I'm in Venice (have been for more than 28 hours) and I so much love this city in winter, especially December. It's been gorgeous weather, at least from a New Englander. It was a high of 55 yesterday and 52 today, both days sunny without wind. The nights are cool but not cold, and as my hotel is on the lagoon, I am leaving my windows open to get the sounds of the sea, which I adore.
I can honestly say while I have been treated well at many hotels, no one has ever treated me as I have been at the Londra Palace. The fact that the reserved a whole terrace for me (not just a balcony) over the gondolas at San Zaccaria even though I had to change my reservation at the last minute is even more impressive. Everyone here is treating me like an honored guest, which I really appreciate since it's part of no hotel chain I am a member of (though I booked and changed through hotels.com) -- its a Relais & Châteaux. I've already eaten at Do Leoni (one of the best restaurants in Venice, at the hotel, once, and will do so again since it's so good).
Venice is so beautiful this time of year. I once again walked straight into Basilica San Marco without a person in front of me as well as La Fenice (I'll have some new photos of that), and it feels like Venice as it should always be. I did stop on the way back to the hotel today to get some diet coke (a habit even worse than red wine for me ) and the man was literally shaking (it was 50 degrees!!!!). He said he was molto freddo (very cold). I said I was fresco (nicely warm) since I come from New England. He was astonished. He went on to say how much he hated Venice in winter while I said I loved it so much more. An interesting discussion.
So I guess if you're from Miami, you won't like Venice in winter. If you're from the Northeast, it's heaven, great weather, and almost no tourists.
BTW, I'm sure this is big news in the US, but it's been all over the European news channels -- all UK airports were closed for a few hour period today because of what they are saying is a technical glitch or human error but are not ruling out something worse. Some flights are now in line at the various airports, but BA and others are offering full refunds or rebookings. It's being taken very seriously in Europe.
Yes, Pluto, a whole terrace to myself with chairs and a table looking out on the heart of the lagoon. I should have some excellent sunset photos of Salute. I went back to one of my favorite restaurants in Venice, Al Fontego dei Pescatori, today and as always they treated me like family. After amazing food (a perfect sea scallop appetizer) and grilled lobster (what can I say as a Mainer? I know this is one of their specialties and it was fantastic. We all took photos together,and then I was treated to a complimentary sgroppino (a first for me). They all came over to my table with two bottles, a bowl and a whisk. it turns out this is a favorite Venetian drink, a mixture of prosecco and grappa whipped with lemon sorbet. All I can say is yum. The weather continues great, snd once again I just walked into historical places with no lines at all.
It's such a lovely thing when traveling, to meet and connect with friendly, open people from another culture. I have had two or three similar experiences in Venice and I find it just remarkable as well as special, considering that they have to deal with so very, very many tourists. Encounters like these make traveling alone, not alone at all!
That's why I love Venice so much in December. They don't have to deal with the ?millions? of summer tourists and cruise group people, and you have the whole set of islands to yourself and can just walk into historical places (I did so again with San Marco and after being only person in line I went to La Fenice for the first time). The restaurants aren't nearly full and you can pick and choose. I am right now looking out of my balcony over the Riva degli Schiavoni which is normally packed with tourists, and there is an occasional person. The sound of the waves lapping and the vaporetti coming are amazing. (I have had my windows open the whole time and the heat turned off. Even though it's relatively warm in Maine now, it's at least 20 degrees warmer here -- 55 today.)
I urge anyone who wants to visit Venice to do so in December. Two times to avoid are late-Oct-all of November (acqua alta high season, though I've never tried it -- someday if I ever do a photo montage book of my times in Venice I will have to come in November) and late January, getting ready for Carnevale. I honestly have no desire ever to be part of that and would even send a designate if I ever did a book but last year in late January a lot of my favorite restaurants were closed the week or so before it began).
Ah Venezia! Te amo.
Prof, enjoy your stay; you're becoming a local here. Venice is one of my favorite spots as well - I usually stay at the Hotel Principe near the Ferrovia (train station); sometimes at the Carlton across the canal, but more recently the Marriott, a 10 minute walk from the station. It's a bit out of the way, but quite nice. There's a lovely garden walk in the rear of the hotel:
I stayed at the Marriott (AC) once, but it really was too far out of the way for me. Venice is one of those places where I am willing to pay extra to have windows looking out on the Grand Canal (Pesaro Palace) or lagoon (Londra Palace, now). When I go to many places it really doesn't matter to me where I stay, but Venice is so special to me it is worth the extra. I've stayed at some fantasic hotels (like Ai Reali) but they're on small canals, and especially in December you can't just sit outside on your terrace or balcony drinking wine or eating a meal. I have stopped counting but this is my 15th time to Venice give or take two.
I just had a pretty amazing experience. Many people will think it mundane or perhaps worse, but I think I got some astounding photos out of it. I would call it my seagull montage. I was sitting on my terrace drinking prosecco and eating a wedge of cheese when two surprisingly beautiful seagulls perched on the rail about a yard from me. They were snowy white and the male a black and white tailfin (for lack of a better word) with four white spots decorating it. Although I adore animals and have been around seagulls since the Jersey shore in childhood, Cape Cod in middle adulthood and Maine since, birds have never particularly attracted me.
But there I was, camera with prosecco, with San Giorgio (I incorrectly canonized a painter in an earlier post) on one site, the setting sun next and Salute at the far end. The sun was between the seagulls the whole time. It was amazing to watch. They were not afraid of me, nor did they swoop down on my prosecco. They just sat and watched. One flew away but came back and then they talked. I have heard about bird talk, but this was the first time I witnessed it. You could tell there was a conversation going on. Then they posed for photos. At one point they saw themselves reflected in my other window and started squawking, mouths wide open. The sound that came out sounded oddly like a meow, though when talking with each other they sometimes made sounds I could only describe as a whisper. I never gave them any more food, but did not come in and opened the other window, which is how I got them with San Giorgio in between. After I closed the window they left, and had not soiled the terrace at all.
You will probably all think I'm crazy, but it was awesome, especially with the scenery. I hope the photos come out as they look and will pass them on.
Yes, Pluto, I've never fully appreciated birds except sparrows and hummingbirds. I have a bird feeder on my balcony at home (mostly for my indoor cat), but this was my first one-on-one bird experience. My seagulls were amazing. I was hoping they'd be back today and saved a bit of cheese for the last minute, but alas, they did not...