Our six days on the road were wonderful! We started out early Monday morning, headed for Venice, and by one o’clock we’d checked into our hotel, the B&B La Palazzetto. The location was great…just a few minutes walk from the Grand Canal, maybe ten minutes from Piazza San Marco, but secluded enough to be quiet at night and feel like a neighborhood rather than a tourist trap.
We set out to find something to eat, and settled on a pizza place not far from our hotel, up the Strada Nuova. We then set about exploring Venice with Nicholas as our official navigator. Although tourists were most definitely in evidence, we never really felt the crush.
We walked around Piazza San Marco, made a quick tour of the church, then headed towards the water. Nicholas is very interested in glassmaking, as am I, so we took advantage of one of the free water taxis out to Murano to visit a factory. We had fun watching one of the artisans create a horse right before our eyes.
Nicholas was interested in a glass cat, but needless to say, his budget necessitated looking carefully for the budget priced items. After careful deliberation, he finally found something he liked, and as we left the glass factory we discovered that stormy weather had moved in. It was now cold and windy and spitting rain. And of course we hadn’t brought umbrellas or jackets with us!
After taking the vaporetto back to Fondamenta Nove, we hung out at a wine bar, drinking hot chocolate and wine, nibbling on snacks, waiting (and waiting) for the rain to pass. We finally made a dash for our hotel…about ten minutes away, and managed to get inside before we were completely soaked.
We headed out for dinner after getting warm and dry, using our copy of CHOW! VENICE to find a restaurant nearby. Casa Mia, on Calle dell'Oca, was cute and homey. Although the service was great and the setting was attractive, we found the food to be just okay….nothing special at all. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t anything memorable. At least we hadn’t walked a long distance, or spent a lot of money.
The next morning we started off early, meaning we only had a short wait before riding the elevator to the top of the campanile. What struck me was the fact that from high above, the canals weren’t visible, and other than being surrounded by water, there was no evidence that Venice is a city of canals.
We had a tour of the Doges Palace scheduled, meaning that we could by-pass the line that had already formed. Being able to book tours online is such a time saver! The Secret Itineraries Tour took us to places where the general public can’t go, and of course we learned many interesting things about Venice, the Doges, and some of the more famous residents of the Palace and it’s prison, including Cassanova.
After a relaxing lunch we wandered some more and decided to go back to Murano. Due to the bad weather we’d only seen the inside of one factory, and we thought it might enjoy seeing the rest of the island. Although Nicholas had bought some glass figurines they really hadn’t been exactly what he was looking for, so he wanted to check out a few more shops.
Trying to balance our desire to see and learn about Venice, yet still keep Nicholas interested wasn’t too difficult. We just kept it loose, tried to hit a few high spots, but not cram too much history down his throat. We didn’t take a gondola ride with him because we didn’t think it was really worth the expense….but we did tell him that maybe one day he might bring his girlfriend or wife to Venice, and then they could share a special gondola ride!
I tried to balance planning ahead and serendipity. I made all the hotel reservations in advance, printed out maps to each place, and had a general idea of what we could see and do in each place, but other than that, we didn’t rush from place to place, ticking off sites as if they were just items on a list, not places to enjoy.
For our last night in Venice we found another nearby restaurant in Chow! Venice, this one on the Fondamenta Nove, Da Alvise, featuring seafood. Because we wanted to eat early, we arrived as soon as they opened at seven, and had the undivided attention of both the kitchen and our waiter! We enjoyed our dinner here, and would highly recommend it.
We left Venice the same way we had arrived, boarding the vaporetto at the Ca' D’Oro stop back to Piazzale Rome where our car was parked. At €20 per day this isn’t the cheapest parking option for Venice, but because our time was so limited, and because it was only for two days, we decided it was worth the cost. I made reservations in advance, which probably wasn’t necessary in May, but during the crush of high season, it might be advisable.