Nov 21 2014

Venice (with a little Rome) 2014

Published by under Uncategorized

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We had a wonderful visit this year, catching up with friends. We were in Venice for the Clooney wedding, sadly, not invited. We met someone who said he saw Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at Arsenale, which was our claim to fame; but evidently they were not in Venice but filming elsewhere.

This year was the architecture biennale and it was fun to wonder through the various venues. The glass exhibit at the Cini Foundation was again spectacular. The basic trick is to walk around and keep cognizant of the fact that almost any random palazzo could be the site of an interesting exhibit. Many are free.

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I have several restaurant updates. I am including a bit about Rome which I have just started visiting so I’m sticking to the highlights there:

Gelato:
Our former favorite gelateria, near the squero in Dorsodouro, appears to have changed hands and the gelato is now terrible there. As an alternative, I recommend the one in Campo San Vidal. (However, the gelato in Rome at Gelato del Teatro near the piazza Navona was way superior.)

Coffee:
I had always heard that the coffee at San Eustacio near the Pantheon in Rome was terrific. I would say it is in a class by itself. I have never had such a delicious brew. Coffee here is really not to be missed.

In the meantime, in Venice, I am still very partial to Tonolo in San Polo. The coffee is very good and I find the chocolate beignetto irresistible. Stand up only.

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Sometimes I like to have a few cichetti for lunch, but otherwise I have become very fond of salads. Both in Rome and in Venice, some salads are delicious, easy on the waistline and easy on the pocketbook.

Lunch:

In Rome, I very much enjoyed lunch at Espressamente near the Pantheon. An example: smoked salmon, a little robiola, mango slices and frisee.

In Venice:
La Piscina on the Zattere has a good selection of salads, some with robust amounts of protein.
Naranzaria, near the Rialto bridge, is a wonderful setting with tasty salads and a somewhat less ambitious menu than in year’s past.
Alla Zucca in San Polo (or Santa Croce? never sure) has an amazing vegetable plate which appears to be chef’s choice.
Oniga in Campo San Barnaba also has a nice vegetable plate also, but I like Alla Zucca’s better.
La Rivista near the Accademia had a salad with a terrific selections of young greens. Service there, however, is a bit problemmatic.
Cipriani in Torcello was interesting but not exactly light on the pocketbook.
Aqua Stanca in Murano had tasty food in a lovely modern setting.
La Favorita on the Lido always has wonderful fresh fish and usually slightly different prepartions than central Venice.

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DINNER:

In Rome, where we admittedly never ventured far from our hotel, near the Pantheon, for dinner, our favorite by a lot was Grano. We pretty much worked our way through the imaginative offerings on the menu and enjoyed the food, wine and service.

In Venice:
Antiche Carampane is still our all time favorite and it feels like we are visiting old friends when dining there.
Ai Artisti, our neighborhood place near the Accademia, never disappoints and is an excellent alternative for Mondays when fish is not served.
Do Mori in Cannaregio was new to us this year. Everything was very well prepared with some not-typically-Venetian flavors.
Bepi, not far from the Ca’ D’oro, was fun with great appetizers.
Oniga also has a formidable shellfish dish called something like Buccatoro which we really enjoyed. It is a shellfish stew followed by pasta to sop up the soup.

La Riviera  on the Zattere had good food but extremely expensive. If money is no object, you might find it a hoot.
Covino in Castello, an offshoot of Al Covo, served good food but the preciousness was a bit over the top.

Altonella in Giudecca was very disappointing this year. Overpriced and I would say the food was not all that fresh.

Next year’s visit to Venice is already booked! The beauty is irresistible and the absence of cars is the icing on the cake.

 

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Oct 15 2012

Venice – 2012

Published by under Venice Restaurants

This year, for the first time, we went to Venice in September. We had been there in May and June previously. The good news was that we could enjoy the architecture biennale and the collateral shows by waiting until the fall. The exhibit that I enjoyed the most was at the Cini Foundation on Isola San Giorgio of the Scarpa designs for the Venini glass works. (BTW, as I write in December, 2013, this terrific show is now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC!!) Not only were the beauty and breadth of the glass amazing, the descriptions of the processes were pitched perfectly to nonprofessionals who wanted some technical explanations. The Correr also had a wonderful show of Guardi paintings; I now understand the connection between his works and Canaletto.

The bad news was that moeche (soft shell crabs) and local, Sant’ Erasmo, artichokes were no longer in season.

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Sep 07 2011

Venice Restaurants, Update 2011

Published by under Venice Restaurants

Before launching into the restaurant update, I must comment on being in Venice during the Biennale. Picture a whole city just filled with art venues. Wherever you go, there is an exhibition. Besides enjoying the art, which is almost exclusively contemporary, one gets to see the inside of gorgeous palazzi not normally open to the public as well as the beautiful gardens usually entirely closed from view behind high walls and gates.

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Jul 10 2010

Venice Restaurants 2010

Published by under Venice Restaurants

Here is an update of restaurants we like and enjoyed this year:

Tip: I like to go to the Rialto early in my visit to check out which fish looks particularly attractive, local and in season and to learn the Italian/Venetian names so there are no surprises when ordering from a menu. The translations of the names of traditional Venetian shellfish and seafood sometimes tend to be English (rather than fish or fish names with which we are readily familiar in the US.)

 
In giving prices, for dinner, I am assuming 2 people have an appetizer, share a pasta course, have a main dish, share a dessert and have a full carafe or bottle of house wine and bottled water with the meal. None of the restaurants listed objected to sharing courses. For lunch, I usually have an appetizer and either a pasta course or a main course and  1/4 carafe of wine, no dessert. Lunch price approximations are for one person.

Reservations are always a good idea and absolutely essential in some restaurants. Your concierge will be happy to oblige.

Antiche Carampane in the San Polo sestiere is our favorite every year and worth trying to find. The nearest vaporetto stop is San Silvestro on the Number 1. There was an amuse-bouche of deep fried schie (very small shrimp). For appetizers we have variously had the crudo (raw fish sliced thinly, paired with little lettuces and served with a little wasabi on the side), sea and bay scallops and several types of clams. We have started skipping the pasta course because it is just too much food, but if you have an excellent appetite, the pastas are delicious. For the main course, the moeche (small soft-shelled crabs) are wonderful but might seem a little repetitve after the schie. In years past they had a fried zucchini amuse-bouche which we like a bit better. All of the dishes are excellent. There are delicious desserts as well.   There is now a menu available in English and French as well as one in Italian. (Used to be all verbal.)  About €150.
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Jul 25 2009

Venice 2009 update

Published by under Venice

Once again, the May trip to Venice was relaxing with some new places visited. In early May, the city seemed bereft of tourists. Imagine walking in Piazza San Marco in the early evening with maybe a dozen people. Astonishing and lovely. We visited Saint Mark’s in the evening with full lights with a small group and appreciated it so much more that way; our tour was provided as the finish of an earlier cruise of the Meditteranean.

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Aug 21 2008

Basics: Neighborhoods

Published by under Venice Neighborhoods

Venice is divided into 6 districts. San Marco is the district with the highest tourist traffic and the big sites centered around Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square).

St. Mark\'s Square

If you are only in Venice for 2 or 3 days, you might want to stay in this district and then walk to the main attractions, battling huge crowds and guided groups as well as long lines during the height of the tourist season. Think Times Square on New Year’s eve. The high end shops are in San Marco as well. We avoid restaurants in San Marco; they tend to be either outrageously expensive or have uninspired fare catering to tourists with limited palates.

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Aug 20 2008

Venice – beyond central Venice

Central Venice is comprised of the 6 sestiere (districts) that are all accessible on foot. The nearby islands, while considered part of Venice require a boat for access.
Nearby:

Across the Giudecca Canal is the Giudecca, an island that used to be almost exclusively residential, sort of like Staten Island. There are now two upscale hotels/resorts here with their own boat shuttles to central Venice: Cipriani’s and a Hilton. We’ve gone for coffee or drinks and enjoyed the views and ambience.
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Aug 05 2008

Where to Stay

Published by under Venice - Where to Stay

My favorite place to stay while in Venice is the Pensione Accademia. The hotel is in a great location, near the Accademia bridge, and has lovely gardens as well as crisp, bright (small) rooms. The staff change infrequently and are very helpful. My friends and I have thus far only been there in May and early June (we try to catch the Vogalunga each year, with modest success) which we find ideal because the weather is warm and pleasant and tourist season is not quite in full swing. The Pensione attracts an international crowd with a fair number of people from the European continent and England as well as Americans. We have met some interesting people and enjoyed conversations at breakfast in the dining room or in the front garden and in the lounge before dinner. The garden in back of the main building is our favorite spot especially the swing facing the roses.

Here is a view from my very small, single room. Whenever I book it for the next year, I sense incredulity on the part of the concierge that I really want to stay in that small room again. But I love the view and the price is right. The edge of the front garden is in the foreground and the center is the Grand Canal.

 

 (www.pensioneaccademia.it)

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Jul 31 2008

From the airport to central Venice

Published by under Venice Transportation

The question I am asked most frequently is how to get from the airport to central Venice. There are 3 basic options: water taxi, Alilaguna, bus.

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Jul 05 2008

Random Thoughts

Published by under Venice - Other

This section will include various tips and photos that are of a general nature or out of the main stream of the blog. A General Suggestion for Touring in Venice (or Italy): There is always the possibility of a strike or protest or demonstration in Italy. Many of these events are scheduled in that the time and place have been registered with governmental authorities but as a casual tourist, you may not know about them in advance.

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To avoid stress on a vacation, it is strongly recommended that you do not overschedule your activities on a given day so that a seemingly spontaneous interruption of services and/or transportation does not create a huge disappointment. For example, if you have bought a ticket to see a much-loved opera at La Fenice in the evening, it would be wise to stay within central Venice that day, or at least afternoon, so that if the vaporetti or taxis are on strike, you could walk there. Similarly, taking a trip by train on a day when you have evening plans to, say, Verona, might not be a good idea if there are issues with the trains or if you make a mistake and take a train in the wrong direction (I will have to raise my hand to this one. It is hard enough to tell what a public system announcement means in English; in Italian, for me, it is impossible.) Continue Reading »

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