Venice, May 8, 2006

It was mostly cloudy when we got up about 8.  We went down for continental breakfast in the canal side cafe in the hotel.  Quite a few gondolas were tied up right next to the tables; & the gondoliers were polishing & getting ready for their day's work. 

It was about 9:30 by the time we headed out for the day. The little street (actually an alley) at the side of our hotel is a famous one. On the corner is Harry's Bar (home of the Bellini cocktail); & then down the whole street are stores for all the famous designers. They are small stores w/ very little merchandise. We purchased a 24 hr. pass to use the vaporetto (water buses). We headed toward the Realto Bridge to see the farmer's market before it closed.


We had so much fun oohing & ahhing over the beautiful vegetables, fruits, flowers & pastas.

Would you believe they have pasta in every color imaginable, shaped like gondolas, the  Rialto Bridge, Christmas trees, dollars signs; even penises!

And luscious looking gelato; which (believe it or not) we didn't even partake of once during this trip.

Katie shopped at a stall for some leather stuff.  I spotted some colorful Murano glass (cup shaped/pendant style) lamp shades.  The kind that drop down from long skinny cords from the ceiling.  They would be perfect over the bar; & I had to have them.

By now, we were loaded w/ shopping bags & needed to make a run back to the hotel.  It started spitting rain; so being able to hop on the vaporetto was a Godsend.  A quick look down the Grand Canal today reminded me that this is their main "highway"; & rush hour can be a bitch.  It's culture shock to see food delivery, ambulance service & fire patrol clogging the waterway.

After lightening our load, we got back on the vaporetto & headed to the Cannaregio section where the old Jewish Ghetto is located.  It's supposed to be where real Venetians live now.  We didn't wander very long because we weren't that impressed with what we were seeing.  We were starving; & started looking for lunch ideas.  We happened upon Brek Cafeteria at 2:30.  We picked out some prosciutto, mozzarella, a huge mixed salad, soup (w/ zucchini, barley, mushrooms & pumpkin) & rigatoni w/ zucchini.  We both ate some of each other's stuff.  Katie got a glass of nice house red wine for €1.  All this for less than €20.

We hopped on the vaporetto & traveled further down the Grand Canal to the Dorsoduro section.  I had read so much about Campo Santa Maria Margherita; & it didn't disappoint.  This is the largest square in all of Venice.  Churches, sidewalk cafes, neighborhood markets, people feeding pigeons, teenagers kicking soccer balls, kids on tricycles.  What a great place to people watch.

We sat & had latte & cappucino.  Leaving the campo & heading toward the water, we got lost again.  Even w/ a map there's so many tiny streets that aren't on the map.  We finally figured out that we should study the flow of pedestrian traffic & just follow them.  We found the water; but it wasn't the Grand Canal.  It was the Giudecca Canal.  It has a wide promenade that runs beside the water nearly the full length of the island.  It was starting to get darker & colder.  We were trying to find our way home when I spotted Billa Supermarket (a rarity in Venice, & one that I had heard good things about).  We had to go in & look around.

So much neat stuff.  Beautifully prepared foods, fresh breads, perfect veggies, unusual canned goods, cheeses, etc.

I spent a lot of time picking out the perfect pkg. of prosciutto.  Everything about it was interesting.  Katie wished we were in an apartment so she could cook.  It was even exciting standing in the check out line w/ all the "locals".  (Guess I'm easily amused.)

When we left there we walked across the width of the island of Dorsoduro to reach the Grand Canal.  We hopped back on the vaporetto; & 2 stops later we were back home.  We came in & changed into warmer clothes; & set out again about 8 searching for a pasta place for dinner.  We stopped & read a few menus.  We kept walking toward the sound of guitar music where we came upon Campo San Fantin.  There was a strolling musician playing; & the acoustics were unbelievable.

The menu at Ristorante al Theatro looked good to us, so we got a table outside.  At first we didn't realize that we were right next door to the famous LaFenice Opera House.  Katie had rock lobster bisque; & I ordered cream of asparagus soup.  Although both were water, mine was delicious.  Katie's wasn't that good. So we swapped.  I doctored hers up w/ parmesan cheese & lots of salt & pepper.  We shared a caprese salad (sliced tomatoes & mozzarella).  She had spaghetti w/ tomato & mozzarella.  I had a fabulous spaghetti carbonara.  She had a small bottle of chianti.  It was a great evening out.

On the stroll back to the hotel, we were admiring all the beautifully lit Murano mirrors & chandeliers in the shop windows.  We stepped into Piazza San Marco to see what was going on.  As always, 2 orchestras on either side compete for your attention.  There was a moderate size crowd for a Mon. night at 10.  When we got back to the hotel, we attempted to hook the camera up to the hotel's computer so we could preview our Venice pictures (hooking up to the TV didn't work).  We couldn't get it to work.  We'll just have to wait til we got back home to see what we got.  Finally to bed at 12:45.

No comments: