“If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you’ve imagined. Venice is — Venice is better”.
Never a truer word said. Having always wanted to go to Venice I never imagined how impressed I would be by this unique and historic city. Everywhere you go is simply beautiful. Sinking at 12cm per century I’d recommend going while you can. Of course, as well as the beautiful setting there was the obligatory food. As Client Services Director at the leading foodservice agency I can easily justify eating out as ‘research’, ensuring that I am in touch with different cuisines and food trends – it’s a tough job – but hey! So armed with professional interest as my excuse I ate my way around Venice. Here are some of the highlights…
Set on the banks of the Grand Canal it was our base for the week and also our first meal in the city and it did not disappoint. Fine dining at its best, the menu was fabulous, the highlight for me being the squid ink pasta and crab dish washed down with a rather nice red, not to mention the Negronis sipped as the sun set over the water and the gondolas glided by *sigh*. It was off to the roof top bar to see Venice at night – not a bad way to kick-off the holiday.
Having asked for recommends before we left, this was a restaurant which came highly recommended by Livvy (an ex-bean currently globetrotting). After trekking around the city we arrived somewhat under-dressed, but as we were walking past and starving hungry we thought – what the hell! The Caprese salad was superb and the spaghetti and pesto amazing. Thank you Livvy for sending us in their direction.
No trip to Venice is complete without a visit to the home of the Bellini. This unassuming and understated bar just around the corner from our hotel held an old school charm and it has to be said a rather delicious Bellini, served not in the traditional flute but instead in a small glass, which we enjoyed with some over-sized olives and nibbles. A very acceptable way to start the evening I must say.
If it’s good enough for George Clooney and Amal then it’s good enough for us. So we jetted across on our hotel launch to Hotel Cipriani where they stayed when they got married in Venice. Sampling a taste of how the other half live (and I aspire to live) we sipped cocktails named by George himself and relaxed overlooking one of the very few pools in Venice. For a few precious moments we pretended we were part of the ‘with yachts’ set and despite the price tag I have to say it was well worth it.
One of the many sites we visits which appeared in Bond films franchise (we also made it to Venini glass) the Gritti Palace overlooks the Grand Canal and has a rather stylish bar. As we sipped our Aperol Spritz and enjoyed the early evening light as it reflected off the water it was hard to think of a better way to spend cocktail hour.
We sought the advice of our concierge as to the best pizza in Venice and he, very politely and rightly, pointed out that if we wanted pizza we really should have headed to Naples or the Amalfi Coast (which we had done previously see this post). However, the good news was that there was a restaurant not far from our hotel in a delightful Campa (square) run by a native of Naples who made pizzas in the traditional way. So there we headed and they were indeed delicious and the setting added a certain something as we watched the world go by.
Tired from our sight-seeing pounding the cobbles we rested up in the shade to avoid the midday sun and sustain ourselves with a snack. This unassuming café was one we simply stumbled upon in a back alley, but should you be in Venice I suggest you seek it out. The mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich on olive bread was to die for accompanied by one or two Aperol Spritz (don’t judge – it was hot).
This was the jewel in the crown of our stay. Located on Mozzorbo a remote island off of Burano it was a bit of mission to reach it but well worth it. This exclusive vineyard is home to the only native grape of Italy and a Michelin Star restaurant, which was to be our destination for dinner. We chose the tasting menu which has been developed by their four chefs (three women and one man – I’m sure our Nick Clancy would sympathise). We chose a lovely bottle of Prosecco which came from another vineyard also owned by the people behind Venissa (although the detail that it was the one Tesco offer possibly took the sheen off a little – ops!). The food was, as you would expect, exceptional with delicate flavours and locally sourced ingredients from the estate. The only slight niggle was the midges which also came to eat at the restaurant – the issue being they were eating us. However, bug spray was provided and on a vineyard which avoids artificial pesticides and is surrounded by water – what can you expect? Having had a beautiful meal with impeccable service it was time to leave for the main island. Only this time we treated ourselves to a private river taxi which made us feel rather like something out of a bond film – a glamourous end to a lovely evening.
Although the trip was very well researched (by my good self) we left a few mealtimes open so we could fit in some local finds and after a bit of TripAdvHi Fisor-ing we settled on Rosa Rossa. Offering good Italian fair and a relaxed ambiance the restaurant was lovely, if the service was a little hit and miss, but perhaps having hotfooted it from our Michelin star experience our standards were a touch high. Never-the-less we had a lovely meal and it was with heavy hearts that we said our farewells to Venice the next day – after a cheeky club sandwich on the terrace of our hotel (well! In for a penny…).
You would be forgiven for thinking we simply ate our way around Venice (which to be fair we did – did I mention the gelato?) but rest assured, in between all the eating there was of course an extensive amount of sight-seeing with us clocking up over 82,000 steps over our five days (good job really otherwise we may not have fitted on the plane with all that food!). Throw in a romantic gondola ride, a boat trip down the Grand Canal and of course The Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Square and the Basilica, not to mention the Bridge of Sighs and The Rialto Bridge and a trip to Murano to see the famous glass and there you have it – Venice. If you can’t make it out to Venice yourself you can always cook-up some pasta and take virtual tour courtesy of Google , but frankly nothing beats the real thing!