I’ll just throw this out there. Ladies, I might just have the best husband ever. This is a man who has known for years that I’ve wanted to do a cooking tour in Italy, so what was my Christmas present this year? A full week cooking tour in Italy. Oh, and tag on a few days in Venice and a few days in Tuscany at the end.
After almost 30 years together, I suppose he’s a keeper. And not just because he got me this vacation…
I never travel with my computer because I always think it’s a smart idea, and then I’m lugging around another 5 lbs in my carryon for no reason – I never touch my computer when I travel with it.
I’ve learned that 5 lbs can be better used for tasty treats, clothes, or shoes… omigod shoes. So, now that I am home and settled, I will recreate our tour day by day.
After some stealth back end work, four ladies’s husbands had arranged for us to take this vacation of a lifetime together, and two of the ladies arranged for their adult children to come along. Six fabulous ladies were ready to eat our way through Italy!
Venice is one of my absolute favorite places in the world. If it weren’t for the fact that nothing short of a studio apartment can run upwards to €750K, I might just get a flat there. But then, we all have our spending limits.
If you’re ever planning on doing a vacation in Venice, get a private water taxi, especially if you’re traveling with multiple people. From the airport, it’s only €150. When you split this 6 ways, we were all only spending €25 each.
While I suppose you can figure out Venice on a budget – everything can be done on a budget – I will simply say this…unless you have infinite patience for being smushed by loads of other tourists on a public water taxi with your luggage that’s rolling across the floor, just like you, a private taxi is the way to go. The extra cash was worth the sanity. When my husband and I first traveled here with our children years ago – and we were on a tight budget – we stayed well outside the city, drove in, parked, took the public taxi, and by the end, took a private taxi back to the train station. On all our multiple trips back, a private taxi it is…our sanity is priceless in that regard.
And for our part, our taxi driver was quite cute…our 26 year old travelers much agreed. And on our way to the train station after our visit, we got an older gentleman who played Andrea Bocelli and told us about some of the buildings, like he was our tour guide. Sometimes, you get what you pay for 😉 Besides, we came in at sunset and had the most magnificent sunset views on our private taxi. That, alone, made it worth every penny.
The two moms and their daughters rented an AirBnB, and that is a whole other story. Sometimes, it’s tough enough to do this in your native language. Imagine when there are issues because of a language barrier…
The other lady and I smartly decided to treat ourselves to Hotel Danieli. I will say up front, this is a luxury hotel and in high season, aka Summer, you will pay for it, but if you can treat yourself, this place will treat you like royalty. We were upgraded to a room with a view of the Grand Canal, and no detail was left unturned in our stay – we had a concierge lug our bags up the stairs, had turn down service with chocolates on our pillows, courtesy private taxis to certain places, etc, etc…
Even the hotel “bar” – one with massive hand blown chandeliers, ancient art, marble floors, and fully decked out staff – was like living in a dream. If you travel to Italy, one must experience an Aperol or Campari Spritz. For my part, I’m all about the Aperol. My roommate was all about the Campari – slightly more bitter, and if this is your gig, as the Italians said, slightly more refined. I suppose I’m not refined in that way.
If you’re in Venice, wander. Do not eat on one of the restaurants smack on the Grand Canal. While the view might be nice, you might also (trust me, highly likely) be barraged by insane amounts of noise, vendors who block your otherwise stunning view, and packs, and packs of tourists. Oh, and did I mention the insanely overpriced tourist meal???
Our younger ladies found us a nice side street restaurant for dinner the first night, and upon arrival, we had to wait for a table for about 10 minutes. Guess what? Our flirty waiter Max immediately brought over Prosecco when we agreed to wait.
Our eating adventures had begun. Little did we know how much we would eat over the next week….
Max continued to be Mr. Flirtatious with all of us, especially the over 40 crowd, and I finally said to him you’re a Cougar Hunter. He looked at me oddly, so I translated it into Italian. He then looked at me like I had 400 heads. We had to explain the reference, and he simply shrugged, saying, “I like older women,” with an incredibly sly smile.
Seems Pop Culture doesn’t always translate.
When I went back later to comment on our experience at the restaurant on Trip Advisor, I had a good laugh at the fact that Max the waiter was mentioned in many women’s posts.
This guy knew how to earn his tip, work a crowd, and flirt like a Master.
While we were dining al fresco, Italian Mother Nature was giving us a light show. The clouds were moving in, the sky with streaking with lightening, and it began to pour. We were quickly moved to an interior table, finished our meal, while waiting for the pouring rain to subside.
Then we wandered back through a magical Venice, glistening with rain. Piazza San Marco at 11:30 at night after it has rained was slightly magical.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to sing in the rain.
A perfect beginning to an amazing journey to come.