Years ago when we traveled to Venice with our kids, my husband and I read copious books about Venice, and they all said, you can’t get lost…Venice is a series of small islands connected by bridges, and it’s only so wide and long.
Leave it to me an my compatriot to actually traipse the same area three times to try to get back to our hotel… we actually got lost! The picture below was taken in the morning after we has a massive clusterfuck with literally every single small appliance and adapter/converter we had: hair dryers, curling irons, phones, watches…nothing worked or was charged. I think I knew this and just brain farted when packing, but I have a Northern and Southern Europe adapter. Like a ding dong, I brought the Northern Europe one. Yep. Italy ain’t in Northern Europe.
If you’ve never been to Italy, know this: they have a 3 prong plug, which only works with a Southern Europe adapter, which has slightly smaller prongs than the Northern Europe adapter. If you have a standard “Europe” plug, you will need an adapter while in Italy. I got so fed up, I actually purchased a new curling iron with a European plug while in Venice, and guess the fuck what? I needed a bloody adapter to plug it into the hotel we were staying in, less than a mile from the friggin’ place I purchased it! Infuriating. Thanks to our hotel we were all set in a matter of a phone call. Apparently, we’re not the only ones who’ve struggled in this arena.
I think these faces were warranted. We were making the same faces after were found ourselves in the same square the 3rd time in a row hours later. Like I said, you can get lost in Venice.
Venice is a place of infinite beauty to me. Like I said, if real estate wasn’t astronomically priced, I’d likely own something here. Even through it’s a tourist destination, there are quiet side canals where you see normal, daily life seeping through.
And then there is the infinitely gorgeous Piazza San Marco. One of my favorite memories from previous trips here is being able to be in Piazza San Marco at sunset, looking out over the Grand Canal when the bells ring.
If you’ve never been in the church above -Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco – it’s a highly worthy trip inside. My first encounter was in the mid-80s, when I came over in high school, before Venice had cleaned up it’s canals and trash efforts. In short, Venice was a dirty place. However, it still held its beauty. We came not long after the Grand Canal had flooded, and well, the church flat out stunk to the high heavens, even our tour guide struggled not to plug his nose for most of the tour, but I’ve longed remember the beauty of this church.
As you wander through Venice, you cannot help but note there is excellent shopping throughout Venice, but right around Piazza San Marco, there are loads of high end stores that sell things you cannot get in the airports on the way out and don’t think for a moment that the Euro markets and American markets carry the same product. They often don’t…trust me. Seen it, passed it up hoping to get it on the way out or back States-side, and nope. No go.
And I, being the self professed shoe whore that I am, have no regrets about any of this – I have coveted René Caovilla‘s designs for many a moon. He is know for his stunning design and use of crystal. Knowing European shoes can have a funky fit, I refused to purchase a pair until I could try them on, and what better time to do so than to actually visit the flagship store in Venice. We stumbled upon this sign before we found René’s shop:
And I have zero regrets about purchasing these stunning beauties below, carrying them in their box throughout the rest of my journey, and ultimately wearing them to our final dinner in Italy, upon which, I received many a compliment – they were actually called my Cinderella shoes by one lovely Italian lady 😉
And check out the mask shops… Avoid the cheesy ones along the Canal. Wander into the heart of the side canals, and you’ll find quiet little shops. They’re incredible. You’ll know immediately if you’re in an authentic shop where the masks are hand made because you’ll see the paper mache molds drying and artisans with in their aprons with their hands covered in plaster.
There are tremendous restaurants, both well known and charmingly local, that are worthy of a visit, but you can also grab some great quick eats & treats in the local bakeries:
And don’t forget the gelato!! I had lime, and on a humid day in Venice, its tart-sweetness was the perfect fix to cool down!
And I inadvertently planned my outfit well enough that day to match my Aperol Spritz…
As I said earlier, one of the ladies and I stayed at the Hotel Danieli on the Grand Canal. Even if you’re not staying there, booking a sunset dinner on their terrace restaurant is a worthy treat. Forget the standard menu – do the tasting menu… you will not regret it. The food is sublime, and the views are breathtaking.
This is the view in the morning while we had our coffee and breakfast, and it was astounding:
But our view for sunset was equally as gorgeous.
Our tasting menu – worthy of every penny. Trust me… you will not be disappointed.
Do the wine pairing with the meal. The Italian wines were as amazing as the food…
At the end of it all, our younger travelers decided they wanted to try a bellini at the iconic Harry’s bar. I will simply tell you this, go there. It’s a cool place. But if you want a bellini, only get one only when peaches are in season. I’ve had a bellini from Harry’s in late winter…the peach didn’t taste like peach, and I was underwhelmed. I was prepared to be underwhelmed this time, as well, but I was pleasantly surprised by the peachy taste of this bellini. Guess what? It’s July, and peaches ARE in season. Fruit in season makes all the difference in a drink when the fruit flavor is meant to shine.
After Harry’s, we decided that taking a midnight gondola ride was worth the chunk of change. If you read the travel books, they tell you the gondola ride is a waste of money, annndddnd, they might be right. But if you’ve never done a gondola ride, you have to do a gondola ride. When in Rome (or Venice) kinda thing.
And doing it at night is even more of a treat. It’s quiet – the streets, the people, the water. It’s beautifully eerie in a way. You can feel the ancient nature of the city.
But even when you wander all day, you eventually find your way back to the starting point. While it wasn’t raining tonight, it was still worthy of a little dancing:
My roommate had more issues not making faces than me… She makes my inability to take a good photo look like child’s play – she’s sticking her tongue out at me…