Friday, April 17, 2009

Venice in April

Our trip to Venice was even better than I expected: the weather forecast had changed from dubious to merely tolerable in the week before our departure, therefore the brilliant blue skies and 22 degree temperature that greeted us as we made our way from the airport to the waterbus terminal were a real bonus. Venice should only be approached from the sea, as befits its status an ancient maritime power. Sweeping around the lagoon before docking just in front of the piazzetta adjacent the Doge's Palace added to our mounting excitement. The hotel, secreted only a few hundred yards away from the bustle of San Marco, was as good as its internet promises, the room large and immaculately clean, with a view of San Giorgio Maggiore if we craned far enough out of our window. Determined to extract every last minute from the holiday we set off almost immediately to explore.

What a lovely city! By turns mesmerically busy and tranquilly quiet, magnificent and imposing or intimate and cosy. I had planned a couple of itineraries, but the joy of unhurried exploring on foot soon took over. We were constantly grateful that we'd invested in a good detailed map - it would have been difficult if not impossible without it to keep track of the winding calles, campielli and bridges. As in Rome, we chanced on the best discoveries, quiet neighbourhoods with sleepy ancient churches and inexpensive osterie and bacari.

Of course we did the obvious tourist things as well: San Marco in all its Byzantine splendour, the bustling Rialto and its early morning markets, climbing the campanile of San Giorgio for the stunning panoramas. But one of the most enjoyable things was just sitting back on the vaporetti and slowly meandering around the canals, zigzagging from stop to stop, hopping on and off by both day and by night.

The food was excellent, and although our budget did not stretch to too many local specialities, we managed to try a few including bigoli con salsa, osso buco and fegato alla veneziana with polenta, accompanied by vegetables that we fondly imagined had come from the erberia that morning.

Our time there was just too short and there's lots that we didn't manage to fit in - but at least we have an excuse for another visit.....!

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