Venice in winter

It was exactly 3 years ago that we were in Venice – celebrating our 25th anniversary – Covid was present in Italy, but at that time, it was relatively unknown about its vulnerability and the devastation it was going to cause on a worldwide scale. It was really nice to revisit for our 28th anniversary. We booked again with Kirker who have a reliable standard of quality with their hotels and restaurant recommendations. It also helps with the general flow of arriving, getting to the hotel and transportation. We took a very early flight, so arrived in time for lunch, eating at Do Forni, a very good classic Italian restaurant, and full of locals. There are so many restaurants in Venice, and generally quite expensive, so it can be quite daunting deciding; this was also not far to walk from the hotel – Hotel Splendid. Again, this hotel was reasonably priced for it’s prime position and the rooms very comfortable. Do Forni is a more pricey restaurant, but it obviously depends on how many courses you are going to eat, but the food was very good – we just chose a pasta dish each. In the evening we ate in a local family trattoria, Trattoria Alla Scala, which offered fish at a very reasonable price and was very good. Other restaurants that we ate in was Osteria all Testiere, a small restaurant with great sea food, not a big menu, but its all very fresh, seasonal and considered. It’s one of our favourites and we went there last time we came. You definitely have to book in advance as this only seats 22 people.

There are several types of eateries, Bacaro are essentially bars serving snacks and sandwiches, but this is all you need if a big dinner is planned or you have had a major lunch. Good areas for Bacaro are Dorsodoro, around the Academia, or near the Guggenheim museum – much less tourist area with locals standing at the bars enjoying their drinks and taking in the selection of Italian snacks. Around the Rialto fish and fruit market are lots of eating places, a good choice for snacks and light meals; it is very atmospheric there. The market is a wonderful place to see real living, in what is essentially a tourist city. Wonder at the colourful variety of fruit and vegetables – some so unusual.

Anniversary dinner was at Bistro de Venise – another old school classic Italian eatery – think Sheekey’s – lots of waiters milling around in black and white, incredible service, delicious food, much more refined, but simply presented in plain bowls and tableware. Again depending on how many courses and drinks you choose, expect to pay around 140 euros for 2 with wine. Our final lunch was at a trattoria – pizza, pasta and salad, very reasonable and tasty – Barbanera – the pizza and homemade tiramisu delicious – this was around 60 euros for 2. our big treat was to have a drink in the atmospheric Gritti Palace Bar, full of glamour and sophistication, but a lovely place to sit and escape the rain. its very romantic and comfortable and we just had a beer and tea around 5pm. It’s ideal for a pre dinner drink, but of course you are paying for the privilege to sit there, but see it as a theatrical treat. The Danielli Hotel is a similar experience, but we did find that a lot of the usual things that are open in January were closed for most of January – maybe Covid had an effect, but there did seem to be less open. Lots of places were refurbishing ready for Carnival which starts early February in Venice.

The weather was not great, a lot of rain and grey clouds, but we used the time to visit some galleries. Peggy Guggenheim is always good to see, and worth walking around the surrounding streets, as quieter and less tourist; Venini – an incredible installation of glass lamps designed by Carlos Scarpa – some reconstructed from 1961. Again use the opportunity to take the boat to the next stop along to the Giudecca and feel what it is like being in a part of Venice where people live rather than just tourists, its just a short boat ride opposite San Marco. Boat rides are very expensive – 9.50 euros each journey, so its worth buying a 2 day ticket which allows you to freely get on and off, this was 35 Euros per person for 2 days. Lee Miller and Man Ray – another interesting exhibition showing the relationship between 2 great photographers, housed in another lovely Palacio. It’s a good chance to see inside these Palacios and see the grandness of 16C living. note that a lot of the galleries seem to close on a Tuesday, so good to plan your day in advance.

Venice is for walking and getting lost, you can try and look at the map, but it just frustrates you, give yourself enough time to find your proposed destination and if you get lost, even google maps can be confusing –  you will always find a sign directing you towards either san marco or the rialto bridge, which means you can then hop onto a boat back to your hotel or a recognisable site.  by the end of our visit, we realised that it was actually quicker walking everywhere than taking the boats. Another museum worth seeing, the museo fortuny, a beautiful old palazzo owned by the artist Mariano Fortuny Madrazo, which he restored to be his home and work studio, producing beautiful fabrics, artworks and clothes – remember those gorgeous pleated evening dresses;  on his death, his wife left the property to the council as a preservation of art, and so now it houses temporary exhibitions.

You can also read about our other Venice trips on previous blogs.

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