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Venice

Venice is a jewel--one of the strangest, loveliest places you might experience as a traveler in Europe.  Like a bizarre simulacrum of a city you've never seen before in your life, it has nothing else that it can be compared with. Whether you see Venice in bright crisp sunlight or in the grey fog of morning, beauty and decay lurks around every corner, luring you into losing yourself in the maze of by-ways and fondamentas.


Other Places


From my blog:

Hotels

Holy smokes, La Serenissima is pricey.  Everywhere ELSE we went in Italy, people would say, "Oh, Venice -- so beautiful-- but so EXPENSIVE!" And this with the Euro trouncing the pennies right off our dollars. Still, we were able to find relatively inexpensive accommodations, which helped us save our euros for the biggest expense: food.

  • Albergo San Samuele- (Salizzada San Samuele 3358
    San Marco.
    Tel. +39 041 5228045
    Fax. +39 041 2702891
    )
    Ideally located in the San Marco district, just up a main salizzada from the vaporetto, this charming albergo had very simply furnished, but spacious rooms for a bargain 107 Euros (double with a private bath), and a 10% discount if you paid in cash. (They accept Visa, MC, and Amex also).

Here are a few other places we researched, but which I've never stayed in, and thus have no firsthand knowledge of. Know of the perfect room in Venice? Feel free to email me with your favorites!

Restaurants

The food is horribly expensive in Venice.  Horribly. Especially if you'd like to sit down in a halfway decent place for anything more than pizza or a snack, we never planned on spending less than 100 Euros for two people.  Seriously.  That said, you can find excellent food in Venice,  you can also find good cheap snacks.  Like finding anything else in Venice though, it takes some hunting though!

  • Da Fiore, San Marco 3461 on Calle delle Botteghe. An excellent choice for seafod in a town filled with great seafood.  In season, try the fried molecche (soft shell crabs) or the bizarrely alien looking canoce (white langoustines. Read my review.

  • Ai Gondolieri, Fondamenta dell'Ospedaletto, Dorsoduro 366. A stone's throw from the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, this lovely restaurant is, again, pricey, but puts a different twist on the typical Venetian seafood style.  Food here is exquisitely prepared-- you'll pay for it, but you'll be happy you did. Read my review.

  • Avogaria, Dorsoduro 1629. A very modern cuisine in a very old city, Avogaria served up some of the most refined food we had in Venice -- not your typical Venetian, but rather a Pugliese style. Read my review.

  • Vino, Vino, San Marco 2007 (between La Fenice Opera House and via XXII Marzo). An offshoot (and less pricey wine bar version) of the more famous Antico Martini, which is just across the bridge, Vino, Vino isn't super fancy, but serves hefty sized plates of pasta for lunch which you can wash down with a good house red. Read my review.

  • Pizzeria Ae Oche,Calle del Tintor 1552/a in the Santa Croce. Okay, it's definitely not going to win any awards, but if you're desperate for a cheap meal of large proportions, this honky-tonk little pizzeria is a perfectly acceptable choice. Expect slightly soggy centers, but tasty food. Read my review.

  • Pizzeria Il Refolo, Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio 1459. Slightly better pizza than Ae Oche, brought to you by the same folks who own Da Fiore. Read my review.

  • Cicchetti- Don't forget about these little addictive snack crostini options when looking for your cheapest meal. For a couple of euros, you can get a spritz or a crisp Veneto white wine and have lunch for... under 10 Euros! Bancogiro, at Campo San Giacometto 122, by the Rialto markets comes highly recommended although we found space at the cicchetti bar next door which was also quite good.

  • ItalianMade- Italian Food & Wine: A good reference site for names and styles of food from all around Italy.
     

Sights

Okay getting the biggies out of the way first:

  • The Doges Palace, Piazza San Marco and the Basilica.  What would be the point of going to Venice if you didn't stand in the pigeon filled Piazza San Marco taking the same damn picture that zillions of other tourists take each year?

  • Accademia, Campo della Carità,
    Dorsoduro 1050- Perhaps the greatest collection of Venetian art you'll ever find, plus on those cold damp Venetian winter days, you can back up against the radiators in their rooms and thaw out your fingers while enjoying a bevy of Bellinis. Take vaporetto #1 or #82 to the Accademia stop.

  • Peggy Guggenheim Museum. A brief walk from the Accademia is the quirky collection of twentieth century art gathered by American Heiress Peggy Guggenheim.  Admire the Brancusis and then sit on the porch facing the Grand Canal and imagine what it would be like to actually live in a palazzo. Take vaporetto #1 or #82 to the Accademia stop and follow the signs .

  • Glass blowing demos on the island of Murano. Cheesy, Yes. Touristy. Check. Absolutely fun? Oh yeah.  It's well worth the time to ride the vaporetto (#41, 42, 5) or take one of the many glass company-sponsored excursion boats for free to the island) out to Murano.  One of my favorites is at the Mazzuccato furnace where you can see them make a glass horse in front of your eyes and then browse around in the shop.

Venice can hold no more secrets, no matter what anyone tells you, but here are a few place to visit that are a bit more off the beaten path.

  • Loggia in St. Mark's Basilica. When you enter the great Basilica of San Marco, don't just follow all the tourist throngs, but look to your right just after you've gone through the portico for a narrow steep set of steps that take you up to the loggia.  For just a few euros, you can examine the interior mosaics up close and personal, or walk out onto the balcony under the replicas of the grand horses (the originals are upstairs too) and get one of the best views across the piazza.

  • Campanile of San Giorgio Maggiore. Skip the campanile in St. Mark's Square --it's always overcrowded. Instead take vaporetto #82 from Piazza San Marco over to the small island of San Giorgio Maggiore and for a few euros, ascend their bell tower to see all of Venezia laid out before you.

  • Church of the Frari. About as much of a neighborhood "working church" as you'll find in Venice, the Frari is one the the city's warmest, most welcoming edifices. Don't miss Canova's "Aliens abducted me" tomb. Walk up the main salizzada from the San Toma vaporetto stop.

  • Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Across the street from the Church of the Frari is this intensely decorated not-to be missed fiesta of Tintorettos-- more per square inch than you've ever seen in your life. Walk up the main salizzada from the San Toma vaporetto stop.

  • The Cemetery of San Michele. Final resting place for many famous names, such as the ballet and opera impresario Serge Diaghilev and composer Igor Stravinsky and his wife Vera, the Cimiterio is a quiet enclave when you desire to get away from the vast tourist hordes. Take vaporetto #41 or 42 from San Zaccaria.


 

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