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Postcard from Venice

I am writing this trip report in a jet lagged state as I returned yesterday afternoon on a direct flight from Venice, yay! We left on 8/24 arriving 8/25 early in the morning and flew home yesterday 9/03. We had 9 nights there, a magical trip hard to imagine any other trip matching it in the charms department. We had unexpectedly fantastic weather, brilliant blue skies and temperature in the 70’s almost every day. One or two days, mornings were cloudy with a little rain but sunny skies before noon. Two or three evenings we had thunderstorms, one time a dramatic hailstorm in which a hailstone hit me in the back which felt like a rock.
We did a lot of wandering the day of arrival and exploring our neighborhood, Santa Croce near the San Stae vaporetto stop. We loved our Campo, Campo San Giacomo da L’ Orio, a homey, cozy place like a square where the locals gather at lunch and evening or any time of day. The children play, adults chat and shop at the Coop grocery store. Restaurants abound as well as a gelato shop that sells artisanal gelato. It’s a local scene away from the hustle of St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge and Market. I would stay there again.

On 8/26, we took a train to Padua to see St. Anthony’s Basilica, the Scrovegni Chapel (must buy timed tickets in advance online), very moving. We also toured the University of Padua, advanced timed tickets bought online. A highlight was the University’s School of Medicine’s operating theatre. Very old school established in 1222.

On 8/27, I decided to find a specific gift shop in the Castello sestiere using my Citymapper app. The big challenge is crossing the Grand Canal, the app led me over the Rialto Bridge and I eventually found the shop on Strada Nuova. I then had lunch at an outdoor cafe and chatted with an Italian lady and her mother. She’s a native Venetian, speaks English and dresses fashionably as Venetian ladies do. I asked how she felt about tourists and she was diplomatic about it but acknowledged the special problems with cruise ship day trippers. When I was ready to leave, she told me to take the Traghetto at San Sofia which takes you directly over the Grand Canal avoiding the crowds on the Rialto Bridge. It was an adventure sitting in the lightweight shell of a boat, I wondered to myself how many people drown in the Grand Canal.
This evening of 8/27our tour begins with a meeting at the hotel at 4 pm. We then have a wonderful private boat tour of Venice and then a delicious dinner! It’s a small group tour with a former RS guide and 12 people.

I will post more later.

Posted by
4939 posts

Judy B, I've been waiting for this!

And welcome home. Can't wait to hear the rest of your adventures.

Posted by
361 posts

Hi Judy are you with Sarah Murdoch's group? I've been following on Instagram.

Posted by
959 posts

Welcome back, Judy. Absorbing every word since I will be doing this same trip in March - though I suspect the weather will be different!

Posted by
2976 posts

Welcome home, Judy. I thought of you as I looked at a Monet painting of Venice in Museum Barberini in Potsdam a couple of days ago. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your trip!

Posted by
7437 posts

This certainly does sound like Sarah’s “staycation in Venice” trip. But Judy I am confused — in the first part of your message, you say you are jetlagged because you flew home on 9/3 after 9 nights in Venice. Then at the end of your post, you say you are going to meet your guide and group this evening. Maybe I am more jet lagged than you !

In any event, it sounds like your first nine days were wonderful !

Posted by
2058 posts

Yes, I am home now but writing of the trip in present tense. Sorry for the confusion. 08/27 was the beginning of the tour. My friend and travel companion and I arrived 08/25, early in the morning allowing us to spend most all day out in the fresh air and sunshine.
I will finish writing later.

Posted by
2058 posts

It was Sarah’s Staycation week in Venice. It’s a form of slow travel with a small group (up to 12 people), meant to stay a little longer in one place and savor your time there with activities reflecting the place. It’s not really meant for someone’s first time ever trip to Europe; it will cover some blockbuster sights but mainly delve into those luxury things you would have difficulty finding on your own because of her resources and deep experience in Europe.
Also, she will do tours for your special needs, say for you and friends/family of 6 or 8. Customized for you.
An example: We were having a cooking experience in a palazzo with a former chef of the Gritti Palace and Sarah was discussing with the Palazzo owner hosting a small group of 6-8 people who would stay in this Palazzo.

Posted by
3254 posts

Judy B, I am loving your trip report! We spent a week in Venice in 2018 locating ancestral roots. Venice certainly merits a leisurely visit. You made my day! Grazie. Looking forward to more posts.

-BTW- how fortunate to have Sarah as your Guide. We have had the honor of attending some of her travel classes at RS Travel Center.

Posted by
1133 posts

I follow Sarah, and her posts last week were so intriguing.
It looks like a fantastic experience to spend such a week in Venice.
She's now in Sicily and I can't wait to see what she shares with us.
Thanks for sharing your personal take on the staycation.

Posted by
1019 posts

Thank you, Judy, for this note resting post. I absolutely adore Venice. My hubby and I took a class with Row Venice, which was one of our trip highlights, as was a cichetti crawl. Can’t wait to visit Italy again. My next trip will involve hiking in the Dolomites.

Posted by
9546 posts

Judy! What a fun time you had! I didn't know to "look" for you on the Staycation pictures. I traveled with Khajha and Cheryl on Village Italy many years ago and was able to introduce Khajha to her first Aperol Spritz, lolol! The weather for you all looked stunning!

(Sorry...that is a LOT of exclamation points, hahaha.)

I love Sarah's "Staycation" idea. I've done a number of Road Scholar tours which stay in one location 5-6 nights and it's such a nice way to settle in. While I love the faster paced tours to cover a lot of territory for my first time in an area but am enjoying staying longer in some locations.

Posted by
4939 posts

Not unlike Rick's City Tours. I wish there were more of them.

Posted by
7437 posts

Aha ! Understood. So glad you had a wonderful time, and thanks for reporting back !

Posted by
2058 posts

On Sat. 08/28 -
Breakfast on our hotel patio, a lovely oasis of flowers and old carved faces of Venetian historical figures in the walls. Very atmospheric. The breakfast buffet had a variety of eggs, bacon, Italian meats, cheeses, fruits, several kinds of croissants and your choice of cappuccino or any coffee. The Covid difference was you had to wait for the hotel waitress to give you what you wanted, no guest was allowed to serve her/himself. Mask required inside.

Our hotel has a water boat dock where we arrived from the airport as we chose to reserve the private water taxi from the airport, 30 minutes for 110 Euros for up to 4 people. There are other cheaper options from the airport, of course. Rick’s guidebook spells it out for you. We were lucky our hotel had a waterside dock, others do not.

In this report, I will try to mention the Covid differences as I go along. My overall experience is the Italians are very serious about showing your EU GreenPass or CDC Card upon entrance to any indoor sight and they carefully inspect the dates of your vaccination(s) and the type of vaccine you received.

On our day trip to Padua before the tour began, we were asked to show proof of vaccination at all sights and before boarding the train in Venice and in Padua. Also, they ask to see your passport.

On to Sat. 08/28 -
We walked from the hotel to the Rialto Market and saw the variety of offerings and on to the entrance of the Doges Palace to meet our local guide. She has a degree in Art history and is a native Venetian. I had been through the Doges Palace 5 years ago during the Aqua Alte but didn’t appreciate it like this time. We were just happy to be in a dry place! Back to the present, we went through every room and heard our local guide’s detailed comments. I would say we spent 3 hours experiencing this amazing place. There were other tour groups as well so we didn’t have the place to ourselves but we maintained social distance. As the week wore on, I noticed there were more people arriving to Venice, the Dolce and Gabbana fashion show was scheduled for Sunday and Monday the 29th and 30th. St. Mark’s Square was being cordoned off for preparation for the D&G fashion show in the Doges Palace and the catwalk in the Square. I was pleased we were there without the cruise ship day tripping hordes. Also, the Venice Film Festival as part of the Biennale was slated to begin 09/02.

We were on our own after that for lunch. We met at 5 pm for cicchetti and wine and then walked to the appointed place for our gondola ride with a singer and guitarist! A delight! After the ride, one of our tour mates suggested we have a drink on the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Bauer which by the way was where our gondola ride ended. Most of our group including Sarah reconvened on the terrace and watched the sunset and hung out for several hours. A magical evening all the way around!

I will conclude here so I can go out for a walk as I’m still jet lagged. I will pick up my report later.
Ciao for now.

Posted by
9546 posts

"After the ride, one of our tour mates suggested we have a drink on the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Bauer which by the way was where our gondola ride ended. Most of our group including Sarah reconvened on the terrace and watched the sunset and hung out for several hours. A magical evening all the way around!"

I thought Sarah's live stream of that event was just jaw-dropping. I would not have had the nerve to do that on my own and I don't know why as it is a public space and open to the public!

Hope you can get outside to get some sun in your face today! Can't wait to hear more.

Posted by
268 posts

Thanks for sharing about your trip, Judy! The Venice staycation sounded incredible and like a great way to see the city in a new way.

Posted by
343 posts

Lucky you to join Sarah Murdoch on a staycation! Can’t wait to hear about the rest of the tour.

Posted by
2058 posts

On 8/29 - we walked to the Accademia Gallery for an in-depth tour of the paintings by our art history guide and then a short walk over to the Scuola Roco that houses the fabulous Tintoretto paintings. We finished about noon and had free time for the afternoon and evening. Several of us decided to find our way back to the hotel, haha, this is when we learned getting lost in Venice is a thing in itself. One of us had a Tracfone that was locked but could locate our position on google maps with no indication of the location of our hotel. I had loaded the Citymapper app on my iPhone with the hotel entered as Home but the app wasn’t working properly so between the two of us we finally navigated our way to the hotel after at least an hour! You might think we are idiots, but St. Mark’s Square was cordoned off for the Dolce and Gabbana fashion extravaganza. We would have walked through one side of the square to find the way back. We tried following the signs to Ferrovia and Pl. Roma bus station but kept doubling back away from the hotel. Finally we reached our street! The outdoor cafe on our hotel’s street was open and serving lunch; we sat and had a much-needed lunch with lots of water. Later I took a siesta and we met up later for a stroll through our quiet neighborhood for gelato and a light supper in our local Campo. I made a video of this charming neighborhood “living room” with children kicking around a ball, children skateboarding, adults chatting and some of us sitting on benches. Restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating. I love the community atmosphere Italians excel at and I thought of the isolation of many Americans living in suburbs, all of which made me long for this lifestyle. Although I do live in a small townhome complex and we do have some of this sense of community. One reason I love living where I do. However we do not have the walk ability, the nearest grocery store is one mile and you have to walk on a sidewalk on a very busy road. Not pleasant. The campo is a dream and we walked there every evening or lunchtime we were free and needed a refresher. Gelato every day.

On 8/30 - after breakfast, we boarded our private boat that would transport us to the islands - Murano, Burano and, wait for it - Torcello! Another gorgeous day with impossibly brilliant blue skies and moderate temperatures in the 70’s.

Murano - we had a glassblowing demonstration by a young female apprentice (for 4 years) with dramatic and amazing skill. She made a beautiful horse. Our host let us loose to walk through their gallery of beautiful glass objects from jewelry, vases and chandeliers. I love Venetian mirrors and the ones I saw were ultra expensive. I did fall in love with a chandelier and bought it, it will be shipped to me and I should receive it in a few weeks. Another tour mate bought a beautiful glass object that she will bequeath to one of her children.

Burano - next stop, we were given an hour to wander this colorful place and peek into shops, here three of us bought beautiful scarves. I found three to buy! I’m on a spree, all to help small businesses, of course. We went into the lace-making shop with its attached lace museum. An old lady was making lace and I watched her for awhile. Fascinating. More strolling and pictures and back to our boat.

Torcello - an island with 20 residents and Venice’s oldest church, Santa Maria Assunta, with impressive mosaics. We ate at an exclusive restaurant where Princess Diana, Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth have feasted. Locanda Cipriani is also an inn I think. We had 3 courses with wine beginning with gazpacho and a main course with a meat or vegetarian option and then a selection of desserts. A lovely setting with tables outside under a lush green arbor, we were seated at a table looking out on the garden with blooming roses. I felt like an honored guest and told Sarah each day of the tour is better than the day before!

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2058 posts

On 8/30 - after our return to Venice after a wonderful day touring the islands -
Went back to my room for a rest and then later went out wandering in our neighborhood headed to the campo. 3 tour mates joined me to get a Spritz at one of the outdoor tables. Lo and behold, a hailstorm popped up and we ran for cover. After the rain finished, the locals came out again and the evening began. Gelato and a leisurely walk back to the hotel. This is the benefit of staying in a residential neighborhood!

Forgot to say we toured on Torcello the oldest church of Venice, Santa Maria Assunta. The mosaics are amazing and when I tried to take a photo, the attendant told me, No. As it was a Monday, the museum was closed.

On 8/31 - after breakfast, we walked to a palazzo for our daily adventure, a cooking class by the former chef at the Gritti Palace Hotel. We found ourselves in a large white kitchen with our chef for the day and his sous chef. Once again, Sarah has topped herself with another over the top experience for us. Michaela, (sp.) told us about the fresh ingredients he and his assistant had bought early that morning at the Rialto Market: octopus, squid, clams and fresh in season vegetables and fruits. He explained the chemistry behind cooking techniques and preparation of various recipes. They served us any kind of coffee we wanted, appetizers, Prosecco or wine. We were there for 4 hours. Michaela put us to work, I broke all the eggs needed for a recipe and cleaned the clams. The point is the professionals did the actual cooking, we only stepped in occasionally to help with the food prep. The owners of the Palazzo were there serving us. Sarah was discussing having a small group stay there for a possible tour.

When we were done with our 5 course lunch, we walked back to the hotel for a siesta. Then another evening in our local Campo topped off with a gelato. Life is good, I really enjoy this new routine. We chat with folks waiting in line at our gelato store.

This is the night for my Covid test as I’m flying home on Friday the 3rd and it is nerve wracking. I ordered the Binax NOW test from the Optum health website and my travel companion who is a retired doctor with the CDC helps me with the test. It’s proctored on my iPhone by a medical professional and my negative results appear in 15 minutes. The results appear in the NAVICA app I downloaded on my iPhone. The electronic version is accepted by Delta Airlines app. The agents at the Venice airport inspected my CDC vaccine card as well as the negative test results at the gate for our flight.

On 09/01 - this is our day for rowing lessons! We walk to a Traghetto stop where we traverse the Grand Canal straight across to the Santa Sofia stop. There are only 4 Traghetto stops, the ride costs 2€. All gondoliers are required to do 2 days a month (I think) as they don’t make any money. It is their civic duty. RowVenice.org is a nonprofit organization with a mission of teaching women how to row and to break down the barriers for the entry of women into the ranks of male gondoliers. We actually rowed out into the Grand Canal in these boats that were quite the size and shape of gondolas but close enough to give us a good taste. A brilliant day with sun and blue skies and not too warm. We took turns with the front rowing position, standing of course and our most intrepid rower was our oldest lady, 82 years old! She took the rear standing position and had excellent balance. She is my heroine. A wonderful morning and we ended with a stop for cicchetti and Prosecco, a welcome treat. Also visited a Squero, sort of a warehouse for old boats and their gear. Venice used to have many but now only 4 still exist.

Posted by
2058 posts

On 09/01 - after the rowing morning, 4 of us took the vaporetto to the Dorsoduro area and toured the Peggy Guggenheim Collection which took about an hour. I like modern art and consider her story interesting, we also enjoyed the garden. I took a few pictures, especially the headstone for her beloved 14 dogs.

Our final dinner was in a small restaurant near the hotel with delicious food and wine. The whole tour felt like a celebration and this last gathering was a little sad for me but also I was happy to be going home.

Some folks are staying longer in Venice, some are traveling to other parts of Europe or Italy. We are staying an extra day because we bought a ticket to a film at the Venice Film Festival on the Lido. It’s a beautiful beach town with a resort feel to it. After the film in the afternoon, we took the vaporetto back to St. Mark’s Square and had a small salad to eat. We had tickets to the Four Seasons concert in Vivaldi’s Church, Chiesa Della Pieta. A beautiful performance of the entire Four Seasons by musicians dressed in black and white, not period costume. A great ending to a magical Venetian vacation.

On 09/03 - flight home was smooth. A tour mate’s flight was changed by Delta to the next day, the day we were leaving, and our same flight. We told her she had a ride with us to the airport. She just had to arrange another night with the hotel and all worked out in the end. It’s common now for flights to be cancelled by the airlines as you all know.

Posted by
1740 posts

I have loved this trip report! It sounds like absolutely the best way to enjoy Venice. Your chef's name was probably Michele (pronounced Mee-kay'-lay). Glad you're home safely.

Posted by
2058 posts

Final thoughts - if I’m asked if the anxiety and extra efforts to take this trip were worth it, I say 100%. Life is short, I lost 18 months of travel and no one knows how much time we have left. I’m so happy I decided to take a chance and go mid-pandemic. I wear a mask when I’m in public and follow social distancing here at home, and thought I would feel safer in Italy and enjoy being there more because it’s ITALY! I believe I managed the risks well and did everything I could to remain healthy.

The entrance requirement for Italy has already changed since I’ve come home, you now need a negative test result within 72 hours as well as being fully vaccinated upon arrival.

Sarah’s version of slow travel with a small group fits our times I think. It’s not for first time visitors to Europe who want to see all the blockbuster sights. I liked the camaraderie with my tour mates and made some new friends.

I’m booked for a RS tour next year and also like to travel independently, so I don’t believe in only one way to travel.

It was a good time to go because of the lighter crowds and the weather turned out to be a stretch of brilliant blue skies and temperatures in the 70’s.

Thanks for reading my report! I hope all your travel dreams come true.

Posted by
959 posts

Thanks for this inspiring trip report, Judy! Hoping to travel in your footsteps next spring.

Posted by
343 posts

You wrote a great report, Judy, of a wonderful trip. Many thanks for sharing it with us. The 2 nights I’ve spent in Venice aren’t even enough to scratch the surface. Hope to get back someday.

Posted by
2058 posts

Luv2Travel,
I totally agree, 2 nights in Venice are not enough. I hope to return for another week sometime and want to add a week in Florence, too.
So much to explore and discover! I’m glad you enjoyed my report.

Debbie,
You will love your trip next spring, it may not include rowing lessons because of the cold. But Sarah will have something else to delight you.

Janet, Pam, Patricia and others, thanks for reading.

Jane, yes, RS has only 4 week city tours and I hope he might announce some in 2023.

Venice is one of my very favorite places!

Posted by
48 posts

Sounds like such an amazing trip! Thank you for sharing the details of your experience, and especially your final thoughts. So glad it was 100% worth it!

Posted by
1645 posts

We had four nights in Venice not nine. You did many things I thought about doing. We will have to return....

Posted by
2058 posts

Some stray thoughts about Venice -
It is entirely a pedestrian zone, no cars and no loud motors. La Serenissima is a place to relax and to slow down and savor life. La Dolce Vita.

I used 5 different water conveyances to get around Venice:
1. water taxi from the airport directly to the boat dock of my hotel
2. Our tour had a private boat to tour the Grand Canal for an hour or so
3. Our tour went on a gondola ride with a singer and guitarist
4. I had a vaporetto pass which is like the bus only on water
5. I took a Traghetto twice, it takes you directly across the Grand Canal from one side to the other. Only costs 2€. The gondoliers are required as part of their civic duty to man the boats and there are only 3 stops in all of Venice. I think I already said this earlier.

I’m reading a book about how Venice was built and, in it, the author says there are 438 bridges in Venice, including 90 private ones. The city is a giant stairmaster, as every bridge has steps going up one side and steps going down the other. Whenever you walk somewhere, you are traversing 3, 4 or 5 bridges and toning your leg muscles and burning calories. And then you have to walk back, going over the same bridges. All good for eating gelato. Also, there used to be 200 churches, now 120.

Hope you are able to visit this dream place!

Posted by
959 posts

What is the book, Judy? I love the stairmaster imagery.

Posted by
2058 posts

Thanks, Debbie. I think my legs are more toned after my stairmaster week in Venice, another reason to visit!

How Was Venice Built? By Giovanni Distefano, a little book I found in the bookstore in the Doges Palace. It’s written in English, 53 pages.

Posted by
4643 posts

Hi Judy,

Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip adventures!

What’s the name of the hotel where you stayed?

Will you please share how you found out about Sarah’s tour, thanks!

Posted by
2058 posts

We stayed at the Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo in the Santa Croce Sestiere. We loved staying here and the residential neighborhood. Sarah’s website is adventureswithSarah.net. You will find her tours there. I have already signed up for the Staycation in Florence next year!

Posted by
2075 posts

Enjoyed your report! Did you order the Binax test online? Can you post a link? Or did you buy at pharmacy?

Posted by
4939 posts

Judy B, that's the hotel Stan and I have booked for a few days next May. It was highly recommended by Allan on this Forum.

Posted by
2058 posts

Tammy,
https://store.optum.com/search?term=binaxNOW&productType=otc&limit=12

I copied this link to Optum.com where I ordered my test kits, 3 for $99. EMed.com seems to only offer the option of 6 kits for $150.

Easy to use, watch the video and follow the instructions to a “t”. Also, keep in mind the test has an expiration date. Mine was purchased in August and the expiration was October 28. I sold my 2 extra kits to another tourmate.

Some of our tour members waited in long lines in the sun at the train station in Venice.

I was impressed with how carefully the tests were wrapped and packaged to withstand possible rain or other disruptions in transit. And, they arrived in 2 or 3 days.

Posted by
2058 posts

Jane,
You will love this hotel, its amenities, its location and its staff! I would stay there again in a heartbeat.

Posted by
4643 posts

Hi Judy,

Thanks for sharing the name of the hotel where you stayed. I checked it out and it looks great!
And for Sarah’s website. I will definitely check out her tours.

One more thing. Please share the name of “the small restaurant near the hotel” where you enjoyed your last dinner at the end of your tour, thanks!

And lastly, the name of the gelato shop?🍦

Thanks a bunch!

Posted by
4939 posts

Ditto on the name of the small restaurant near the hotel. We're getting into Venice on a Saturday evening, and I'd like to have reservations made for dinner that night.

And thanks!

Posted by
2058 posts

Priscilla,
The gelato shop was: gelato di natura at CAMPO San Giacomo DELL’ORIO. It’s on the way to the Campo from our hotel. You can’t miss it. The most delicious gelato!

Priscilla and Jane,
The restaurant for our final dinner was at a little place called Muro. I don’t know the address but I glimpsed the name of it on the awning before we went in. Delicious food!

Enjoy your stay in Venice.

A friend just lent me a nonfiction book about Venice by John Berendt, The City of Falling Angels. It’s about the fire that destroyed La Fenice Opera House in 1996 and it’s rebuilding. I highly recommend it, I’m fascinated by Venice and I’m learning about the residents and contemporary life there.

Posted by
4939 posts

I read "The City of Falling Angels" last fall. It's full of quirky Venetian characters and recent history. Well worth a look.

And thanks for the restaurant name. I'll look it up. Allan had also mentioned a very good place quite near the hotel, so I'll check back with him, as well. I think it might have been the same place.

We're not going until May, but of course I'm already checking out activities and places to eat.

Posted by
3254 posts

Judy B- I have been following your thread and taking notes/bookmarking for next time. We just have to go back and continue my husbands ancestral research in Venice, Lido Cemetery, the Ghetto and a side trip to Bassano del Grappa for further family history.
Thanks for the added hotel & restaurant suggestion! Your hotel reminded us of Hotel Flora with the charming courtyard!

Posted by
1740 posts

I never read mysteries until a friend who knew I loved Italy recommended Donna Leon's Death at La Fenice. That hooked me! I've read the entire series and love tracing Commissario Brunetti's routes through the city.

Posted by
959 posts

@Janet

Hi. Last time I was in Venice, a friend and I went on the hunt for Brunetti's Questura. First, we found the station of the the Carabinieri, Brunetti's rival law enforcement unit. The man on duty laughed when we told him what we wanted and pointed down a canal towards the Questura. My friend went in and asked if we were permitted to take photos of the outside. Again, the duty officer thought this a hoot. Clearly, they know who Brunetti is and have encountered crazed Americans (or Germans) looking for signs of him in Venice. Though silly, it was lots of fun - and fun to find a friend on my tour who shared the same interest!

Posted by
2058 posts

Debbie and Janet, when I finish The City of Falling Angels, I must read Donna Leon’s La Fenice. It is only appropriate! What fun to try tracking down Brunetti and asking the local Carabinieri for help! It will be more fun to read her books now that I have spent time there. I have only read one or two of her books. Now to the library to put them on hold.

Posted by
4643 posts

Hi Judy,

Thanks for the gelato & restaurant recommendations!

I’ve bookmarked your post for future reference.
Hopefully I’ll be able to return to Italy in the next year or two ; )

Posted by
2199 posts

I read "The City of Falling Angels" last fall. It's full of quirky
Venetian characters and recent history. Well worth a look.

And thanks for the restaurant name. I'll look it up. Allan had also
mentioned a very good place quite near the hotel, so I'll check back
with him, as well. I think it might have been the same place.

I believe the restaurant I recommended was La Patatina di San Giacomo.

I read The City of Falling Angels after I got back from Venice. I loved it. There are stories about Venetian bureaucracy that came to life for me thanks to conversations I had with the owner of Hotel Mocenigo and the hoops he had to jump through to renovate the building to turn it into a hotel.

Posted by
3254 posts

In addition to the great books mentioned up thread, I recommend “Venice” by Jan Morris and my husband’s favorites are the thrillers by Phillip Gwynne Jones. 5 in the series.

Posted by
4939 posts

Allan, you are correct about La Patatina. Their internet sites are very similar, both being (evidently) small local chains.

Janis, I haven't been able to find those books at our local libraries or used book stores. I guess I'll try interlibrary loan next. I have read several other books by Jan Morris, and loved them.

Posted by
2058 posts

Janis,
My local library doesn’t have books by Philip Gwynne Jones but they are available in paperback on Amazon. I will see if inter-library loan will work.
I will put Venice by Jan Morris on hold at the library. Lots of good reading!

Posted by
952 posts

Judy, WOOT! What a fantastic tour opportunity. I'm so glad you had such a great time in Venice. Florence and Rome were our favorite places on the 21 day tour and we both wished for more time in each so I know you will have just as much fun on your next tour. Thanks so much for sharing.

Posted by
2058 posts

Hi Nance,
After this wonderful time in Venice, I’m excited I will be going to Florence in March for another Staycation and adding 4 days before the tour and 2 days post tour!
I have done the fantastic RS 7 Days Best of Rome tour so I will have the 3 major cities in Italy under my belt. What a privilege to travel! When I finish reading some of the books on Venice, I will need reading material for Florence.

By the way, are you going to Poland? I remember a bunch of us were signed up for Rick’s first Poland tour that didn’t happen in 2020. I would still like to go when I can fit it on my schedule.

Posted by
952 posts

Hey Judy - we are wait listed for the Poland tour date of our choice. Our friends got signed up for it but minutes later it was full. We had planned to strike out on our own after the tour and visit a few other countries in the region but now I'm not sure I want the additional hassle of fooling with different covid regulations. Feelings are mixed on that. Hubby would be happy to go along with anything I decide so there's still time.

Looking back, this is what I had to say about Florence, and here's a link to the menu at Osteria Pastella where we enjoyed the homemade pasta and beef steak. It appears the menu changes some. I think that's a good thing.

"Florence: One of my favorite cities on the tour. Lovely walking, leather market, neat indoor market of meats, veggies, small stand-up restaurants, bakeries down same street as leather market. Group dinner here was outstanding!
Free time: Museo Galileo.
Own dinner: Osteria Pastella almost across the street from our hotel. 3 of us shared a 1.3 kg 4 inch thick t-bone steak roast for 44e. They make their own pasta in the front window - fresh when you order! Nice little bar across the street for music and cocktails.
Hotel room was huge - at least 16x20 with a decent bath. Hint: In rooms that have locking shutters hang your clothes to dry between the shutter and the window!"

The Fork - Osteria Pastella menu

They also have a fb and Instagram page.

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2058 posts

Nance,
I’m saving this information for my Florence trip, the restaurant sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing.

I’m actually waitlisted for the Poland tour, too. I am booked for the Scandinavia tour and thought I might go to Poland if a spot opens up. I’m not sure I will do back to back tours, it would mean being away a month.

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2976 posts

Judy,

My life finally slowed down enough to read your trip report. I really enjoyed it. I feel privileged to have seen the video of the square where you relaxed at night. It was great... reminded me of a square in the Oltrarno district of Florence where a friend and I would hang out at night -- don't remember the name of it, though. Thanks again for a great trip report -- I love being able to read these again!

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2058 posts

Dave,
I’m glad you enjoyed my report. I hope we have a hotel in Florence that is near a neighborhood square where we can hang out after a busy day. The only time I stayed in Florence our hotel had a rooftop terrace where we would go in the evening for sunset and cocktails. Lovely views.

You are right about being happy to read trip reports again, several are currently being posted. I look forward to reading yours.

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20 posts

Judy B,
Thank you for the trip report.
How would you describe the pace of the tour and the amount of walking during tour time? Any early (pre-8am) starts? Was the "buddy system" used? When you took the private boat/gondola rides with the tour, was it easy to get on and off? I am sorry to ask you so many questions, but I am considering booking this trip and it is invaluable to get the perspective of someone who actually took the tour. Thank you again.

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2058 posts

Gina,
The walking pace was moderate I felt, but I’m a 3 mile a day walker. There are a lot of stairs on every bridge and remember there are 438 bridges in Venice. Even though you won’t be crossing every bridge it is like a giant stairmaster because you cross 4 or 5 bridges whenever you go somewhere and then you cross those same bridges on your way back home. It’s good for toning your legs, giving you a headstart on calories you will consume in gelato.
I believe 8:30 am was the earliest start time and a couple mornings it was 9 or 9:30 am. There is no need for a buddy system as there were only 12 of us. I assume from your question you are a RS alumna?

Getting into and out of all the boats is a little wobbly sometimes but the drivers always give a helping hand. Definitely not a problem if you have fairly good balance.
It is a wonderful tour! Enjoy.

Posted by
12950 posts

Re: Brunetti’s and the Questura. If you search for Brunetti’s Questura” on Google maps, it will take you to the locale used in the German TV series.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Brunetti/@45.4380002,12.3473642,3a,75y,116.14h,84.1t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sQ7rpCzi6ARSElIoxWVTcxw!2e0!6shttps:%2F%2Fstreetviewpixels-pa.googleapis.com%2Fv1%2Fthumbnail%3Fpanoid%3DQ7rpCzi6ARSElIoxWVTcxw%26cb_client%3Dsearch.gws-prod.gps%26w%3D86%26h%3D86%26yaw%3D74.25425%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656!4m9!1m2!2m1!1sBrunetti's+Questura+Venice!3m5!1s0x477eaf2956a02953:0xf39d7a5ff31714b!8m2!3d45.4380571!4d12.3476515!15sChpCcnVuZXR0aSdzIFF1ZXN0dXJhIFZlbmljZZIBG2Fzc29jaWF0aW9uX29yX29yZ2FuaXphdGlvbg

But the Questura in the Donna Leon books is on Rio de San Lorenzo, here:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/State+Police/@45.4369378,12.3441187,72m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m12!1m6!3m5!1s0x477eae2708dbe0d7:0xe5025dde2cad9858!2sState+Police!8m2!3d45.4367938!4d12.3442218!3m4!1s0x477eae2708dbe0d7:0xe5025dde2cad9858!8m2!3d45.4367938!4d12.3442218

You can recognize it from the description of his routes to the Questura and the bar nearby, where he stops occasionally for a coffee or a few tramezzini. When we were there for a month in 2013, there were often a few Germans, Brits, or Aussies outside taking photos of the entrance. This location is the one that Apple Maps used to show for Brunetti’s Questura, and the one shown on maps in a few of the books.

Speaking of walks, there is a book on Brunetti’s Walks which takes you to many of the places around the city that are featured in the books. We never did find the flower shop where Signorina Electra buys her flowers, however.

https://www.amazon.com/Brunettis-Venice-Walks-Best-Loved-Detective/dp/0802144373

We like this book a lot—-much more than the Brunetti’s cookbook filled with Paola’s recipes.

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959 posts

Thanks for the follow-up, Lola. I will check out the book. My adventure was before I even knew there was a television show, and my directions came from locals based mostly on questions re where is the Questura? Brunetti came into the conversation at the end, but I never even thought to use google maps at the time. I hope to repeat this adventure next time I am in Venice and will go well-armed thanks to your info.

BTW, the television show has some stunning settings that I would love to locate. But, since I am pretty hooked on the books, I found Brunetti's balcony which appeared to overlook the Grand Canal (in the show) a bit of a jarring discrepancy.

Thanks, again!