Monday September 27
On Monday we departed by train for Venice which is a 4 hour trip from Rome. The train was a great way to cross the country and avoid Italian drivers! We arrived at the train station and as there are no cars in Venice you must take the vaperatto (water bus) to your stop and then try and find your hotel. My tour book said that generally you will be lost in Venice at some point so thought I would get it over with and get us lost as soon as we got off the vaperatto. Success!
We finally found our hotel, Hotel Bloom, which was very charming and had a roof top terrace. The accommodations were gorgeous and lived up to the pictures on the website plus they included a bottle of prosecco so I was sold immediately. The breakfast was the best of our trip and the café latte was just delicious. http://www.bloom-venice.com/
We spent our first day exploring (aka lost) when G finally took the helm on directions. We accidentally found the Teatro de la Fenice while lost and also had an $87 Euro snack (4 beers, some cheese and a plate of calamari – gulp). G also took the initiative to buy ballet tickets for the following evening since we were in the neighborhood. Some shopping, dinner and to early to bed to get a start on seeing the sites on Tuesday.
Tuesday September 28
We visited the Doges Palace, or the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia, located on Piazzo San Marco which is a massive palace and took nearly 3 hours to see. The Doge was the chief magistrate and leader of the Venice for over a thousand years. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state's aristocracy. Commonly the person selected as Doge was the shrewdest elder in the city. (Wikipedia!) It was an odd system of government as I remember mention the Doge actually could not leave the palace and could not vote on any government matter, just advise.
After our grueling touring we went to lunch at Osteria Oliva Nero, http://www.osteria-olivanera.com/, and had a most fabulous meal. We had not prebooked to warn them of our gluten free diets but the owner was very accommodating and created the most scrumptious caprese salads for my mother and I. The men had freshly made pasta and looked as though they enjoyed it immensely. Mom and I also went berserk and ordered panna cotta for dessert as my Access guide described it as to die for. IT WAS! My mother enjoyed it so much she and Dad went back for dinner and she had it again! Naughty!
That evening, while Mom was feasting on a second panna cotta, G and attended the Tod in Venedig performed by the Hamburg Ballet at the Teatro de la Fenice. The theater was just lovely and we had exquisite seats in the Royal box. G treats me right! The performance was fantastic and more modern in feel than I was expecting. It was extremely memorable to see such a quality performance in such historic setting.
Wednesday September 29
We had been eyeing posters for a contemporary glass exhibit which finally drew us in on Wednesday morning. We decided to forgo a trip to Murano and see the exhibit and it was very interesting. Modern and experimental glass works were displayed in a gorgeous mansion creating a juxtaposition between old and new. The group promoting the show has a mission to market glass as an art medium and the chosen works and artists were outstanding.
In the afternoon I convinced everyone to visit the Guggenheim Venice. The late Peggy Guggenheim purchased a palazzo in Venice and lived there surrounded by her art, Max Ernest, Picasso, Chagall and more. She left the home in her will to be turned into a Museum. Photos of the heiress in her home surrounded by the art were very interesting to see – what a beautiful life! We all really enjoyed our visit and recommend you see it when you are in Venice.
We had a lovely dinner a la terrace of a restaurant recommended by the owner of Osteria Oliva Nero which was nice but no panna cotta. Drat.
Thursday September 30
Our last day, we rented a car and drove into Veneto to do some wine tasting in Soave and Valpollicello. We went to Pieropan in Soave and had a lovely tasting and viewed their grape drying process - they make a sweet dessert wine that I loved as it had this amazing burnt carmel almond flavor. I really must find it as it was uitstekand (outstanding in Dutch).
We had lunch next to the winery at a fabulous little spot, Enoteca Drago, where I must rave about the beautiful little polenta cakes. My mother kept trying to steal them off my plate that witch! The soave was divine with the polenta cakes and cured meats – a heavenly little lunch for under $10 Euro.
We then visited two red wine producers, Tedeschi and Quirindella. Absolutely fab! Quirindella was my favorite as we enjoyed our wines with the wine maker herself. She served us a $250 Euro bottle to taste which was outstanding - needless to say we couldn't afford that one but we did buy one named after her father - Bepi - his nickname for a mere $75 Euro. We will save it for a special occassion - or this Friday which ever!
We concluded our day and drove to Vincenza which is a really impressive small city. Our hotel was well situated in the center and we were able to walk in and explore in this Unesco World Heritage site on Friday am before departing for the airport. I really loved the architecture which was essentially the life work of one man, Andrea Palladino. Our time was too brief and I hope that we will go back one day, perhaps when we visit the lakes area in the North of Italy?