I love Venice. Yes, it’s touristy, full of shops selling Murano glass and venetian masks, cheap souvenir carts, day trippers from the many cruise ships; food mostly sucks if you don’t know where to eat. It’s expensive and yes, it’s romantic in a very stereotypical way with its web of narrow streets and myriads of canals, postcard squares, dreamy bridges and unique architecture.
But for me, Venice it’s simply the destination of my very first mum & daughter trip, a tradition that I hope to continue one day when I’ll have my own kids. I was 6, we left my baby sister at home with grandma and spent the following 4 days exploring the city and the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello.
It was also the first time I ate at a Chinese restaurant with chopsticks, I visited a synagogue and tried Jewish food. I loved the Ghetto so much, I kept asking my mum if we could become Jewish and move there. Venice was incredibly exotic and exciting in the eyes of my 6 year old self, and I was utterly jealous that local kids were going to school by vaporetto (boat). I went back to Venice many times after that, with school, with my first boyfriend, with the rest of the family (dad and sister), with friends, with one more boyfriend. But that very first trip was the only one that I still remember and treasure today. A couple of weeks ago I landed in the city on my way to a ski weekend with friends. It was a fantastic opportunity for a quick half a day visit before heading to the slopes.
Having left our luggage at Santa Lucia train station, our first stop couldn’t be anything but the Venetian Ghetto – the first one to be instituted in 1516 – which still counts a population of 500 people and it’s still very culturally active today. Here we enjoyed breakfast #3 of the day at Panificio Giovanni Volpe, a kosher bakery.
With full bellies, we headed towards Rialto bridge, taking some detours (read getting lost) a few times in narrow ‘calli‘, heading to our second stop, a bàcaro (cicchetti bar), Cantina Do Spade.
Cicchetti are Venetian tapas made with the day’s market finds – and Cantina Do Spade is super close to Rialto fish Market! It doesn’t get any fresher than this. Venetians usually enjoy them for aperitivo, lunch or as an afternoon snack, with a glass of Prosecco or a Spritz.
Another interesting finding is Taverna del Campiello Remer, hidden away in a secluded square along the Grand Canal. A great spot for dinner (avoid the buffet lunch), if you happen to be in the area, they serve huge portions and food is amazing. Warning, it’s very romantic, but not in a cheesy way. No visit to Venice is complete without sampling Crema Fritta, fried custard, at Rosticceria Gislon. This popular dessert was first introduced by the Spanish Jews living in the Ghetto, a few centuries back. It’s very popular during the famous Venetian Carnival. Rosticceria Gislon, is also a really good spot for lunch, but it gets incredibly crowded, so it’s best to get there early. After an obligatory walk around Piazza San Marco and Ponte dei Sospiri, it was time to head to the mountains, just after one last Spritz.