Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our Secret Spot

Ok, this is a big secret to give away, but it is such a cool little spot that we have to share it with you. This is really the only private space we have found directly on the Grand Canal that is public and easy to get to. It's a perfect spot for photos and a fabulous place to bring your own bottle of vino and enjoy the sunset. It's nestled in between palazzos with marble steps and little boat docks. Directions: From the Palzzo Grassi go around the church of San Samuele and head south on Calle Malipiero, right at Ramo Corte Teatro, then straight until you reach the Corte Sforza. ENJOY. Hopefully next time we are there we will meet you.

Nightlife & Entertainment in Venice

Let's face it, Venice is not known for its nightlife. However, we have always found plenty of things to do and see.
GRAN TEATRO LA FENICE - It's worth going even if you don't like opera. You can take a tour during the day or see a performance in the evening. A very Venetian thing to do. Gorgeous doesn't begin to describe this wonderful theatre. Sitting in the elegant box seats makes you feel like you have gone back in time.
MUSICA A PALAZZO - You may see people dressed in costume handing out invitations to these events. We were worried that it might be a tourist trap, but we were pleasantly surprised. Performed in amazing & historic palazzos you will experience opera up close and personal. I had to move my feet out of the way a few times for the actress to walk past. Quite a unique experience. Check this website for information, as well as concerts that take place in churches!
PUB - The Devil's Forest Pub. Located near Campo St. Bartolomeo; just 5 minutes on foot from the famous Rialto Bridge.
SANTA MARGARITA SQUARE - The most nightlife to be found in Venice. Young locals gather here with many small bars/restaurants and outdoor seating. Dorsodoro.
Ask around . . . last time we were there we found a few bands playing live music!
RELAX on LIDO - If time permits and you are there during the warm season, the island of LIDO is a great place to get away from it all. This is where locals go to the beach! The entire island has a slower pace and a beachy feel. Accessible via vaporetto.

Our Venice Faves

In case you haven't noticed, we are in love with Venice. Her mysterious spirit, crumbling beauty, and ancient canals call to us. Every 6 months or so we are aching to return. For now, we will enjoy writing about a few of our favorite places. Until we return again . . .
Churches - Explore & Enjoy as many as possible. Great places to rest and soak up the history of Venice.

Cafes - enjoy your morning or afternoon coffee off of the main streets if possible, here you find better prices and neighborhood regulars. Pastries &/or paninis make for a great breakfast. You'll also usually find fresh fruit & juice too. Locals stand at the bar, we usually pay the extra to enjoy a table.

Take a Break - Most of the gorgeous hotels have a nice lobby bar or terrace. This is a great way to soak up the ambiance even if you are not staying there.
HOTEL DANIELI - The most beautiful lobby in Venice. Perfect place to stop, rest and get away from the crowd. Order a drink in the bar and enjoy stepping back in time.

HOTEL BAUER - Gorgeous terrace on the Grand Canal. The drinks may be a little pricey, but your paying for the view of Salute, plus they bring nuts & snacks. Try the bellini in any flavor.

HOTEL AL PONTE ANTICO - Located just steps from the Rialto Bridge, this has got to be one of the best public balconies overlooking the Grand Canal. Perfect at sunset. Friendly staff, tiny place. Even if you don't stay here, make it a frequent stop for a beautiful flute of prosecco.

ANTICO LOCANDA MONTIN - Lush garden restaurant in the heart of Dorsodoro. Very quiet and peaceful. Great tuna tartare.

HOTEL FLORA - With its small garden and quaint bar right in the heart of the San Marco shopping area, this is a perfect place to rest your weary feet. Turn at the alley between Bulgari & The Opera Gallery.

ANTICO MARTINI - (located at La Fenice) Both sides of the restaurant are great! We stopped in before the opera for vino & trichetti in the wine bar. Then following the opera had a fabulous dinner on the terrace of the restaurant.

Venice Tips

"If you manage to pack lightly, you manage to live lightly." Diane Von Furstenberg

Pack your bags and then go back and take out half of it! It's so much easier and much more european to pack light. Americans are easy to spot hauling their giant suitcases over the bridges of Venice. Casual elegance is the goal. Comfort is number one - lots of walking means you must have comfortable shoes. It's nice to have at least a couple of daytime shoes so that tired feet can switch off day to day. Hopefully you can get by with one pair dressy shoes for evening, or boots in the winter. Venice is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, luckily these days it is easy to check a weather report before you go and pack accordingly. It has rained on us many times in Venice, but it only adds to the charm. On our last visit we sat in an empty traghetto on the Grand Canal, outside of our apartment and enjoyed a lightning storm directly over Venice. It was amazing. High water (aqua alta) occurs about sixty days a year between October and early January. At this time of year it might be a good idea to pack your rain boots, or just by some when you get there. They do place wooden walkways in all the main tourist areas that keep you above the water, but check this website if your planning a trip around that time; Anyway, Venice is a water city so don't let a little more water stop you!

We recommend flying directly in Marco Polo airport. Then take a water taxi into Venice. A taxi can be arranged through your hotel, or just pick one up at the airport. Average rates are around 100 euro. Entering this mystical city by water is the only way to go, especially if it is your first time, but every time really. It allows you to acclimate to the water mode of transportation and just gives you great romantic views as you enter Venice.

Venice is an amazingly safe and friendly city. Surprisingly, most tourists come in via train just for the day, so in the evening Venice quiets down a lot. After dinner is a great time to take stroll. On our very first night ever in Venice we were jet lagged and took a late nap, waking up at 1 am. We got dressed and went to see St. Marks Square!! It was beautiful, romantic and empty . . . except for a group of young locals playing guitar and singing american songs!! We stopped to sing for awhile and enjoyed a unique and fabulous first night.

The Vaporretto, or water buses, are a great way to get around. You can by different usage passes and quickly get familiar with the routes. Check out for more info.
Some of the lines run very late at night, so this is a nice way to enjoy the lights of the Grand Canal after all the crowds have left. Take your ipod and get a good seat up front and just cruise the canale. Cheap entertainment at its finest.

We always enjoy limiting the number of destinations we visit on each trip in favor of staying one place longer and really soaking up the feel of the city to get a more genuine experience. Depending on how much time you have this is a great way to travel. It is amazing how quickly you begin to recognize people and feel like a local when you do local things like go to the same cafe every morning. We generally stay in apartments when we travel. It just adds to the authenticity and gives us a lot more freedom and options throughout our stays. For example, we are able to visit the markets and cook or just keep snacks in the kitchen. Cheese shops are great, of course the fish market at Rialto, but our favorite is the produce boat on a small canal in Dorsodoro. Try the rocket & tomatos, then pick up some buffalo mozzarella to go with it; perfect. There is a wide range of apartments available for most tastes and budgets. A few of our favorite websites for apartment rental are;,, and are our favorites, but there are many, many options out there. You'll be amazed at how many vacational rentals there are. We love a view of the water and of course location is important. But a quiet part of town is often better than being right on a main attraction. Venice is pretty small, just look for easy access to vaporetto stops or bridges. We love staying in Dorsordoro, the Saint Stefano area or the Zattere with its long waterfront promenade and expansive views of Giudecca. These places are all quiet with a very authentic feel. It really is hard to go wrong. Just pay close attention to the size of the apartment, those Italians really have a nack for taking pictures that make rooms look bigger than they are. Also, don't be surprised when you find the beds not especially soft, and often justs 2 twins pushed together to make a king.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Venice My Love . . .

When traveling to Venezia be prepared to both remember & forget everything you have heard or read about the most unique city in the world; La Serenissima, The Most Serene Republic. We firmly believe that if you are going to Venice, the best formula for experiencing the wonders that she has to offer begins with reading a few guide books, getting a feel for the layout of the islands, making a few notes of names of famous sights and recommended restaurants, taking them to Venice with you, maybe even reading over them a little on the flight . . . then simply leaving it all behind. Leave every book in your room or apartment and enjoy the thrill of discovery. We find it much more adventurous and entertaining to explore Venice on our own, following any path we choose and stumbling upon the great treasures that Venezia has to offer. This way you cand find yourself in tiny calles, far off the beaten path and suddenly a warm, cozy trattoria will appear. You sit down to have an afternoon snack and a bottle of prosecco, only to realize that yes - you do recognize the name of this place and it is world famous for its seafood risotto!! But the fun is that you just stumbled upon this great find. Likewise and even more so for the churches. We can't really imagine following directions to find our way around Venice. They are confusing and time consuming. The grand churches that consigned work from the most prestigious artists of the time are more magnificent than most museums around the world. Let us just say that directions and addresses are hard to follow in Venezia. Better off to wander and live by the old adage of "Never pass a church without going inside!" The churches are many in Venice and the ones not worth going in are few. Regardless of your religion, take a moment to go inside as many as possible. In our opinion, these are the most perfect places to relax and reflect. Simply be thankful that you are there and that you are blessed in so many ways. It is also a good time to just be still and let Venice speak to you. She may speak to you in a church, through a famous work of art, a decadently crumbling palazzo, one of the many canales, the open sea, or somewhere else along the way. But if your goal is to absorb the mystery of Venice and appreciate that she still stands today in much the same ways she did many centuries ago . . . if you listen, she will speak. And we are certain that you will fall in love.