zattere so much - it was a 3 minute walk to Accademia, and about 10-15 minutes to St. Marks. And it seemed like it was always nice and sunny over there.

After we checked in and got cleaned up we went to dinner at what ended up being one of our favorite restaurants of the trip. It's called Il Refolo and it is in the Santa Croce area. This place is run by the co-owner of Da Fiore - the son - and it was just perfect. It was a pizzaria that also had great specials, pasta dishes etc. It was on a very quiet little piazza with outdoor seating. We had a margarita pizza, gnocchi, spaghetti with clams and mussels (maybe the best individual dish of the trip!!) and 2 orders of an onion/porcini soup that was to die for. The bill with a 1/2 L of house wine was 50E. When we got home, we saw that this little place was listed in Food and Wine as a place to watch in Venice!
KMS is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 04:04 PM
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The next day, Monday, we got up and enjoyed the breakfast at La Calcina. It was looking pretty grey outside, so we ate inside. I went and checked out the grocery store "Billa" which was a fun experience. I believe I was the only tourist in there.

We then headed off to St. Marks and to do our Secret Itineraries Tour of Doge's Palace. What a treat! The tour showed the "backstage" of the palace including the jails. Very interesting and informative.

St. Marks square was breathtaking, but I was very glad we were not staying near there. It was a little too crowded for us, and I can not imaging for the life of me why someone would want to let a pigeon land on them. Eww! To each their own...

For lunch we just chose a random cafe on the way back to our hotel called "Il Cafe". It was fine - we just had some paninis (one was delicious with truffle oil) and a really nice little shrimp salad.

After our afternoon rest, we got cleaned up and went to the Hotel Danieli to try and have drinks at their rooftop terrace. Of course, we didn't realize that in the evening, it is drinks only up there. We still wanted to have our drink, so we just enjoyed it in the lobby. Since we are big Starwood customers, this was fun for us (we didn't have quite enough points to actually stay there).

After drinks we walked to Osteria Del Alberto. This was my first "challenge in navigation" and it seemed like we might never get there, but we did! We enjoyed this little place very much. We had more spaghetti with clams, tagliatelle with pesto, squid in their own ink with polenta and a steak dish. The food was quite good, but not amazing. It was a great "Venetian" place though and very friendly.

We stopped for our first gelato of the trip on the way home - I was definitely going to have more of those....
KMS is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 04:04 PM
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Tuesday was reserved for more walking around and exploring. We went to St. Marks Basilica in the AM which was amazing. It was VERY hot this day! We went up to the terrace to enjoy the great view which I highly recommend.

We walked around some more then walked over to have lunch at Avogaria (I think thats the exact name). Unfortunately, when we had checked it out the day before, we failed to notice that it was closed on Tuesdays!! So I decided to try and find a restuarant that had been recommended on this board called Ai Fonti di Spade but it was nowhere to be found. I didn't have an exact address, it was just supposed to be on Fondamente Barbarigo. Oh well! We then just went to a little place we walked by called "Oggi" which turned out to be great. We had beef carpaccio, a huge salad and (again) spaghetti with clams. Total bill was $21E.

On the way back to our hotel, we walked around some more, checked out the Rialto area and had a gelato in a GREAT little square called Campo Santa Margherita.

We wanted to go for a gondola ride that night and knew we had to haggle. This was not a great experience b/c we basically walked away from a set of gondoliers and then had MAJOR trouble finding another one. We ended up finding one at the Rialto Bridge, but we were trying to avoid them there b/c they would be overpriced. We ended up with not the best deal, but we were running late for our dinner reservations. We payed 70E for about 40 minutes and it was actually well worth it.

The gondola dropped us off and we walked to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants of the trip, Vini da Gigio. What a nice place! We had seafood carpaccio, taglialone w/ porcinis, grilled beef filet and fritto misto. We also ordered an actual bottle of wine here (Sangiovese) instead of house wine and very much enjoyed it. It was nice to have a delicious meal in an elegant setting with great service. It was 100E and I would recommend this place to anyone!

Wednesday AM we got up, had breakfast and made our way to the train station. The ride in second class on the Eurostar was great and it took less than 3 hours to get to Florence.

Florence report later!!!
KMS is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 04:20 PM
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Thank you for the report. The best thing about trip reports is the memories they brings back. I am glad you had such a wonderful itme. I look forward to reading about Florence.
yipper is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 04:35 PM
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Ooops, I forgot that we went to the Peggy Guggenheim museum which was a real treat. We are big fans of Modern Art and we were glad we did that little museum when we did b/c the rest of the trip was dominated by Renaissance Art. Of course, the Renaissance Art was what we came to Italy to see, but it was nice to see the Modern stuff too!

And the little pictures all over the museum that showed each room as it looked when it was her house were great.

And some additonal little insights about Venice that have popped into my mind since writing the report:

1. The Vaporetto system is so easy and convenient. We used it all the time - it was a godsend to our aching feet!

2. You MUST have a good map in Venice. Just stay true to the map and you will find your way - oh, and they have great little signs throughout town pointing to most destinations.

3. No smell at all. I figured there wouldn't be, but you never know!

4. The Traghetto wasn't running when we tried TWICE to take it. Too bad!

5. We were very close to cutting Venice out of our trip when we were planning it last year. We had heard it was "circusy" , "too touristy", etc. Well, I am so glad we didn't cut it out - it might have been my favorite place of all. Just magical - and if you walk away from St. Marks and the Rialto the crowds diminish considerably and the quiet is so wonderful...
KMS is offline  
Oct 17th, 2003, 04:07 AM
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Thanks for your report. Can you confirm us the construction work in front of La Calcina/Venice on Giudecca Canal was completely over?

I go to Billa every time when I'm in Venice to buy this salty buscuit made of just flour and olive oil (and salt)that I love. The customers seem mostly locals but I notice some tourists other than myself. I like visiting these local supermarkets.
hike is offline  
Oct 17th, 2003, 07:26 AM
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Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the rest.
ira is offline  
Oct 17th, 2003, 08:03 AM
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Thanks for the great report. My husband and I are planning our first trip to Italy for next year, and we were thinking of cutting out Venice for the very reasons you mentioned. I think we'll keep it in the itinerary now. Looking forward to the rest of your report!
Kay_M is offline  
Oct 17th, 2003, 08:53 AM
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There was still scaffolding up on the Zattere, but not in front of La Calcina. Actually, it starts quite a few doors down from La Calcina so it isn't noticable from the rooms. I did not notice any construction noise at all.

Kay M:
I hope you feel the same way about Venice that I do after your visit. Just make sure to walk around the less crowded areas and I'm sure you'll fall in love!
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