Thursday, October 15, 2015

Renting an Apartment in Venice for 1 week, da Vinci, Great Food, and Much More! - September 2015 - Part 1

This was my 3rd trip to Venice and I love it even more now. On the flight back to New York City I cried. I didn't want to leave.

Taken after dinner along the Fondamenta Zattere

It's hard to describe Venice because the city itself, is an emotion. Or should I say emotions. Every step you take, every bridge and canal you cross, every shoulder-width alleyway you explore, feels like living, breathing history. It must be seen to be truly understood. For example: close to my apartment was the famous wooden Accademia Bridge, spanning the Grand Canal. Just walking over it and gazing to my right was this iconic view!

Taken just with my iPhone.

I'm crying right now just looking at it. Venice is breathtaking. And also maddening. It's crowded with tourists like me, walking around awestruck with our mouths hanging open or who are stopping foot traffic to take a photo. But I forgive them and myself, for all this beauty makes me feel very humble and full of gratitude. 


Dark alleyway near taverns around the fish market.
Dizzy Note! For those of us challenged by dizziness and vertigo, please watch your step. Venice, over the centuries, has been settling into the seabed and often walkways are uneven. If something catches your attention, don't keep walking and look to your side. Most of us will topple over. If you do want to window shop, or stop because of an incredible view, come to a complete stop and then turn your body towards what you want to look at. It will prevent falls and will help to keep spinning at bay. Trust me, I've learned the hard way.

There's also a bit of humor found all over the city. This statue is fitted with its own umbrella.
Leaving from Newark International Airport I chose my favorite car service - Carmel. Traffic can often be crazy getting over to New Jersey from Manhattan, but Carmel is much cheaper than a taxi and this trip was priced lower than Uber. They're always on time, never early, never late. And they are available in most cities, countrywide, in the US.

Shared water taxi.
Most flights from the US will arrive in Venice early in the morning. Mine was 9:00 am. And everyone says, "Use the vapporeto." - The public water buses are the cheapest way to get around the city. There are no cars but even if it isn't rush-hour, like when I arrived, most boats are packed tight with passengers all the time without a seat to be had. And if you try to squeeze your luggage in with you especially after an 8+ hour flight...well, good luck. I highly recommend using a private water taxi or (less expensive), a shared water taxi. One trip it was only me and my travel companion, Bud, and one other couple. This year, there were 15 of us on board but it's still less crazy than the vapporeto. Viator.com offers a great price. Arrive in Venice stress free! Plus we were the last to be dropped off so we had a complete water tour of Venice. Private boats, charge you a lot of money for this experience.

Outside of our apartment building - we had the top two floors

Unlike other trips to Venice which have been 3 or 4 days long, this was a full week. Located in the Dorsoduro neighborhood, near the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, this is the Ognissanti Terrace booked through VRBO. This is the third house I've booked with Vacation Rental By Owner and I'm very happy with the service. The rooms looked exactly like they were pictured, even more beautiful. I booked two floors in what I knicknamed my palazzo. (It was an ancient home, now divided into 3 apartments.) We had the 2 top floors. 3 Bedrooms and a bath on the third; living room, kitchen and terrace on the 4th. This apt. sleeps 5 but the sofa up in the living room could easily sleep a 6th. We never felt cramped or confined like in a hotel room and the apartment was so bright and breezy. And so quiet! Just one little canal over from the Fondamenta Zattere, we were far from the noisy crowds. Sounds we experienced were a church bell ringing, a couple talking while strolling by or the gentle splashing of a gondola making its way down the canal.

HOTEL NOTE: If renting an apartment isn't your style, there are still some fantastic hotels in this charming neighborhood, like the Hotel Galleria and many others.

Enjoying wine and appetizers on the terrace before heading out to dinner.
The same view moments later.
If we had booked one double room in the beautiful hotel we stayed in last trip for four nights, it would have cost us almost $600 more than what this apartment cost for a week! What a bargain! With the apartment you can also split the cost if you're traveling with other adults. Plus, living in a home, shopping where the locals do, it made for a much more enriching experience. Plus we ate breakfast on the terrace every morning, saving a little fortune.

Clean, minimalist lines.
View outside the living room window.
One of three bedrooms.

Viator.com also offers many options for sightseeing in Venice. We were going to do a day trip into the hill towns but found there was still so much we wanted to explore in Venice, that we decided we'd just have to come back another time to do side-trips. They are having specials all the time. Look at this... Save 10%: Viator's Venice Super Saver: Skip-the Line Doge's Palace and St Mark’s Basilica Tours, Venice Walking Tour and Grand Canal Cruise

It seems that Venice is crowded during all seasons now.

Love this pic in Piazza San Marco with a lamppost but look at all the people.

Campanile di San Marco (The Bell Tower)

Here's another great day trip to the Dolomites plus you get to "skip the lines" again! And trust me, being able to skip the lines at St Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace is awesome.

The Dolomites
Save 8%: Venice Super Saver: Dolomite Mountains Day Trip and Skip-the-Line Venice in One Day Tour. And each trip to Venice I have to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Whether it's to enjoy the amazing collection of Cubism, Surrealism or Abstract Expressionism artwork (too much more to list here)...

The Angel of the City by Marino Marini - bronze 1948

or just to walk through her palazzo, (which is a work of art in its own right),
One of several stunning Alexander Calder mobiles.

or to sit out on her terrace along side the Grand Canal or in her beautiful gardens.


On a previous trip I had discovered that Peggy made a deal with the city of Venice. No one is allowed to be buried on the island for health reasons, so the island of San Michelle is the burial place for all for about ten years and then they remove your bones to another location. Space is tight. But Peggy said something like, "I'll give the city my museum and its artwork if you let me be buried in my garden with my beloved dogs." And it was a done deal, and now I'm sitting on Peggy Guggenheim!


Sad imitation of Katharine Hepburn
Giving nod to a beautiful film with a silly script, Summertime, with Katharine Hepburn, on Campo San Barnaba, this is me reenacting Katherine falling into the canal as she did in the movie at this very spot. (This is what I look like when I'm trying to walk with vertigo! lol) I was actually surprised at the number of people who came up to me after posing for this pic and said, "I came to Venice to see this spot. Summertime, yes?"


Katherine Hepburn in Summertime and pic of Church of San Barnaba
They also shot some scenes for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in this campo. On the same square in the Church of San Barnaba is Leonardo da Vinci's Machines Museum. About 60 models of his inventions are recreated. So awesome.


And often on this trip, Bud and I threw away guide books, apps and even friend's suggestions and picked restaurants when the spirit moved us. It proved to be a great technique. There was never a bad meal and many were quite exceptional, like this one in Campo San Baranaba...Osteria Enoteca - Oniga.


Very cozy inside with beautiful terrace too, Oniga was a great surprise. We met a couple sitting next to us from Boston and we tried to keep from laughing. Both were very attractive and as we're chatting away, their mouths became blacker and blacker as they ate their spaghetti with black squid ink. Totally black lips, tongues, teeth. They looked ready for Halloween! For appetizers we ordered homemade burrata with tomatoes and pesto and bacala (a salt cod spread) with polenta. 

Homemade burrata with pesto


Fresh bacala with polenta ( a very white dish fit for Dear Henry. He would only eat white food.)

And for entrĂ©es I had Monkfish Mediterranean style with kalamata olives, tomatoes, (I think some potatoes were in there too) with a balsamic reduction while Bud had a very thinly sliced veal with an incredible cream sauce with giant capers. 
Monkfish Mediterranean style.
Veal in cream sauce with giant capers.
This is just an appetizer of what this week in Venice was like. In the next blog, I'll post about the 2015 Biennale, a Verdi concert, a trip to the island of Murano and a concert style version of La Traviata plus more incredible restaurants.

Ciao!

1 comment:

  1. This makes me want to visit there so badly. Someday!

    ReplyDelete