Dan and I are back from exploring the Adriatic coastline. My parents joined us for our annual summer vacation this year. My sister also joined for the last part.
Saturday, June 18
After a long journey, we finally arrived in Venice, a few hours later
than planned. [Our flight from SFO was delayed, we missed our connecting flight in Frankfurt, then the next flight to Marco Polo was delayed due to weather. I did yoga at the airport and ate a pretzel.] I saw a corgi when exiting Marco Polo airport, first sighting on the
continent! Dan also spotted a rabbit at the airport. We took the Alilaguna boat, arrived at Fondamente Nuove, and found our b&b. We were in Venice!
Our host had left a map of restaurant recommendations, and we wandered around looking for a resto, but the lack of
addresses and darkness made it challenging. We finally settled on a
spot that seemed promising and had a late dinner of eggplant Parmigiano and grilled calamari,
then tiramisu for dessert. I also had my first spritz.
Sunday, June 19
We fell asleep right away, but were up quite early. After breakfast, we met up with my parents at their place and saw a beagle!
We headed for Piazza San Marco, but when we reached Basilica de San Giovanni, I realized I
forgot the tickets for the clock tower tour that afternoon. Oops.
walked back to b&b, where the owner Mattia pointed out some
neighborhoods to check out (he seemed horrified we were going to Piazza San Marco). We took some photos of Ponte Chiodo, the last remaining bridge in Venice without rails.
Then we walked to the Jewish Ghetto, and spotted
another beagle on the way. We had lunch on the terrace at 40 Ladroni...a spritz
for me...then scallops, polenta with squid ink, spaghetti with
anchovies, and gnocchi with crab for all. The spaghetti was delicious. Tiramisu
and semifreddo amaretto for dessert. We made our way toward Piazza San Marco again, stopping at a chocolate shop for
samples and to watch the gondoliers. My mother observed there
wasn't any singing like when she first visited in 2000. Piazza San Marco was very crowded.
I had reserved tickets for the Torre dell'Orologio tour. We climbed up the clock tower, saw the (former) living quarters, and observed the
mechanisms in action. There was a great view
of Basilica San Marco from the top. Unfortunately my parents had trouble understanding the
tour guide's English.
Our tour tickets included entrance to the Correr
Museum, so we checked out the emperor's apartments and the museum's collection. Then it was time for gelato. According to Eat Venice, Alaska is the best gelateria in Venice, so off we went for an
amuse-bouche. I got gianduja (choco hazelnut) and pistachio, yum. Even my parents liked it. We sat by the
water and enjoyed the view in the evening light.
Then we walked to Paradiso Perduto for dinner. We ate a lot of seafood and
even yummier spaghetti than lunch, with sparkling wine. I forgot to take pictures. Pretty good
first full day, and we walked over 30,000 steps!
Monday, June 20
After breakfast we picked up my parents; unfortunately they had slept very poorly due to jet lag. We
walked to the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) for the Secret Itineraries
tour, passing the Bridge of Sighs.
Dan and I enjoyed the tour very much, but unfortunately my mother did not as she
could not follow the tour guide. We learned about the history of the
palace, saw the prison cells [including Casanova's, and heard the
story of his escape], also went up the the attic of the palace. The floor of the secret service room was mesmerizing.
After the tour Dan
and I saw the rest of the palace, but my parents were tired
so they went back to their b&b to rest. We saw the armory
and many rooms with grand paintings. I particularly like the Venetian glass windows and pink-and-white color scheme. The flooding was surprising. It was also interesting to see cleaning/restoration in progress.
I foolishly didn't bring snacks, and it was past lunchtime. We found the frieze of the woman with a mortar that we learned about during the tour. We saw a beagle, and I followed it into a cafe. We had
mediocre pizza around the corner, but the house wine was delicious. And
inexpensive. The server said it was Chianti. Delicious.
After lunch we picked up some sweets, then met my parents and went exploring; they felt better after a rest. My mother bought some tiny strawberries from the produce stand, maybe they were wild strawberries. Dan
checked out a fabric store on Strada Nova, and I saw two more corgis! One was a
cardigan corgi named Watson who likes the ladies, the men not so much.
(That's three corgis in Venice for those keeping track.) Also saw a beagle,
who Dan said was a repeat sighting from the previous day. We stopped at Grom for my parents to try gelato, but they didn't care for it. I had strawberry and lemon granita, which I shared with
Dan. We walked toward Scuola Grande di San Rocco in San Polo, stopping for my mother to peruse the knockoff handbags from various street vendors, despite my discouragement. It was
closed when we arrived, so we wandered around Dorsoduro, listened to a street musician, went inside a shop where marbled
paper is made, another shop where masks are painted, and finally an antiques
dealer where Dan liked a Flemish painting from the 1700s. (It was a bit over our budget.)
We walked to the Ponte dell'Accademia and
admired the view of Santa Maria della Salute in the fading sunlight. There was a camera crew on the bridge filming a gentleman in a gondola.
They all clapped and cheered when they got their shot. We couldn't
figure out what it was for, maybe an Italian celebrity was in the
We walked to Schiavi, a wine bar to check out the chicetti (tapas), but there
were no tables. People were standing at the counter inside the tiny space or sitting along the banks of the canal. We decided to try another resto, and had
delicious sardines with onions and pine nuts, grilled veggies, seafood
risotto, and spaghetti with clams at Osteria Ai Carmini. The risotto was delicious, but the pasta
not as good as the previous night. Tiramisu and caramel panna cotta for
dessert. Then we walked to Piazza San Marco to see the cathedral lit up
at night, but it wasn't! Also seemed like it was high tide because
there were huge pools of water surrounding the drains. Yikes. We walked
back to the b&b, getting lost along the way. Another 30,000+ step
Tuesday, June 21
Our last full day in Venice! Very sunny and warm.
After picking up my parents, we walked to Piazza San Marco without getting
lost...third time a charm. My mother bought some salad mix and grapes at a produce stand
along the way. I had reserved skip the line tickets for the basilica,
where Dan viewed the mosaics with his binoculars. They were
impressive when illuminated, so much glittering gold. I found the depiction of San Marco being smuggled in a barrel of pork fat amusing, and loved the stone tile patterns on the floors. We saw Pala d'Oro, the
golden alterpiece encrusted with thousands of jewels; I liked the baubles and Dan liked the saints in cloisonné, but my parents
skipped it (2€); they also declined the terrace and museum on the upper
level (5€). Dan and I enjoyed the upper level very much, where we could
see the mosaics up close, and some tapestries, the bronze horses, and
walk along the roof of the basilica, with spectacular views of the Palazzo
Ducale and Piazza San Marco. [Also saw a former student in the basilica, whose mother asked if I was her friend, which was pretty exciting for me.]
We had lunch along the canal at Banco Giro, just across the Rialto bridge.
It was quite fancy. We had two appetizers: burrata, tomatoes with
anchovies, and duck pate, atop beans. Then squid ink pasta, which I
thought was delicious, but my mother said tasted raw. (It's a fine line
between al dente and raw, I guess.) They also ordered a tagliatelle
with asparagus and scallops. Dan ordered salt baked sea bass with
eggplant, we all shared tiramisu for dessert. Picked up 24-hour vaporetto passes (20€), then rode the vaporetto along the Grand Canal to San Zaccaria, and looked
inside the Hotel Danieli, then transferred vaporetto to Murano.
My mother and I were not
terribly impressed with the island, although Dan enjoyed the little church and seeing the glass. After
returning to Venice, we walked to Alaska for more gelato. My father got one scoop of
hazelnut, and my mother got a double scoop of hazelnut and gianduja.
Then they both got a second scoop of hazelnut, my mother requesting the
nut portion, so the gentleman gave her a few extra hazelnuts, which I
thought was a nice gesture.
Then we crossed the canal and on the way
back to our b&b passed a wine bar that was showing the Germany
soccer match in the EuroCup; my parents departed and we stayed so Dan
could watch the match. The bartender asked where we were from, and called us "San Francisco" during the rest of our stay. He served a platter of prosciutto and cheese, delicious with Prosecco.
We stopped in a Coop grocery store to see the local provisions, and
picked up a few items for our journey to Croatia the following day, then admired
the canal views at dusk. We saw a female gondolier, and wondered if she was the one Mattia had told us about that morning. No beagle sightings, but two Westies.
Also a golden retriever on the vaporetto back from Murano, it was all
wet so I think it went swimming. I took photos of our canal view and tried not to scratch my mosquito bites.
Wednesday, June 22
The power was out, so no fancy coffee drinks at breakfast. We left our luggage at the b&b and took
the vaporetto (since we had 24-hour passes) to see the "Sistine Chapel"
of the artist Tintoretto at Scuola Grande di San Rocco. I especially liked the
stone floor tile patterns, again.
After the art and relics, we wandered around looking for a pizza resto,
stopping in a sweet shop for some hazelnut and almond brittle. Finally
we found Refolo Pizza! We sat outside by the canal, and the pizza was
better than on Monday, though still not as good as in Rome. I don't
think Venice is known for pizza though. We were near Alaska, so
we got one last gelato before departing. Then back on the vaporetto to
pick up our luggage at the b&b, and then back on the vaporetto to Piazzale Roma bus station to wait for our transfer to Croatia. We were more than
an hour early for our pickup time so we waited awhile. Dan was quite
anxious. The driver arrived 10 minutes early, and we were off. Arrivederci, Venezia!