I decided to venture off the beaten path for dinner tonight, following the Calle della Pieta that runs by the side of the Metropole Hotel. Since in Venice you don't always have a choice in direction you go (lots of dead ends for private properties or bridges crossing canals), I ended up only 5 minutes from the hotel but at an absolutely wonderful restaurant, Osteria Oliva Nera (The Black Olive).
I asked for a bellini as an apperitivo and at first the owner said he didn't have any. I said, no problem -- a prosecco. He then said, no, he would get me a bellini. 10 minutes later he came back from down the street with frothy peach and told me not to drink it yet, then added the prosecco. He explained that he didn't want to give me one of those awful premixed things that come in bottles. It was magnifico!
I was ready to order the monkfish, but he said they didn't have it today because it wasn't fresh. A pattern soon developed. I ordered the filet of sea bream and I have rarely tasted fish so fresh. Meanwhile, a Frenchwoman who had been there earlier in the week was greeted by him and he sat her next to me. While I am a hermit at home, I'm much more outgoing when abroad. First, he insisted that she too must have a fresh bellini and repeated the process. While neither of us wanted to intrude we eventually started talking and it turns out that she teaches Middle Ages at the junior high equivalent level in Paris while I do at the college level. We exchanged addresses, etc. Then when I said I really wanted to visit the Byzantine style churches on the distant island of Torcello, she asked me if I wanted to accompany her tomorrow. So the nearly deserted island will get overrun by medievalists.
More was to come. The owner draws the dessert menu in whatever language the person wants for each person dining there, and with quite a flourish! He told me he liked comics when he was a child. Before I left and after an amazing dessert of fresh berries in port wine with vanilla ice cream, the proprietor presented me with a boxed bottle of extra virgin olive oil. Wow. L'Oliva Nera so outdid all the fancy restaurants on the main drag near San Marco that I was blown away. I would highly recommend it to everyone going to Venice. When I get home I plan to write a tripadvisor comment, but if anyone's going to Venice soon don't miss it.
And tomorrow to Torcello!
It was indeed, although much too hot. But everyone who comes to Venice should visit the islands, and not just Murano.
I often have experiences like the one I described. Sometimes it involves getting lost and finding some amazing historical site that I didn't know existed, which happened to me twice in Rome. It's one of the glories of travel!
Question, I now only go to Europe where I can stay at one location from Sunday to the following Saturday. Having been to Venice only once, many years ago, my question is, "Is there enough to do in or around there for six nights?"
If so would I stay on the water in Venice, or the CY, and commute. I am not a late night person, and am not trying to see "How much I can do", but "How much I can relax!".
The dining you have written about sounds great, and that would be one place I would enjoy visiting.
As usual, Thanks!
Until the Professor gets home to respond to your question, I'll add my two cents.
As much as I hate to say it, don't stay at the Venice Courtyard... it is at the airport on the mainland (Maestre) and requires taking land taxis or land buses back and forth. It's not relaxing at all as you'll want to return to your hotel sometime during the afternoon/evening to freshen up before going to dinner. I strongly suggest staying in Venice.
And, yes, there is plenty to keep you busy for 6 nights. I was there for 5 nights and didn't see half of what I had on my itinerary! Never even made it to any of the islands or Padua or Verona!
Hi Prof Chiara, Arkwright, Jerry and New Hilton--these posts come a such a great time. Sally and I are planning a trip to Venice [planning is part of the fun for us] I have made note of Prof. Chiara's restaurant! Please recommend hotels--as we have elected not to stay at the CY because of the daily commute. Has any one stayed at the Centurion Palace, Dorsoduro, 173, Venice? Someone recommended it and their recommendations are usually right on but their recommendations are sometimes$$$$....Bill
I've gotten as far as Detroit's Delta Skyclub and have 3 hours till my flight to Bangor.
No, no, no, do not stay at the Courtyard Venice except your last night if you have an early flight. It is literally at the airport, and even further out than Mestre, in Tessera. It took close to a half hour for the Piazzale Roma bus to get to the airport (where I got picked up by the Courtyard bus). Like I said, the Courtyard staff was very, very nice, but don't stay there for your time in Venice. It's for flights or cruises only.
I stayed at the Metropole, which is an elegant hotel whose every room is decorated differently. The air conditioning worked really well (it was needed) and wifi is free. The staff there was super. I would, however, check expedia, orbitz and booking.com before seeing what the hotel's website offers. I got a really good deal on expedia and as I mentioned in an earlier email I expected to be put in a cubbyhole but got a king bed with full bath, foyer, armoire, etc. So they definitely didn't discriminate against me for not booking with them. It is in the San Marco/San Zaccharia area. Further out, I had always stayed at the Best Western Sant' Elena which is a nice hotel. If you want stuff right at your fingertips at night it's not for you, but the vaporetto stops practically right in front of the hotel (Sant' Elena stop). I also read really good reviews about Palazzo Pescaro and had briefly booked there before my dates changed and it became too expensive. Again, I used only expedia and the other sites for checking on hotels.
You definitely will have plenty to do in a week. I have been to Venice six times now, and never get tired of it. Get a one week vaporetto pass (which can be combined with an airport bus ticket) and you have unlimited use, including to the islands, even the distant one of Torcello. Just riding along the Grand Canal is almost worth a day going each direction. Murano, where they moved the glass blowing industry in the Middle Ages because fires were always breaking out in Venice, is a must. San Marco, the Doge's Palace, the Bridge of Sighs etc are another day. Also not far away are two must see cities -- one of my all time favorites, Ravenna, and also Verona.
The one thing I would not suggest is staying close to the Rialto bridge. It is a horde of humanity.
Until NewHilton mentioned it, I'd forgotten Padua/Padova, which I visited several years ago on an infernally hot day (Venice is usually tolerable in the heat because you can just jump on a vaporetto). But oh was it worth it! The exquisite Scrovegni Chapel, also known as the Arena chapel because it was built near the site of a Roman arena, is stunning. It's a small chapel entirely covered with paintings mostly by Giotto of the life of Saint Francis. Padua isn't very far from Venice and the chapel is close to the train station. I only stayed to visit the chapel because it was the year of the great European heat wave that killed so many.
Jerry and Bill, Venice is one of my favorite places for relaxing, whether it's on vaporetto rides of sitting at the outdoor cafes on the Grand Canal, San Marco, or Murano. It's even better in the fall or spring than summer (fewer tourists, better weather). But don't go in November or December unless you bring thigh-high galoshes. :)
I may have to stop reading your posts, because your food descriptions and experiences are so fantastic...my mouth is watering, and I find myself looking up flight availability! I am longing to return, but it won't be happening too soon. No, I won't stop reading your posts, I will just enjoy them as do so many others. Thanks to you for all of your reports, pictures, and recommendations of the amazing places you have experienced! Keep them coming!!!
Theo, just a thought...the last time we were in Venice, we rented an apartment through VRBO.com and it was a fantastic 5 nights! We were among the locals and got to experience life as they do, plus, the extra space was nice. We stayed in Dorsoduro(I know I spelled that wrong...sorry), and walked everywhere, even our little guys who were 4 and 6 at the time. But, in retrospect, I would have gotten a waterbus pass to get us around faster. It was fun at first exploring, but after 3 or 4 days, well, even all of the gelato in the world couldn't hide the fact that we were all a bit worn out. So, when we return, we will most likely stay a little closer to the sights, and if we will the lottery, a place on the Grand Canal
Have a wonderful time!!!
I will indeed -- it's part of the fun. Alas, teaching starts soon, so my next trip will not be till fall break (SW France), but that should provide good food and photos. (I'm adding one of a bellini in Piazza San Marco.)
You spelled Dorsoduro right and it's a great idea. Ever since my 3rd trip to Venice, when it was beyond hot, I have gotten myself a vaporetto pass for the whole trip. Not only does it save time, but usually money too. If you get lost, easily done in Venice, you can usually head toward what looks like the nearest large body of water.