Tag Archives: Italy

Going, Going, Gondola!

Our first and only night in Venice passed by much too quickly.

So the following morning I was on a mission to see as much of the city as possible before our evening flight.

With the shops and narrow streets clogged with tourists fresh off the cruise ships, we dodged down an empty stone passage and swiftly took to the canal!

Venice Emilio Ceccato

Venice Foot bridge

Venice Waiting for Gondola

Leaning out over the water, we hailed a passing gondola. Once aboard, it was evident there is no better way to experience the enchantment of Venice.

Venice Hat

Venice Waiting Turned

Our wizened tour guide was proud to come from a family of gondoliers. His licence was passed down to him from his grandfather, and eventually he will bequeath it to his son-in-law. He pointed out significant buildings, and poetically lamented the current economic and political state of Italy. It was so romantic listening to him orate behind us while we canoodled in our loveseat, watching antiquity float past just beyond the lacquered edge of the boat.

Gondola View

Gondola Looking Up

Gondola POV

Gondolier

Bauer Plaza

Bauer Plaza ?

We stopped at the Bauer hotel to pick up friends on our way to lunch. The terrace was an absolute dream, and we couldn’t resist a glass of prosecco under the scarlet canopy overlooking St Marks.

Day 2 Venice Chelsea

Bauer Masks

Bauer Terrace

After our pre-lunch aperitivos, we boarded a taxi to the restaurant.

Bauer Taxi

“Harry’s Dolci” is located on Lido island with a terrace that looks back onto the hem of Venice.

Seated at our table, covered in crisp robin egg blue linen, we ordered a round of Cipriani’s famous bellinis and set to work translating the all-Italian menu.

Day 2 Harry's View

Day 2 Venice Harry's Boys

Bauer Menu

Can we just go back to the bellinis, though? Pureed white peaches and prosecco… So exquisite I was rendered totally silent.

Our server made some astute recommendations from the menu, and before long he was back at our table flourishing an array of dishes before us.

Day 2 Venice Cipriani Tray

Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna sauce)

Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna sauce)

Day 2 Harry's Table Passing

Harrys Tray

Day 2 Venice Smiles

Day 2 Harry's Squid Ink Pasta

Squid Ink Pasta

Squid Ink Pasta

Veal Ragu

Veal Ragu

Sole

Sole

 

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi

A blissfully mellow last meal in Venice! We idled over coffees and dainty glasses of grappa, trying to delay our inevitable return trip to the airport.

Day 2 Harry's Table Smile

Day 2 Harry's Table

Day 2 Venice Table Done

Day 2 Harry's Mask View

After a while, our taxi arrived and we reluctantly (but happily) climbed aboard and scuttered toward the departures gate.

Day 2 Taxi

Day 2 Venice Boat

Day 2 Venice Cigar Shades Smile

Day 2 Venice Cigar

Day 2 Olivia

Day 2 Venice Boat Hug

Day 2 Venice Z Final

Venice, it was a whirlwind – but an absolute pleasure!

Anyone for Venice?

We got stuck in Italy this weekend!

We were in Trieste to attend a wedding, only to find out our return flight had been cancelled. Forcing us to stay another night.

I know… tragic, isn’t it?

We had some other friends booked on the same cancelled flight, so we asked around if anyone fancied a whirlwind night in Venice.

Unsurprisingly, they all did!

So we chartered a private speedboat together and sped into the heart of Venice.

Venice Boat

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Venice Boat Chels

Venezia is actually made up of many tiny islands, connected by over 400 bridges and a complex network of murky canals.

As we skimmed over the water past the walls of the city’s perimeter we all caught our breath, gaping at the scene around us.

Venice Boat Canal

Venice Boats

History soundlessly seeped from between the bricks of buildings, some over 900 years old.

B Venice 900 Year Old

When we rounded a bend and coasted into the main thoroughfare of the Grand Canal, it was one of those rare travel moments when a faint shiver set my hairs standing on end.

The scale and faded grandeur of the architecture booming down upon us was staggering.

Venice Boat Grand Canal

B Venice Buildings

The watertaxi dropped us at our hotel, and we clambered onto the dry decked landing of Palazzo Barbarigo, holding onto the striped mooring poles for balance.

Venice Barbaregio Entrance

Promptly checked in, we bounded up the dark wooden staircase to our room. When it comes to interior design, Italians don’t do understated. They do heavy, sumptuous, borderline chintzy.

Gleaming inky parquet floors, tufted velvet, textured brocade, and even a pair of feather-trimmed lamps constituted an asthetic I can only describe as “Venetian boudoir kitsch.” Which we instantly loved, because even holed up in a hotel room we felt positively, authentically in Italy!

Venice Barbaregio Room

Venice Barbaregio Lamp

And the view from our room was this…

Venice Barbaregio Room View Grand Canal

As easily as I could have perched on the windowsill all evening watching gondolas manoeuvre along the waterway, it didn’t outweigh my need to wander!

So we slipped out the back of the hotel and padded down the narrow labyrinth of lurching alleys to explore on foot.

Venice Canal

Venice Cancal Bridge

 

Venice Husband

View from Rialto Bridge

View from Rialto Bridge

Venice Gondola

Venice Standing by Gondola

Venice Gondola Portrait

B Venice Signs

Venice Bridge Us

We spent the ebbing twilight hours roaming the ancient streets, crossing various bridges (island-hopping, so to speak) and popping in and out of shops. I suffered a minor wardrobe malfunction when one of my sandals broke on a tricky step, but thankfully there was a shoe store within hobbling distance!

The holiday must go on…

Roman Times

If there’s anything I love more than brunch, it’s a foreign city’s regional take on brunch. In Rome, there’s a place called Urbana 47 that has a multo bene 4-course special on weekends with a distinctly Italian twist.

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Brunch2

They start you off with a cheesy mozzarella wrap that is just the type of thing you’d reach for on the morning after the night before – followed by a ladle of pumpkin pasta in a beef ragout. Mamma mia! This duo of carbs is a hangover cure that doesn’t mess around!

Mozzarella and vegetable wrap with spicy tomato salsa

Mozzarella and vegetable wrap with spicy tomato salsa

Homemade pumpkin fettuccine pasta with beef ragout, mint and pecorino

Homemade pumpkin fettuccine pasta with beef ragout, mint and pecorino

Beef on a spit with caponata mixed vegetables

Beef on a spit with caponata mixed vegetables

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Brunch13

Afters, we trudged over to St Peters where crews were setting up chairs for mass. I mingled with the pilgrims and wandered around the basilica for a bit. What a fascinating place. You could feel the power and influence throbbing off the walls of the place – like little electric waves. It was almost more intimidating than it was spiritual. I felt a bit like a pilgrim myself…

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After all that piety, it was time for a refreshing dash in the rain back to headquarters – to rest up, watch Flashdance, and get ready for the night!StP11 River River1

That evening we dolled ourselves up, donned our LBDs, and headed out for drinks at the infamous Hotel de Russie.

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Everyone warned us Bar Stravinskij is dreadful. But we weren’t deterred; we had a feeling its glossy reputation as the place VIPs and politicians came to not lay low would verify its status as of one of the most iconic bars in Rome. Located in the courtyard gardens of Hotel de Russie, complete with Roman ruins and views of Villa Borghese, this place was indeed a society hotspot. The room fizzed with activity, like the bubbles in our champagne flutes. With Kevin Spacey wooing his Italian toyboy on one side of us, and a pair of blond women of ill repute in platform boots chatting up a potential john on the other, the people-watching was hilarious. We spent two hours in a perpetual fit of giggles.Night6 Night4 Night3

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After tittering the evening away, we cavorted off into the night in search of more amusement. Scuttling across the square, I took one last look back – and admired all the ancient beauty surrounding this crazy city! Vive la Roma!

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When In Rome, Beware of Romans

I’ll be honest. I got pickpocketed within hours of my first day in Rome. It was my fault; I had just overslept, burned my mouth gulping down a too-hot espresso, rushed out the door, and ran to barely catch the bus. I knew the thieves would be packed on there thick as.. well, thieves. I had absent-mindedly forgotten to guard my pockets – and the gypsy with the fake diamond earring behind me didn’t waste a second to slip his grubby mitts into my jacket and nick my phone.

When I disembarked at my stop and felt into my empty pocket, I had that sinking feeling of just being tagged “it” – or that final jump in a losing game of checkers – the sting of defeat. But after an instant, I brushed it off. It was only a mobile phone, I still had my wallet zipped securely in my purse. I was in Rome, standing on the slick centuries-old stones of the Colosseum. What could get you down, when you are looking up at this?

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I may have just been robbed, but my future was looking so bright I had to wear shades.
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enoteca8

After a morning stroll around the ruins, we went for lunch at this not-so-hidden gem overlooking Trajan’s Column. Enoteca Provincia Romana was a godsend, which sheltered us from the onset of rain showers – and had a stellar wine list to occupy us while we waited for the sky to clear.

Enoteca7 Enoteca1 Enoteca2

Cabbage flan with cheese fondue and crispy bacon

Cabbage flan with cheese fondue and crispy bacon

Ricotta and sour cherry tart

Ricotta and sour cherry tart

After lunch we marched deeper into the city, our boots clunking on the cobbled streets, until we rounded a corner and there was the Pantheon.

Panth Panth6 Panth2 Panth3 Panth5

Fountain

As night fell, we stopped for a bite to eat at a local cafe in the Monti district. At La Barrique, we shared a few dishes, shuffling the plates around the table, and swishing down a bottle of fine Italian wine.

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Chickpeas and sesame sauce with roasted octopus

Chickpeas and sesame sauce with roasted octopus

Spelt fettuccine in rabbit ragout, olives and fennel flowerheads

Spelt fettuccine in rabbit ragout, olives and fennel flowerheads

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Our next stop was a local place called Periodico. A coffee shop for brooding Roman hipsters by day, it morphs into a bar for brooding Roman hipsters at night. The shaggy-bearded bartender whipped us up a round of delicious iced ginger cocktails. They brought out my inner beatnik.
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We settled into a nubby sofa and chatted away until the lights came on. bar7 bar8 Night12 Night13More adventures tomorrow…

Ciao!