A Snapshot of Venice...
Happy New Year friends!! I can't believe we are already six days into the New Year...and it's taken me this long to post. As many of you all know from Instagram I've been in Italy the past week. (I know you must feel really, really sorry for me!) After a very deadline-driven 2014, Brandon and I decided to take the first few weeks of the year to simply live in the present. To rediscover some of our favorite things: reading, cooking (and eating!), traveling and exploring, and to spend some quality time with each other. And I'm pretty sure there's no better place to re-learn to live in the present than Italy!
First stop on the trip was Venice, which, I'm convinced is pretty much the most beautiful city on the planet. The architecture, the canals, the boats, the tiny bridges and even tinier streets was everything I had imagined. This was my first time to Venice, and I am so glad I visited in the winter. I've heard horror stories of summer there: packed with tourists, hot, smelly, and mosquito-ridden. I'm not sure how much of that is true, but Venice in late December/early January is pure magic. The days are short, but the light is beautiful, and wandering around Venice at night, by glowing lamplight, is so romantic. Though it's bone-chillingly cold (which makes ducking into cafes for a "vin brule" or hot chocolate every few hours a necessity), it's worth it: once you get off the main touristy streets near Rialto and Piazzo San Marco, the city is practically deserted.
Though I'm in the process of putting together a little Venice guide of all my favorite spots, my main advice for anyone going to Venice is this: get lost. Wander. Don't take a map, and once you've seen Piazza San Marco, stay away from the tacky tourist spots and head north: to Santa Croce, to Cannareggio, or south to the island of Giudecca. Stroll the beautiful Mercato in the early morning and watch the fisherman unloading their fresh catches.
Pop into some of the many little bars in the city and order a little glass of Prosecco at the bar and some cichetti – Venetian snacks like tiny polpette (fried meatballs) or sarde e saur ("sweet and sour sardines" with sautéed onions, pine nuts, and raisins), or crostini with bacalao (dried, salted cod that's been whipped with olive oil into a creamy spread). You can have a glass or two of wine, and several little snacks for under 10 Euros! Then walk some more...you'll feel like you're walking around a movie set, wandering through deserted cobblestoned streets and along winding canals without a person in sight.
My other main piece of advice would be to stay at the amazing Cima Rosa B&B. Owned by a dynamic husband-wife duo (Brittany's American, Daniele's Venetian), they renovated a stunning 15th century palazzo on the Grand Canal with just five rooms. It's totally private: tucked off a little alleyway, behind a big gate, and through a garden...you feel more like you're visiting posh friends than staying at a hotel.
They were wonderful – we enjoyed a delicious breakfast there every day, hot tea and cookies every afternoon, and there was a bottle of Prosecco awaiting our arrival. And, Brittany gave us restaurant recommendations and all sorts of great suggestions on what to do during our stay. I'll give you more details about Cima Rosa in an upcoming post, but I truly cannot recommend them highly enough.
Stay tuned for the Venice guide in a few days, but for now, I hope that this post has at least given your imagination a little room to wander in the midst of a busy workday...