Venice Journals

Venice: Like stepping into a Canaletto painting...

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A September 2001 trip to Venice by actonsteve

Palazzo Contorini  Photo, Venice, Italy More Photos
Quote: Venice has an ethereal quality. A fairytale city that floats on a lagoon dotted with palazzo's, bridges and domes. A city so beautiful that it thought it was the centre of the world. And when you stand in Piazza San Marco and gaze around, you may agree with that claim.

Venice: Like stepping into a Canaletto painting...

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Overview

Look at the place! It doesn't seem real! Photo, Venice, Italy
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A visit to Venice will accrue a few memories of a lifetime. The sound of ancient bells tolling across the streets, the growl of the vaporetto as it bumps into Zattere stop, the slop of the the Adriatic as it washes against the ancient palazzo's, being pitched into the tourist maelstrom of the Riva degli Schiavoni and the sound of classical music being played across Piazza San Marco at night. This is the most beautiful city in the world. This is Venice. You cannot but think of purple prose as you wander the bridges and narrow streets of this city. Everything is a feast for the eyes, with the exception of Paris no city in the world is so geared towards sheer aesthetic beauty. Y...Read More
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One of the great pleasures of Venice is to see the shock on visitors faces when they roll off the vaporetto and have to find their way to their hotel amongst the maze-like streets of the city. Finding your hotel while trailing your luggage behind you takes some doing but one of the best has to be the Locanda Silva. Almost identical to a hundred hotels around this one has a reputation so good it is recommended by several guidebooks. In a city where reasonably priced accomodation is at a premium this is a real gem and just dips into the budget range with single rooms for 65,000 lira. Of course it also caters for more wealthy guests with superb double rooms for about 110,000 lira - so a good mixture of w...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 21, 2002

The Locanda Silva - Amidst the maze of Venice
Fondantera Remedio
Venice, Italy
041 522 7643

Squid, Garlic and Antipasti Dining

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Restaurant | "Squid, garlic and antipasti- dining in Venice"

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At the Trattoria San Remo I was shown how to properly eat Italian sphegetti. The proprietress showed me how to fluff it up so that the meat, tomato sauce and pasta are mixed together. Then you twist it around your fork ready for eating and wash it down with a good house wine. This little trattoria was one of the gems of Venice. And we wondered each night how we managed to find it as it was tucked away under the hundreds of bridges on one of the hundreds of canals north of the Bacino di Orseolo. For 33,000 lira we would have spaghetti Bolognese, fresh salad, bread and garlic oil. Or the seafood - what is the point in coming to Venice and not trying the seafood? Lobster and squid...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 22, 2002

Squid, Garlic and Antipasti Dining
Rio Terra di Colonne
Venice, Italy

Isola Maggiore from the Riva Photo, Venice, Italy
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Venice is probably a city for the rich. It's glossy lustre is probably best appreciated along the waterfront promenade just south of the Piazza, called the Riva degli Schiavoni, which stretches from the Arsenale to one of the most gorgeous churches in the world - Chiesa San Salute. This is where the empire of the tourist collides with international jetsetters. Where shoppers roll off the vaporetto at Valleresso to visit Gucci, Prada and and Bulgari before having dinner at one of the luxury hotels at the mouth of the Grande Canale. Venetians themselves are outnumbered a thousand to one by assorted Eurotrash, school groups, daytrippers and cruise passengers who crush everything i...Read More
The Palazzo Ducale looking towards the Molo Photo, Venice, Italy
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The Doges (Dukes) of Venice were very sure of themselves. They didn't hide behind ramparts and battlements like most medieval rulers. Their great palace - the Palazzo Ducale - is a light, delicate airy building which is bold and confident, challenging the world to ransack Venice and storm the Piazzetta. Of course they knew that would never happen. Venice was near impregnable hiding in its little lagoon. Whenever the republic was threatened it simply moved the guidance mooring posts and invading ships ran aground. It enabled the Doges to build, in my mind, one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe and where they ruled 'La Serenissima' for a thousand years. The Palazzo truly is a w...Read More
The tallest structure in Venice - the Campanile Photo, Venice, Italy
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When you look out over the rooftops of Venice, you look at the most perfectly preserved cityscape in Europe. You become a medieval Venetian when you enter this unique city. Cars are banned, so everyone takes to the narrow streets just as they did 800 years ago. Travel is still by water with vaporettos taking the place of the thousands of gondolas that used to ply the Bacino San Marco. And the silence is palpable - broken only by the tramp of feet, church bells, and toots from vessels in the Adriatic. To get even closer to the history of this city, a visit to the Musei Correr (City Museum) is a must. Combine this with a trip up the Campanile, it rounds off the sights in the Pia...Read More
Frescoes showing the removal of St Mark Photo, Venice, Italy
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There is a whiff of the east about the Basilica di San Marco - Venices' premier church. It must be those bulbous domes reminding you of ancient Byzantium or the iconic gilt interior which reeks of the age of Constantine and Theodorius. Whatever, you think of San Marco - and it provokes some pretty extreme reactions - it is without doubt one of the greatest cathedrals in the world. And your first sight of it, particularly if you enter the Piazza under the Musei Correr, is unforgettable. The mish-mash of styles is stunningly striking - gothic, byzantine and Romanesque and the great domes overlooking it all give it the appearance of an Ottoman mosque. It became my favourite sight in Venice (despite ...Read More
Piazza San Marco floods Photo, Venice, Italy
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To me, Venice is one of the most relaxing cities on earth. The absence of any noise except the slop of water against the canal banks or the toll of bells means I feel any stress drop away. It is not all paradise in this beautiful city; there are two things which you must watch out for - (1) the fabled high tides of Venice - the Aqua Alta - which can flood the Piazza San Marco in five inches of water and (2) is the sheer volume of tourists that visit this city. And when the two are combined (see photo)even the calmest of tempers can get frayed. But it is essentially a very relaxing city and one which I can't wait to return. Venice in early Autumn has a sense of mystery about it. There is a bleak ...Read More
The Procuraties - northern side Photo, Venice, Italy
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The centre of the world? The Venetians certainly thought so and a visit here to the most famous square in the world explains why. You've heard all the hyperbole before, but until you stand in the Piazza with the pigeons fluttering around you, the marble of the Procuraties enclosing you, and the bells of the Campanile rolling across the square - you won't truly belive how beautiful the place is. No movie, brochure picture or guidebook platitude can truly do credit to it. And again and again you will find yourself gravitating to the largest open space in this ancient city. A city which boasts hundreds of elegant Campo's - but only one space that qualifies for the grand title of Piazza. All vaporet...Read More
The view from the Lido vaporetto stop Photo, Venice, Italy
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If there is one city in the world which is made for the big screen it has to be Venice. The city has starred in so many movies - we can all name a few - "Summertime" with Katherine Hepburn, two James Bond films, and enough Merchant-Ivory productions to keep the residents of Cheltenham happy for years (''The Wings of A Dove'' is truly exceptional). But if there is one film which encapsulates the haunting melancholic beauty of the city it has to be Visconti''s "Death in Venice". The location for this masterpiece is the Lido (Beach) which is a short vaporetto trip across the lagoon from the Piazza. Here golden beaches look out over the Adriatic fronted by grand luxury hotels. It may ...Read More
Murano's Gramde Canale Photo, Venice, Italy
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Take your wallet and your credit card, but most of all take your sense of humour when you visit Murano. The kitschiness of some of the glassware is hysterical and you have to wonder who buys the green hippoes and pink flamingoes on show in some of the galleries. Of course there is fantastic glassware as well, some of it in the million lira range, and the glass museum is astonishing. But most of all is the feel for the beautiful island itself only half an hours journey from Venice. Murano is a self-enclosed world with the pastel buildings, canals and bridges of its larger neighbour. But at the same time wonderfully quiet and relaxing. Here you can shop for glassware,wander the galleries and avoid the c...Read More
The Rialto Bridge from the Grande Canale Photo, Venice, Italy
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Shylock: "In the Rialto you have rated me about my moneys and my usances. Still I have borne it with a patient shrug; For sufferance is the badge of our tribe: You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, and spit upon my jewish gaberdine. The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene 3 If Will Shakespeare ventured onto the Rialto Bridge today he would be trampled to death by Polish coach parties. The marble Bridge is smothered in tourists so that you have to fight your way to its parapet for views up and down the Grande Canale. Every visitor to Venice makes his way between the Piazza and the Rialto and the narrow streets around here are a continual street of baffled...Read More
Palazzo Contorini  Photo, Venice, Italy
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As I wandered around Venice, I wondered if the inhabitants ever take the city for granted? Whether the view across the lagoon ever paled, whether the novelty of the colours of the buildings ever fades, and whether the Palazzo's that line the Grande Canale ever become boring? To mind the answer is no - however many times you traverse the Grande Canale you fall in love with the city all over again. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in the world and each visitor to Venice traverses its 4 kilometre length with an open mouth. It is the main highway of Venice, splitting the city in two, and is a continuos stream of vaporetto's, water-taxis and gondolas. So whenever your feet ca...Read More
Beautiful views every where you turn Photo, Venice, Italy
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Canaletto, Tintoretto and Veronese were all local boys made good. The canals and alleyways of Venice were their natural habitat and some of the best of their works is in the fantastic Accademia Gallery on the banks of the Grande Canale. This is firmly on the tourist trail and houses without doubt Venice's most astonishing works of art. We have Napoleon to inadvertantly thank for this collection. On his invasion of Venice in 1797 he gathered up all the best artwork from churches and private homes and shipped them to Paris. Venice didn't get them back until after Waterloo. Now you can enjoy it at your leisure and along with a visit to the spectacular Church of San Salute next door - it makes one of the ...Read More
'The Golden House' from the vaporetto stop Photo, Venice, Italy
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One of the best decisions to make in Venice is paying admittance to the Ca D'Oro as the view of the Grande Canale from its top storey is sensational. This is the one chance you will have to visit the palazzo of a Venetian merchant family and view some of the best artworks in Venice. On a sunny day you can see up and down the Grande Canale from its gothic arches and there is no finer view in the world. And after a visit here, there are the narrow lanes of the Merceries which lead from the Rialto to the Piazza. This is the kingdom of plastic gondola's, postcards and glassware kitsch but also includes one of the most enigmatic sights in Venice - the pool of gondolas. Which gives you a...Read More