The Clock Tower in St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy

Our full day in Venice served as proof that I want to visit a bazillion more times before I die. We began the day with an epic breakfast. The hotel had a spread with everything from homemade cafe latte, to crepes, to Italian meats and cheeses. We don’t have a lot of experience with fancy hotels, but the Locanda Orseolo spoiled us for all future travel. The building was beautiful, the accommodations were top-notch, and the staff was exceptional.

A picture of the breakfast spread at the Locanda Orseolo in Venice, Italy
The breakfast spread. We’ll miss you, Locanda Orseolo!

After our unexpectedly-fantastic breakfast, we embarked on our Walks of Italy tour with Sabrina. Low-key but informative, she knew a lot about Venice and its history. We wandered neighborhoods, saw the Rialto fish market, and even took a gondola ride!

A picture of us on a gondola ride in Venice, Italy
Maybe cliché, but still a very memorable experience and a must-do when in Venice.

The fish market was a real highlight, since I’m a huge Marcella Hazan fan. I liked to picture myself walking in her footsteps, as she’d shopped there for groceries and took her cooking class students on tours.

A sign reading No Mafia in Venice, Italy
Glimpsed during our Venice walking tour.
The famous hands sculpture in Venice, Italy
Also glimpsed on our tour, this famous sculpture symbolizing Venice’s continuing struggle.

Eventually, we broke for lunch. Sabrina recommended Rossopomodoro. Just steps from St. Mark’s Square, it didn’t disappoint. Somewhere in our tour, we had picked up a third, a nurse from upstate New York who traveled solo and seemed eager for company. She helped us finish a carafe of simple red table wine that haunts us to this day, and a fried appetizer platter—including panzerotti and fried macaroni. I chose a calzone pizza, which turned out to be the aptly named love child of pizza and a calzone, and Paul had a spicy diavolo pizza.

Fried appetizers at Rossopomodoro in Venice, Italy
Fried appetizers at Rossopomodoro.

We asked our new friend to take our picture in St. Mark’s square and after much trial, error, and learning to use the zoom feature, she succeeded. Pro tip: do not sit on any of the steps surrounding the square—you will get a stern talking-to if you try.

St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy

We returned to the group to tour St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doges Palace. No photos were allowed inside the Basilica, but the Byzantine mosaics in St. Mark’s were stunning. The Golden hallway at the Doges’ Palace wasn’t anything to scoff at either.

Inside the Doges' Palace in Venice, Italy
I think I’d like to be a Doge.
The Doges' Palace in Venice, Italy
A figurehead with no real power or responsibilities? Sign me up!

We even got to walk across the Bridge of Sighs and I sighed a lot for dramatic effect.

The view from the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy
The view from the Bridge of Sighs. Our guide told us sighing as we crossed the bridge would bring us luck, but she may have just been messing with us.

After our tour, we walked Venice. We tried to get up to the top of a department store for a scenic view, but it was too crowded. Instead, we found a square, with a fountain, musicians, and a tiny local bar where we indulged in many, many spritzes.

A quiet square in Venice, Italy
When we remember this vacation, the memory of this evening comes back to us most clearly.

Pleasantly buzzed, we headed to dinner at a place recommended by the staff at our hotel, Hosteria Al vecio Bragosso. A rehash of flavors from other meals, it was pasta Bolognese for Paul, more cuttlefish for me, and an excellent seafood risotto for the two of us. We rounded out the evening with Nutella, tiramisu, mixed berry, and lemon gelato.

Risotto in Venice, Italy
A Venetian specialty.

Next morning dawned and we felt sad, as our trip had finally come to an end. But that sorrow was rapidly replaced by crippling fear, as we shared a water taxi to the airport. The boat FLEW through the water, churning waves in its wake, throwing us from side-to-side, nearly tossing a suitcase into the lagoon. At one point the handle that controlled the glass ceiling cover broke off. The boat attendant yelled “oh my god!” which did nothing for our fraying nerves.

We managed to arrive alive, if frazzled. No one had prepared us for the crowded nightmare of the Venice airport and though we arrived very early, we struggled to make it to our plane on time. Luckily, the flight home proved uneventful and even came with individual air vents. Things were looking up, as we waved to Europe and began our journey home.

This brings us to the end of our two-week European vacation through France, Spain, and Italy. Head back to our Travel Page to find more accounts of our various adventures!

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