VENICE – March 2016

We just got back from 5 days in Venice over the Easter weekend. The last time I was there was when I was 12 years old and spent a few days there with my mum. Even then I remember it being beautiful, but of course like your average 12 year old I didn’t fully appreciate it. So I knew going back as an adult would be a totally different experience, and it was.

Where We Stayed
At the Hotel Metropole, which we got on a good deal via Expedia (by booking flights and hotel together). The location of the hotel couldn’t have been better, the vaporetto (water bus) stop is right outside and the hotel is 5 minutes’ walk from St Mark’s Square. Decor inside is very quirky and gothic and interestingly our room was actually on 2 levels -the door opened into the lower level and the bathroom was on this level, then it was 4 steps up to the main room. I’ve never seen anything like this in a hotel before but it did work! The hotel has a Michelin-starred restaurant on site (The Met), which we did try on one night of our visit and it was quite an experience. We didn’t have breakfast at the hotel as it was so expensive, so we went out for cappuccino, croissants and fruit instead.

What We Did
Mostly the typical tourist stuff. We bought 3-day vaporetto passes and spent one day visiting the islands of Burano (famous for lace making) and Murano (famous for glass making); and another day visiting Torcello (one of the least habited islands of the Venice Lagoon, but home to the oldest artwork in the area; the mosaics in the Cathedral which are absolutely stunning).

The must-do sites in the city centre – Basilico San Marco and the Doge’s Palace often have horrendous queues. We got around this because at the much less visited Museo Correr on the other side of Piazza San Marco, you can buy tickets which combine entry to the Museo Correr and the Doge’s Palace so you don’t have to queue in the huuuuge queue at the palace. We actually enjoyed the Museo Correr as well, it was once the residence of Napoleon and his wife Josephine and has some fascinating history.

A couple of highlights of our trip involved music. We had been recommended Musica Palazzo, an immersive opera experience based in a palazzo on the Grand Canal, and it was indeed an amazing experience walking through the rooms of the palazzo while the opera ‘La Traviata’ happened around us. We also saw an advertisement for a Vivaldi concert taking place just off Piazza San Marco so decided to get tickets for that; while I knew most of the music being performed quite well, it was a lovely atmosphere to hear it again.

Having said all of that, one of the best afternoons we had was one where we had very little planned, we just wandered through the streets exploring and admiring the scenery; and luckily enough this led us to the wonderful Osteria di Filo, a fantastically atmospheric little bar where prosecco is 2.50 euros a glass…anywhere where prosecco is cheaper than coffee is OK in my book!

Where We Ate
Friends who’d been to Venice described the food as ‘disappointing’, so unusually I booked nearly all the restaurants in advance (I usually book one or two but leave the rest to chance… not this time!) The high points which deserve a mention were Acquastanca on Murano (I had an amazing dish of gnocchi with courgette and scallops which I am still dreaming about), Il Ridotto (delicious and fantastic-value food just 5 minutes from Piazza San Marco), Villa 600 on Torcello (more amazing scallops, not that they need any publicity from me since they are the only option for a nice lunch on Torcello if- like us- you are refused entry to Cipriani) and Riviera (a lovely setting and a great and charismatic owner!)

Also an honourable mention has to go to Harry’s Bar; it is probably the most touristy place in Venice (possibly even including Piazza San Marco) but there is no denying that the bellinis are DELICIOUS.

Anyway, I think the photos speak for themselves…



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