Italy

This is Castelluccio di Norcia

IMG_1259I tell ya.  There are some beautiful places on this planet.  Some of which look like belong to another planet.  I can think of some parts in south Utah like Lake Powell, and Horseshoe Bend in Arizona that look like something you may see in science fiction movies.  The common theme is usually color.  And if you come at the right time to this part of Umbria you might just see every color imaginable.  If you come at the wrong time as we did, its spectacular, still.

Castelluccio is where beautiful mother nature meets cruel mother nature.  It is perched dramatically on a hill in the middle of a large plateau surrounded by the Sibillini mountains.  On October 30, 2016 Castelluccio was the epicenter of a 6.6 earthquake that decimated the village.  Eight months later the famous wild flowers that surround the village were back.  And once the roads opened about a year after that, the tourists started to come back as well.IMG_1276

So when is the best time you ask?  Sometime between end of May and beginning of July.  Its something that is not possible to time properly.  We came in the second week of June and the colors were not quite as robust as the pictures we’ve seen.  Notice the before and after of Castelluccio (Google it).  Although destroyed, its still stunning due to its position.  Today you can drive up, enjoy a meal, or do what we did.  A picnic of Salami e Pecorino overlooking the mesmerizing back plateau, following the herd of sheep.  The feeling of being in the middle of the devastation you heard about years ago, while surrounded by this landscape is indescribable.

You will most likely pass Norcia on the way, which also got severely damaged during the earthquake.  One of its main attractions, the Basilica of St. Benedict, totally destroyed.  What remain is the facade facing the statue of St. Benedict, still standing, all defiant in the middle of the square.  The city was a ghost town when we popped in.  Many stores, and restaurants closed, or relocated after the quake. IMG_1296

The Norcia pork butchers are so famous, they are called Norcino across Italy, and their shops are Norcinerias.  They are the Culatello of Pork butchers.  Inside a typical Norcineria you’ll find cured meats galore including Grandpas balls, Palle del Nonno.  The Italians call them like they see em, although Grandpas balls seem a lot larger than mules balls, Coglioni di Mulo for some reason.  Be careful when slicing them.

On the way to the flower fields, pass by Antica Norcineria F.lli Ansuini for some picnic supplies including bread.  Or better yet get it from the store with the same name inside Norcia.  Although same name, they dont seem related somehow.  Like twins that are not in speaking terms.  Then stop by at Cioccolateria Vetusta Nursia di Arianna Verucci for your chocolate needs and perhaps a tour of their facility as we did.  But if you prefer to sit down for lunch, reliable sources told me to head to Agriturismo il Casale degli Amici just outside Norcia.  A day trip to this area in the summer is memorable to say the least.

 

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L’oste di Borgo – A Slow Jewel in Colle di Val d’Elsa

L’oste di Borgo - TartareI get cranky when a meal doesnt go my way back at home.  I tend to get very quiet, and everyone at the table usually knows it at some point no matter how hard I try to hide it.  But when it happens on vacation, its closer to a clinical depression.  After months of preparations, somehow I picked a place that just served me cardboard flavored crostini.  I start to doubt my research abilities and sometimes even change plans to maximize probabilities.  On my last trip, midpoint, I cancelled all remaining hotel dining, even though I read nothing but good things about them.

Thankfully the bad meals were few and far between.  The only quibble was that some of the really good ones were very early in their respective legs.  So when we came across similar dishes in the region we were often disappointed.  Such was the case with L’oste di Borgo in the picture perfect Tuscan town of Colle di Val d’Elsa.  Our first meal in Tuscany this time set the bar maybe a little too high.

Finding L’oste di Borgo is easy.  Enter the main gate (Porta Nuova) and walk until you see the first evidence of life conversing with other life.  The young couple that took over the space not too long ago runs the place like a well-oiled machine.  If you are in a rush, this place is probably not for you.  Its “Slow Food” in every sense.  From the wait, to the explanation of the 0 km ingredients (or 5 to be exact), and the enjoyment.  When things taste this good, three hour meals are pure joy.  When its not, its pure Tortura.

L’oste di Borgo - Appetizer mix

The mixed appetizer platter is nothing short of a triumph, especially once you compare it to other places.  Fresh, local, peppery Salami, silky Prosciuto, Crostini with liver and lardo, fruits, various spreads and more.  Impeccable attention to raw material.  Then comes an expertly prepared, Piemonte style, hand chopped Beef Tartare.  Not the prized Chianina but who cares when it tastes so good.  There was also a fine chicken, and Tagliata, but get the Tartare.

The Pici Cacio e Pepe was another big hit, and most likely best I ever had.  We enthusiastically ordered three more of this during this trip and they never got quite as peppery or creamy.  But the most interesting dish was the Paccheri coated with a Scamerita ragu.  Thats a white ragu of the back of the pork neck.  Only in Italy we experience such flavor from such little meat.  And only in Italy you can wash it all down with a nice dry red litter for the price of a NY glass.  One of our new favorites in Tuscany.     

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This is Colle di Val d’Elsa

IMG_9318What is the perfect base?  Its not rocket science.  Put your destination stars on the map, and pick something in the middle.  The only decision is whether it will be a city, a town, village, or something in the countryside like a villa or Agriturismo.  You’ll find many advantages and disadvantages with all options.  Thats why mixing it up a little works for many.

Colle di Val d’Elsa is a town in central Tuscany, or “North” Tuscany when you look at it from the tourist or wine vantage point, with Val d’Orcia in the south and Chianti in the north.  Its perched on a hill on top of River Elsa and the Esla Valley, hence the name which took us a good three days to pronounce.  Its smack in between the “The Kings of the North”, Siena and San Gimignano.  That makes Chianti well within reach, and Florence less than an hour by car.

But what makes Colle even more unique is the town itself, and the lack of those pesky tourists.  Its not in the destination level of Lucca, Pisa, or Siena as its lacking the monuments and attractions.  But as a base, it offers just enough.  Colle has a picturesque old town (Colle Alta), a new town surrounding a beautiful square, and another “town” which is sort of something in between the old and the new.  The old town sits on top of the new town.  In fact the only modern structure you’ll see in the old town is the elevator connecting it to the new town below.  It looks and functions like a time machine.  I’m slightly influenced by a dark German series I’m watching now on Netflix called well, Dark.  Everything looks like a time machine to me these days.

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But lack of tourists can sometimes feel that, lacking, if you dont find a thriving local life.  Thats not a problem with Colle.  Plenty of bakeries, restaurants, markets, atmospheric squares and even a glass museum.  Colle di Val d’Elsa produces 15% of the world’s crystal, and roughly 95% of Italy’s production.  Its the birthplace of the famous artist Arnolfo di Cambio.  One of the most famous restaurants in Tuscany, and the only Michelin star establishment in Colle, took his name.

Stay – Palazzo San Lorenzo.  A former hospital turned into a serviceable, modern hotel.  Easy to get in and out with a car.  Ample parking within 5 minute walk outside the only gate remaining.  Comfortable huge rooms, decent breakfast, with a restaurant and spa.

Eat – L’oste di Borgo.  A  young couple running what looks like one of the more popular restaurants in town.   More to come on this gem very soon

See – The mentioned glass museum, old town and the palazzos lining the main road on top, the new town at night, and more vistas than you can count.  Well, on two hands at least.

 

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Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno in Genoa

IMG_E0441Caterina Campodonico was a peasant that worked hard selling necklaces made of nuts and loafs of breads.  Before she died in 1882, she was determined to show her legacy by hiring the most expensive sculptor around, Lorenzo Orengo, and a poet to build her monument.  In order to do that she had to sell a lot of nut necklaces and save all her profits.  So its easy to see why the “Peanut Seller” in the magnificent Staglieno cemetery in Genoa, became a symbol for the hard working people of Genoa.  In the pictures below you can see her proudly wearing one of her necklaces.

Caterina is one of many stories in this outdoor museum.  I’ve seen plenty of interesting cemeteries, but not with so much expression and emotion.  Its worth checking it out just for a handful of angels, like the one we called the William H Macy angel (below), and possibly the sexiest angel in the world.  Around the same time Caterina Campodonico died in 1882, Giulio Monteverde designed this most sensual angel (top picture and one more below) to guard the tomb of of the Oneto family.  No wonder Macy looks grumpy.  He’s nowhere near her.

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There’s also the grave of the Genoa born Giuseppe Mazzini who helped free and unify Italy.  His life and efforts read like a binge worthy Netflix series.  He’s so important to Genoa, that they celebrate him twice, June 22 when he was born, and March 10 when he died.  And then there’s the grave of the estranged wife of Oscar Wilde’s, Constance Lloyd, which I couldnt find.  Not sure how she would feel knowing that her descendants added “Wife of Oscar Wilde” on her stone.  All the info out there suggests she did not want that association.

Genoa gets often shortchanged and overlooked by Italy tourists. The striking Staglieno is perhaps the #1 reason why you should not only visit this city, but stay a while.  And there’s a lot More Than This (the Genoa slogan you see everywhere these days).  I didnt know they were such big fans of Brian Ferry.  Click on the pictures below for a closer look

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Antiche Sere (Bevagna) – Sons of Anarchy

Antiche Sere chickpea soupIf you walk around the village of Bevagna in Umbria looking for a place to eat, Antiche Sere might be the last place you’ll pick.  Sort of like picking Thai food in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC.  I think my group was hoping I made a mistake when we finally reached it.  “Are you positive this is it?  From the parking lot we passed more inviting places.  Like, all of them.  And there are about 10 spots higher on Trip Advisor in a town with 11 restaurants”.  They said none of this out loud of course.  They trust me and learned to follow me like the sheep in the anarchist logo surrounding the “A” in Antiche.

The software engineer in me looks at it with the following logic.  The people of Umbria (Umbri? Umbrianos?  I like Umbrianos) I’m told rarely go out to eat.  Holidays, special occasions, thats just about it.  Thats because most of the restaurants mostly serve the same traditional dishes that that residents make at home.  So the restaurants in little villages like Bevagna have to rely on us tourists to a large extent.  And like in a Las Vegas bunny ranch, they need to look attractive, and positioned properly to attract customers.  And then you have places like Antiche Sere that just dont give a hoot.  The type that know what they are and gained a following.  They type you target, and not bump into by accident.

Antiche Sere

Antiche Sere LogoThis being my first Umbria post means the end result was quite positive.  One of the most complete meals of a two week trip in fact.  As soon as you walk in, you feel more at ease once you see the funky space.  You walk by a small kitchen where you see the proud anarchist owner washing dishes, so at least you know the dishes will be clean.  And while the anarchist doesnt speak much English it seams, there’s a young friendly Indian waiter that does.

The menu is small.  The first sign that this is gonna be good.  The second sign was that the Porchetta Rabbit I heard about from Wendy from Antonelli winery is on it.  I now have a very warm and fuzzy feeling about this.  The young Anarchist in training told us the specials and we pretty much ordered all of them along with the all important rabbit.

Antiche Sere mushroomStarted with a delicious Chickpeas and clams soup.  Clams from Ancora and local  chickpeas much sturdier and more flavorful than what we are used to (Goya).  This is one of the lone places we encountered in Umbria that gets fresh seafood on occasion.  Panzanella salad with soaked bread, tomato, celery and some very good vinegar was refreshing on a hot day.  Simply grilled beefy local mushrooms.  Eggplant parmigiana was another winner.  And an exceptional oversized cappelletti pasta with cheese and tomato sauce.

But the shining star and best dish of the trip nominee was the rabbit rolled Porchetta style – aka “I cant believe its not Porchetta”.  A dish more common in pricey French joints.  Its incredibly tender and packed with flavor.  One of those signature dishes that may not come up from researching, but from a local.  All washed down with delicious local beer.

Antiche Sere RavioliAntiche Sere Porchetta rabbiit

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Val d’Orcia – Blame it on Her Juice

IMG_0943One of the joys of road tripping in Italy’s countryside for us is listening to the local radio.  While we try to catch some Italian tunes that match the mood, we often find catchy American songs that we either never get at our local stations for some reason, or  they sound a little different (ie explicit to us).  It started years ago when we discovered that Bruno Mars actually wanted to be a Billionaire “So fuckin bad”.  Who knew?

And so during each trip there’s a point where a particular song emerges as the theme song of the trip.  Unlike the previous clear winner (LP – Lost on You) in Sicily, this one required some growing.  But by the time we got to our last leg in Umbria, we were all going “Gotta blame it on the Goose (the Grey kind), Gotta blame it on my juice, baby”, until we almost ran into a ditch when I (driver) got carried away a little.

Driving the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany can be dangerous.  Its shockingly beautiful.  The colors change seasonally, but the gentle rolling hills are fixed and unlike anywhere else in the world.  Driving between Pienza and San Quirico especially feels like a National Park, Cypress-Land if you will.  Baby Fiats stopping in the middle of the road, wedding shoots, drones flying everywhere.  For the landscape freaks, there’s plenty of “Juice”.  Pictures below taken with iphone, shaking hands, and deteriorating eyesight.  Heck, you can see the difference from 6 years ago.  I just dont feel like carrying the big boy camera with me anymore.  Click on any of the pictures to enlarge

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Things We Ate in Venice

Tiramisu at L'Osteria di Santa Marina

Razor Clams at Osteria alle Testiere

If I knew I will not see them again in the next 7 days, I would have ordered 5 more of these if they let me.  Simple yet so addictive in one of the premier seafood destinations in Venice.  And I could have easily subbed this mention with the phenomenal Gnocchetti with shrimp

Osteria alle Testiere - Razor Clams

 

Octopus at Osteria Alla Frasca

Its a lesson in texture, and complimentary liquid.  Its served with two purees – potato, and cherry tomato for you to play with.  The outrageous Pasta Alla Frasca should be mentioned as well, in a place that not only redefines “Hidden gem”, but feels like Uncle Leo’s house

Osteria Alla Frasca - Octopus

Bosega at Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti

Its always fun bumping into fish I never heard of.  This Adriatic beauty is firm, delicate, and as expected here perfectly cooked.  Served with Jerusalem artichokes chips, and an oniony vinaigrette that even onion haters can enjoy.  Ai Artisti is one of our favorite new discoveries on this trip.

Bosega at Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti

Seafood Carpaccio at Antiche Carampane

A standout among standouts in a seafood mecca.  There was buttery tuna, seabass, Sicilian red shrimp, Adriatic Langoustine and more local canal residents.  The seafood pastas here delivered big again too.  Repeat #1 for us on this trip.

Seafood carpaccio at Antiche Carampane

Octopus and Potato Salad at Trattoria Alla Fontana

When you stay for more than 96 hours this time, you discover Venetian specialties you didnt know exist.  Like the Octopus and Potato salad which quickly won us over (until we had a stinky one).  At this quiet, canal side Cannaregio joint, this was the freshest and most balanced of them all.  And a not too shabby risotto.

Octopus and potato salad at Trattoria Alla Fontana

Spaghetti with shrimp and Wild Mushrooms at Trattoria Da Jonny

Ok, I admit, I’m fishing here a little.  But this was a very solid pasta, at least on par with many such pastas throughout this trip, with the delicate mushrooms setting it apart.  But the goal is to mention the one place where we were the only tourists.  Try the Tiramisu too

Spaghetti with shrimp and wild mushrooms at Trattoria Da Jonny

Mixed Seafood at Trattoria alla Maddalena in Mazzorbo (Burano)

This brilliant combination of flavors and textures probably led the trip in Wows.  Various kinds of large shrimp, small shrimp with grilled white polenta.  There was an amazing Bacalau-like spread made from a local fish called Dentice.  A fresher than fresh octopus salad.  And something they made from eggs of Sepia that tasted like crab that I couldnt get enough of.  Fantastic value to boot, and another big reason to visit Burano.

Trattoria alla Maddalena - mixed seafood

Baked Scallops with breading and carrots at Salvmeria

Notice a trend here?  This post is not for the seafood haters, many of whom probably stopped reading by now after seeing all this raw footage.  “Best meat dishes in Venice”, is a blog post I may have to reserve for another life.  Salvmeria (yes with a V) is a newish bar attracting mostly locals due to the location.  A location (Via Garibaldi) worth checking out.

Baked scallops with breading and carrots at Salvmeria

 

Meatballs at Vedova

Ok, I’ll throw a bone for the meat lovers still reading.  Although just about everyone, including accountants may find these delightful.  Its a dense filling of mostly bread, but so satisfyingly salty.  This is what this widow (Vedova) is known for.

Meatballs at Vedova

Tiramisu at L’Osteria di Santa Marina (top). 

The older I get, the more I appreciate a proper Tiramisu at the end of the meal.  I have never had so many great looking and tasting Tiramisus in one week, but this last one topped them all.  Here its deconstructed with waffles and slightly frozen cream resulting in different mesmerizing morsels.  A surprising hit out of many from this old timer.

Bonus: daPrette in Padua. 

The only thing we ate in Padua was a targeted snack.  Small Calzone or Panzerotto, which is dough stuffed with different combinations like ham cheese, tomato.  Talking about a fresh, super satisfying snack.  It’s not stuffed like a NY calzone but the dough is so delicious.  Great stop for a quick bite.

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This is Burano

And a little glimpse of Murano and Torcello

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Osteria alle Testiere {Venice} – 7 Years!

Osteria alle Testiere - ScallopsIt was a timely cue to a timely nap.  Mrs Z could not contain her excitement and ordered her favorite drink (Spritz) the first chance she got.  Then she quickly rediscovered the old formula.  Long flight + drugs incurred during long flight + Spritz = Fall asleep during lunch at Al Portego, almost on top of the couple sitting next to us, sporting a strange looking smirk.  I dont think I’ve seen this expression before in the 20 plus years or so.  Like Robert de Niro smelling Durian.  But the good news was that we were 5 minutes away from our comfortable new bed at the exceptional Ca’ Amadi.  And I needed both of us well rested for the first highly anticipated meal of the trip.  Even though I havent had a successful nap since I was 0.

You need to understand the complexity of making reservations for this 8 table room in order to see the humor in this scenario.  A group of 4 walked in, noticed an empty table to the right, and decided to grab it, only to be asked politely to leave.  Helga, we are not in Nuremberg any more.  I had to grab the 9 pm slot (7 or 9) weeks in advance, and call from the airport in Frankfurt to confirm.  One of the more difficult tables to get, though nothing compared to the big tables of the big apple.  Reason being:  Ask any Joe and Schmo that knows anything about the Venice Seafood dining scene and Osteria alle Testiere will be mentioned in every conversation.Osteria alle Testiere

They are running out of room to display accolades on their door front.  Real accolades, not “Rated on Trip Advisor”.  Why would anyone put this on their window at this day and age is a mystery to me.  It’s essentially the equivalent of “We exist”.  Osteria alle Testiere also understandably running out of room between tables.  So before you get to to your seat, you need to quickly determine whether its more polite to showcase the couple next to you your front or behind, while they are chewing on their razor clams.

We started with one of the many seemingly timeless specialties. Scallops with orange and leeks in a light tasty broth that made the table bread to great use.  Grilled razor clams were simple yet so addictive.  I watched the owner carrying them to every table with envy, even though we just had them.  The only place we’ve seen them in Venice.  Unlike the outstanding Spaghetti with clams which we’ve seen everywhere.  Another popular dish here.Osteria alle Testiere - Gnochetti

But surprisingly, the little Gnochetti may have stolen the show.  Tiny firm, succulent potato pillows beautifully absorbing the delicate white wine sauce with fresher than fresh shrimp.  Tuna steak with a sweet aged balsamic was good but forgettable compared to the rest of the delicacies.  Semifredo-like Zabaione with just enough hazelnut liquor to give Mrs Z that look again, was a solid finisher to another outstanding meal at Osteria alle Testiere.  Washed it all down with a young but potent Soave.

“Dont wait another 7 years, I’m getting old”  The owner told us as we were leaving with a very satisfied looking smug.  I dont believe him.  Nothing has changed.  Things change in a much slower pace in Italy.  I will see you in 7 my friend!

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10 Tips for Venice

italy 2010 1308Warning:  Some of these are tips you will see just about everywhere else.  I figured if I issue the warning I can easily get away with it.  But at the same time let some of this serve as a strong emphasis.

Stay for a while

I’ll start with the obvious, but perhaps the most important tip.  There are many tourist cities that merit staying longer, but this place demands it even more.  Venice is mostly enjoyed by day trippers and cruisers who spend the entire time in San Marco area, and then complain that Venice is way too crowded.  And while they marvel at the San Marco area sights, they often miss Venice’s most important attraction, Venice.  Venice’s main appeal is being one of the most unique places on earth.  Being there in the morning, and at night helps, but staying at least 4 days with a day trips to Murano/Burano and perhaps Padua is key to give this place any justice.

Location, Loca

No, its not a mistake.  I’m  listing half of the usual “Location, Location, Location” you see everywhere else because that is exactly what it deserves, half.  Venice is compact.  The only time we used the Vaporetto last time is when we had no choice but cross the canal to San Giorgio Maggiore, and to the islands.  Granted we stayed in a very central location this time, but it was more coincidental, and not that important to us.  You can walk from the train station to St Marks, which looks quite far on the map, in 30 minutes.  While location can be important, half of Venice as the title suggests can be considered in a good location, maybe more.  And going back to the previous point, you are walking in Venice after all, not Cleveland.  But you need to stay in Venice and not Mestre or Cleveland

Stay here

This one is very specific, but a tip nonetheless.  Ca’ Amadi is a gem.  Its the most central middle of nowhere place you will ever find.  Its tucked inside the kind of courtyard that as a stranger you want to immediately turn around when you reach it, but as a guest, its a very welcoming and convenient retreat.  Risking hypocrisy after the previous tip, this is really as central as it gets in Venice.  You are within 20 minutes from just about anywhere.  The rooms are roomy, modern, comfortable and mostly quiet (Yes, canal rooms are indeed romantic, but remember, their canals is the roads).  And its also believed that Marco Polo himself used to live there as his family owned a few homes in the area.  So dont be surprised if your food exploration sense gets a sudden shock, and you find yourself one day Cicchettiing like a maniacIMG_7143

Read this

There are countless of food blogs out there including I suppose the one you reading right now.  But there’s only one blogger as of this writing that actually lives in Venice and understands the Venice food scene and dynamics better than anyone.  And yes, some of the tips you’ll find in my blog came from the talented Nicoletta Fornaro of Naturally Epicurean.

https://www.naturallyepicurean.org/home

Visit Burano

This may be obvious to some but not all.  Some may even elect to take it slow and skip it or visit just one of the islands like Murano, since its usually mentioned in the same breath.  But the island of Burano is not only one of Venice’s best gems, its one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen.  There are very few places in Europe that I describe as “Movie Sets”.  Sintra, Dubrovnik, Cesky Krumlov are some.  A smack in the face as soon as you get off the boat, and you dont stop smacking until you get off the island or restrained.  Have lunch at Trattoria alla Maddalena in the serene island of Mazzorbo just over the bridge.  And then head to Torcello

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Dont Get Lost

Its understandable what everyone means by “Get Lost”, and so I’m not exactly opposing that.  Getting lost in the narrow callis of Venice can be fun and rewarding, but that magic can quickly disappear if you cant eventually find your way, risking that all too familiar look from the wife.  Venice can be tricky to navigate.  And if you havent made Google Maps your best travel companion by now, its not too late.  You can download the map of Venice back at home and use it off-line.  Its easy to use and it works.  And its also effective with your water transportation needs in Venice.  I could have made a beautiful collage of bridges with people standing on top struggling with their paper maps.

Explore Via Garibaldi

At some point these calles and bridges may start to all look familiar, until you get to eye popping Via Garibaldi.  There’s nothing like it in Venice.  A wide, very wide for Venice standards, street filled with local life and old charm.  Like you suddenly stepped inside another UNESCO heritage site.  This is that “Laundry Hanging” moment you’ve been looking for.  But dont stop there.  Go all the way and cross the bridge to the island of San Pietro where you may really be the only tourist there.

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Do the Cicchetti thing

No, its not a special dance, but more of a way of life.  Its the Venetian answer to the aperitivo, or Spanish tapas, but quite more than that.  Its an important part of Venice that you can easily miss when you give Venice one or two days.

Mastering Cicchetti in Venice

Do your food homework kids

Although plenty have done it successfully, this is not the place to explore and stumble on the first thing that looks good.  Its an incredibly touristy town with a bad food reputation, perhaps for good reason.  But the lagoon is rich with wonderful seafood, producing some of the best array of seafood restaurants we encountered anywhere.  If you or your spouse is not a seafood lover, you have my condolences.  But if any town can convert you, its this one.  Its the only place where we eat non stop and never gain any weight.  So, you can find hidden gems on your own, or take the safe route and let uncle Ziggy guide you.  Here’s a good starting point….

Osteria alle Testiere
Osteria Alla Frasca
Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti
Antiche Carampane
Trattoria alla Maddalena in Mazzorbo (Burano)
L’Osteria di Santa Marina
CoVino
Anice Stellato
Trattoria Da Jonny

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Plan Sensibly, follow your instincts.

You dont have to follow the masses anywhere, but it especially rings true for Venice.  Venice is loaded with hidden gems and mesmerizing monuments, and simply following the herd risks missing much of that.  Doge’s Palace is stunning indeed, but that means you’ll be spending a lot of time indoors in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Instead, something like Scuola Grande di San Rocco and the nearby Frari may fit your plan better.  Many flock to the Peggy Guggenheim museum just because it is very highly rated.  But after two visit, I find the collection and building rather dull and just not for me (Let the comments commence…).  Come up with a sensible plan that includes exploring some or most of the neighborhoods, and experiences like music in a church, or a food tour.  See Venice from above from San Giorgio Maggiore bell tower, and Fondaco dei Tedeschi department store terrace.  Visit Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the hospital next door.

Wear comfortable shoes, and remember to Enjoy!

Seriously Ziggy?  Not really.  This is the 11th tip that is not really a tip.  The type of tip that normally makes me throw up a little in my mouth every time I see it.  Can someone explain what exactly “Remember to Enjoy” mean?  If I can somehow click on a magical enjoy button, why do I need any other tip.  Do you go to sleep sometimes on vacation thinking, “damn it, I forgot to enjoy”.  And besides maybe aunt Betty’s house is there a place on this planet where you dont need to wear comfortable shoes?  Two of the most overused travel cliches out there

Enjoy! 😉

ZiggyIMG_7520

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