Jul 25 2009

Venice 2009 update

Published by at 4:57 pm 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.

Towards the end of our stay, the city was thronging with energetic and attractive young people preparing for the biennale. We were also very pleased that this year we could see both the Marriage to the Sea and the Vogalonga.

Marriage to the Sea

The Vogalonga was a bit of a disappointment because it was so cold and windy that day that many of the crews had to give up. There was the opportunity, however, to see an Italianate race on the Grand Canal since boats were going in both directions. For the Marriage to the Sea, we went over to the Lido to the church where the ceremonies continued and got a terrific view of the boats as well as experiencing an emotionally moving Venetian event.

For the first time that we know about, there were tours of the administrative building of Foscari University: Ca’ Foscari.

from ca foscari

They were given in Italian with some explanations in English. The building is beautiful with Scarpa interiors that echo the feeling of the old building while being very modern with clean lines. The view of the Grand Canal from the terrace is unique since it is at one of the bends of the canal.

Another site that was interesting to visit was the Palazzo Grimani, near Querini Stampalia. This is an old palazzo in the process of renovation as well as an attempt to reclaim some of the original art and furnishings. The tour is in Italian only. It is always fun to see a grand old palazzo with an inkling about how the family lived there over a hundred years ago.

We usually like to go to a Vivaldi concert each year but were disappointed with the performance at our usual favorite venue, Chiesa San Vidal, by Interpreti Veneziani. It seemed as if the musicians were sort of hacking it out. Friends reported that the performances at Scuola Grande of baroque as well as opera music were wonderful, however. Also, in the past, we were able to get an opera ticket at Fenice even while showing up just a week before the performance. No such luck this year.


We’ve had mixed results with ordering tickets online before our visit: one time the performance venue was changed to the Goldoni and another time it never took place (we have not had any success in being reimbursed for that ticket either.) So, for opera tickets, I would suggest that if you don’t mind the exposure to losing some money and really want to see a performance, book in advance. If you are more cost conscious and have the patience to go back to the Fenice ticket office several times, choose that route. Be forewarned that some of the people at the ticket office are quite pleasant but others verge on being completely rude. Being able to speak Italian seems to be required.


For lunch a couple of days, we bought a delicious melon at the Rialto market, some San Daniele prosciutto at a nearby shop and a bottle of Prosecco and made a picnic in the garden of our pensione. It was delicious and a whole lot cheaper than dining on same at a restaurant.

On the restaurant front, our current favorite is Antiche Carampane which is worth the wander. Osteria Zucca was also very good. And we have become converted to enjoy a few meals at the nearby San Trovasso Taverna; the food is quite good and extremely reasonable for Venice.


On the San Trovasso canal, an antique dealer in a docked boat added some homespun flair to the usual interesting sights. Then there is always the cichetti and wine at the bar on our rio as well as the wonderful gelato at the shop across from the Squero. And don’t forget coffee and a pastry at Tonolo; definitely worth the calories.


On the Zattere, the restaurant Casein Nobile (which used to be only on Rio Toletta) has a new place with seating inside as well as on a terrace out into the canal. We like the new place much much more than the Toletta one (which is good for pizza but the seating and service is so weirdly unreliable that we have walked out.)

The food at Boccadero was again excellent but we were very disappointed when the bill came with a modest discount but a huge cover charge. Perhaps the owners think we don’t look at the details of the bill. I would normally go here 2 or 3 times during my stay, but was so unhappy with this billing treatment, despite the huge welcome greeting and chit chat that I did not return…

From the New Bridge

The new bridge crossing the Grand Canal up by the stations is modern and still fits in with the city; the views from the center are different from almost anywhere else in Venice. While it is a very crowded Grand Canal crossing, it is quite wide and easy to navigate. The older bridge connecting the train and bus stations is still fun but the stairs are a bit more challenging. My friend prefers to take the vaporetto across rather than deal with the bridges.


Another place for great views is the roof bar at the new Hilton in the Giudecca. You can catch a free ride from the Zattere to the hotel every half hour. The snacks served with drinks are also tasty, light and refreshing. Excellent for an apperitivo before going to dinner.


While this is a lovely looking hotel, being on Giudecca, it is definitely not in the heart of things so it is not particularly convenient for wandering about. But we understand that substantial discounts are available until it starts attracting a meaningful number of guests. If you like luxury at a reasonable price and are not concerned with being able to return to your room with ease during the day, this might be a good choice.


It also seems that Venice is trying to make the churches on the Chorus Pass (definitly a good idea if you plan to go into more that 2 or 3 churches) more accessible; they appear to be open when they say they will be open. We saw the inside of San Pietro for the first time this year — after hiking out there for many years with no luck. I also found a garden that was new to me near San Alvise.

san donato

I always like to take a few pictures of Chiesa San Donato on Murano and since another favorite while travelling is to take pictures of laundry, this picture was crying out to be taken.

My main piece of advice for travel in Venice is like most others’: Wander, wander, wander. You will undoubtedly find something interesting and memorable and feel safe while doing so (using a modicum of street awareness.)

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Venice 2009 update”

  1. noel fairon 26 Jul 2009 at 2:13 pm

    thanks, I enjoyed the blog, found it very helpful. It looks great.

  2. srcabralon 26 Jul 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Thank you, Noel!

  3. Steve Don 19 Oct 2009 at 11:52 am

    We are having a wonderful time! Our hotel is in Castello, just a short walk from San Marcos. We saw the Academia and the wonderful Peggy Guggenheim collection. We also caught a Vivaldi concert at Ciesa San ?, right next to the Academia bridge. It was amazing! Off to Murano tomorow before our trip is over, thanks so much for all hour helpful advice, it has made our visit so much easier!

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