Visiting Venice

How does one survive being “stranded” in Venice due to the eruption of an Icelandic volcano that you certainly cannot spell, much less pronounce?

Deal… and enjoy. (You will get no sympathy from your friends.)

Subscriber Carol S. and her husband were ‘stranded’ in Venice for four days.  Here is their report:

Life at the Gritti Palace was quite satisfactory. Located on the Grand Canal, it is quiet and convenient.  It feels like “Old World” Venice. We ate breakfast on the terrace watching daily life on the water – commuters standing outside on vaporettos,  the essentials of life being delivered by boat, gondoliers preparing for the day and the traghettos starting their taxi service across to Giudecca.  Gritti Palace

Meals, however, should be taken elsewhere. In my quest for the perfect Spaghetti Vongole, I started the first day across the square at Trattoria Giglio, Campo del Traghetto   – a huge success. (Hate to say that the same dish at the Gritti was tasteless AND they removed the clams from their shells! Sacrilege!).

Having been to Venice a number of times in the past, we did not want to visit the usual haunts – so we just wandered. The goal was to get lost and take pictures of all the scenic canals and gondolas – along with checking out menus to discover new ‘finds’.  We examined dishes coming out of the kitchen, price points on the menus, the people and wait staff.  I had some names of recommended ristorantes from magazine articles. The one  magazine lead we followed was very disappointing – expensive, poor service and a very skimpy glass of vino – another sacrilege.

An old haunt from years ago was re-tested.  Da Ivo is a very romantic restaurant, known for its excellent risotto.  Location, environment, staff all nice – but the food did not seem equal to the price. Da Ivo at

The combination of factors is the key to an outstanding restaurant. Romantic, friendly, reasonable, great food – that is the winner. One that satisfied those requirements for us was “Antico Pignolo” at Calle Specchieri 451.  How fun is it to make your own discoveries?

We had no agenda and did not want one. We strolled and came upon the Palazzo Grassi, a modern art museum.  It has an interactive exhibit called “Dancing Nazis” –  shocking, provocative, colorful and engaging. We would probably not have chosen it if we researched, but what fun it was, and it led us to its sister museum in the Accademia area near Punta Dogana where the “Boy With Frog” was displayed out in the open (enclosed with glass during nighttime hours). Watching the guards watching the boy was the best part! Strolling this area was relatively new to us. Past the Peggy Guggenheim Museum,  we came upon several specialty jewelry shops that were enticing. We purchased some unique “Murano” pendants that were unavailable in numerous other glass shops. Visiting the islands, Murano, Burano and Torcello are fabulous experiences, but we had ‘been there done that’.

Another new experience was the discovery of the wine bar as a wonderful evening respite. The idea is not to dine, but to taste the many exhibited wines of the region in a small cozy, social environment.  After ‘tasting’, we wandered to the Piazza San Marco at dusk – with the small violin and chamber orchestras competing for attention in the grand space.  Three groups seemed to be vying for our attention along with the waiters and pigeons. By the way, it is true that we saw many couples embraced in the nooks and crannies of the Venetian canals at dusk – sneaking a kiss or two.  With no cars to hide away in, they make the most of romantic spaces.

An epiphany for us was traveling to Lido to rent bikes.  We explored the grandeur of another era, once known for casinos and fancy summer retreats for the rich and famous. One could detect the past opulence of the homes along Malamocco, but now it is pedestrian with working class people, many bikes, some tourists, and nice views of the Veneto in the distance. Lunch is always delightful, at  Roxy, Elisabetta Strada in Lido, we enjoyed Spaghetti Vongole again, wine, and the trip back to nap in order to prepare for dinner!

We expected our Venetian, ‘volcanic delay’, to last for five days and when the call came to go back a day early we had mixed feelings. We were eager to continue our exploration to another unvisited area. Determined to make the most of our final evening, we strolled to where the open fish and vegetable markets occur during the day, near Campo San Polo. Wow – another unexplored area – we must return! After a wonderful dinner at the purported “oldest restaurant in Venice” Antico Poste Vecie at Rialto 30170, we returned to the Gritti to pack and commiserate on our departure from this most unique and sublime city of love.

CM Santora travels extensively and we are lucky enough to have her share her experiences with us.  CM Santora is a professional photographer.  To learn more about her and her photographs, go to


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