9 Times the Charm: Venice

I took my suoceri (in-laws) to Venice in July. It was their first time there and I was proud to know enough about Venice to show them around, or at least make our way through the winding streets without getting too lost. In fact, I counted and it was my ninth time to Venice. I love going every time, especially now that I can go for a day trip without problems.

Venice doesn’t have much of a nightlife, and there’s a big cost difference between eating and eating well, so I don’t mind just getting a sandwich where I can and concentrating on what I can see. (And buy.)
I see a lot of people clutching maps as we wind through the streets, but I really like just wandering around and seeing what I can. I remember my favorite spots and with a few landmarks you can navigate quite well.

Unfortunately, the day we were there, there was a transportation strike – the only transportation being the vaparetto “ferry buses” that are really the only way to get around if you don’t want to walk. So Murano Island was out, which is where I like to go to conduct my business/affari, so we improvised.

Normally I walk from the train station, La Ferrovia dello Stato, to St. Mark’s Square. There are lots of shops along the way, and several landmarks. This time we decided to cross over the big bridge directly in front of the station and walk on the other side.

After winding through some side streets, devoid of any real shops or visible life forms, we ended up near the Rialto Fish market (Pescheria), where there were lots of people. Apparently fish has been sold here for over 600 years. This current building is only about 100 years old, though.

It was about 11 when we passed through the market. The fish had been sitting out for a few hours, and the early bird patrons had already scooped up the freshest selections.

Service still is king – he was cutting fresh fish up for a waiting customer.

There was not only a fish market, but a fruit and vegetable market as well. My in-laws bought some beans for our meal that night, Pasta e fagioli. That was the first time I had carried around a Venetian purchase that wasn’t glass.

I couldn’t resist this fruit and in fact we bought some of the nectarines that I love. There weren’t that many other people taking pictures of food so a few strange looks came my way when I crouched down in front of the stand. My Italian family is pretty much immune to my eccentricities by now, so they just waited patiently.

I’m not a big fan of ribes, gooseberries but I thought they looked great in this picture. The lighting was perfect.

There were very few tourists on that side of the Canal, and it’s hard to remember that Venice is a home to many Italians. The Venetians seem to be in the shops during the day and in the evenings, they retreat to their homes off the main island. But that day, there were many, many Italians out doing their normal Saturday shopping. I noticed quite a line inside this meat and cheese shop, La Casa del Parmigiano, and thought it beared remembering.

After a bit of a walk and being surrounded by all that food, we felt it best to take a rest and eat our lunch. It was only 11:30. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it in the U.S., but that’s the earliest I’ve ever eaten lunch in Italy. But it made sense – we had taken the 7am train from Milan and we had fresh sandwiches we had bought at my favorite shop just after getting off the train. Why shouldn’t we have a snack? That and we had had our senses stimulated a little too much by the sights at the market. This was the piazza we sat and ate in.

I have to note that I have always been extremely lucky with Venetian weather. Sunny and clear in late November, early March, mid-July. I’ve never experienced acqua alta, the high water where everyone has to walk on the raised planks. Of course you get the occasional sunburn from the long vaparetto trip. The days when the sun shines, the city really sparkles and it makes more vivid. This day was another beautiful example of how good Venice was to us.

The sight of the Torre dell’Orologio (clock tower) below may not seem like much to you, but it was only recently uncovered at the end of May after almost 10 years of restoration. The tower is more than 500 years old. [More about the restoration]

I’d be lying if I said I came home empty-handed other than the beans. I have a real problem when it comes to shopping in Venice – I Of course I found some new finds since I stayed on the mainland and checked out the other shops.

What do you love about Venice? Do you have any favorite spots off the beaten path? Give me some ideas for trip #10!

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  1. says

    that’s funny about fergie…

    the photos from venice are great–the fruit one is incredible! your trip sounds like it was a lot of fun. i’d really like to see the bell tower, as i of course always remember it as in the process of being restored. some places i have enjoyed visiting are the church of santa maria dei miracoli and the guggenheim, but i’m with you: just wandering is great fun.

  2. Frank, before you says

    what do you think of the hotels mentioned Wiki travel-Milan…do you have a favorite for us based on close to you, price, a bathroom, etc.

  3. says

    Thanks for taking me to Venice today! I really enjoyed your pictures. I love, love, LOVE, Venice. I could a million times and it wouldn’t be enough. My husband lived there for five years and doesn’t share my love of the city. Oh well. Looks like you guys had a great time.

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