Tuesday

My Venice...part 1

29 was a good year for me, one of unforgettable memories and a lot of fun...I was creeping up to my 30th with slight dread. A bucket list trip was booked to lighten the blow and Venice has been a place high up on Mr D and I's 'must do' for a good few years.

We landed early Thursday morning to gorgeous sunny skies and that lovely September heat us Londoners seem to have forgotten we usually have. Zooming from the water taxi station up the Grand Canal we were greeted by our Air B and B host and taken to our rather plush NYC loft style apartment with an unrivalled view of the canal and Gondolas literally passing by our kitchen window...

If you're a fan of tapas style food or love the Polpo chain then do as the locals do eating little and often throughout the day for very little money...I did A LOT of research beforehand...
Day one saw us getting our bearings. Our flat was conveniently located off a very quiet street near the hideously heaving Piazza San Marco which meant we were incredibly central but, there's next to nothing of decent eateries nearby.
Up at the crack of dawn meant our tummies were rumbling by 11am walking over the Rialto Bridge (hellishly busy) we stopped off at Al Merca (above pics and below) where locals grab a quick bite of a small sandwich stuffed with delicious meat, fish or cheese for around €1-3 and my first Aperol Spritz of the day. Two bites and a glass for two came to just under €10...

All' Arco (which is infamous for Cicchetti) is about a 3 min walk from the above. A mixed plate of their delicious goodies, the baccala which is a creamed salt cod, a Venetian delicacy, here is a must. Hams and cheeses are served on top of thinly sliced crisp bread. A beer, more Spritz and a plate of six cicchetti and some octopus came in at €12. Be warned however, it is popular and therefore expect to queue for lunch and stand to eat (there are no tables which you'll find is very common).


Next stop was some much needed sweetener after all the savoury and Gelateria Nico serves up some of the best Italian gelato on the island and this was indeed an incredible example of delicious pistachio ice cream (€2) with a view to match...
After a good wander and finding ourselves at Galleria Accademia it was time for home and a power nap before supper. Post-work and pre-prandial Venetians head out for Spritz, good wine and cicchetti (naturally, we did just this). Osteria alla ciurma which again is close to the most of the above was a favourite of ours the place has a wonderful atmosphere and Marco the owner is incredibly accommodating and his calamari and the rest of his snacks or, 'my babies' as he calls them are a must! 

Supper was booked through our host as we wanted somewhere close by on the first evening and she picked a pretty local restaurant right by us, in a quiet back street where was ate stuffed courgette flowers, vongole, cuttle fish on polenta (common in Venice) and a delicious rare tuna dish... all so simple yet incredibly tasty and indeed very, very fresh.  It seemingly catered well for overseas visitors but at the same time was packed with Italians which, without recommendation I probably wouldn't have visited but, it was just what we needed - easy, close and welcoming! 
End of a wonderful and looonnnggg day 1... Venice you've captured my heart in 12 hours but, there's more to follow... 

Websites/links for the above:

Al Merca - HERE
All Arco - HERE
Gelateria Nico - HERE
Osteria Alla Cuirma - HERE
Da Mario Alla Fava - HERE and WEBSITE

Lastly... A few do's and dont's that I wish I had known or, were good advice given to me pre-trip...

Venice do's:

- pack REALLY comfortable shoes...girls leave the heels at home,you won't wear them - we were averaging 10-14k a day!
- bring cash (a lot of places don't take cards)
- buy mosquito repellent (I learnt the hard way!)
- have patience...you will get lost! But, embrace it. Put the map down and enjoy wandering off the beaten track, you'll find some hidden gems.
- speak to friends for recommendations. We ate in some incredible places that you wouldn't necessarily get to experience otherwise.
- cicchetti and prosecco 'extra' is a must and acceptable from 10/11am - perfect!!
- guide book - Time Out was by far the one we found to be the most helpful and most 'us' as far as places recommended. 

Venice dont's:

- eat breakfast!! As Russell Norman says, 'in Venice, breakfast is for whimps...' Instead, work up an appetite walking around and pop into enotecas and Osterias for nibbles en route to places. 
- head to top attractions early in the morning (they don't open usually before 10).
- eat early - there's not a lot going on past 10/11pm apart from restaurants.
- expect good pizza (it's Venetian food here and Pizza is only here for tourists!) a good point well made by many when researching and one to abide by...
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