What a day.
Getting from Florence (see last post) to Venice isn’t really all that complicated. One can fly, hire a driver, take the train, or rent a car and do the driving. With all we wanted to accomplish, option 4 got the nod.
Except on this and every Sunday, one needs to backtrack to the airport to access most car rentals. No problem as we were heading in that direction. But then the words, “Is this the biggest car you have?” Well, we’ll manage. Four adults, four full size suitcases and one carry-on each required some engineering to make it all fit. All I can say is, the hubby is one helluva good sport (see below). I drove, Sam navigated and the hubby and Hannah were in the back, wedged in between luggage.
Below — our engineering feat; a very compliant hubby; and finally in the Venice water taxi
What a day. Did I mention this was Mother’s Day?
Our ambitious itinerary: First to Pisa (how can one not see Pisa?) for the photo op. Then the walled city of Lucca, but that didn’t happen. A marathon was taking place and access was impossible. Then to the designer outlet mall (again, how can one not? But where will we fit any purchases??). Then an attempt at Bologna, but the timing was terrible. No parking. I mean NONE.
So, on to Venice. Here’s a tip: Do not show up in Venice without first securing parking! It is easy. We needed the car for our tour the following day so we kept it overnight. And then walking the bags from the garage to the water taxis. And then the ride to the hotel, the Bauer Palazzo on the Grand Canal. Here’s some irony: the rooms were larger and less expensive than in Florence. A win/win for sure. But between the endless tolls and the water taxi, it was a lot of euros. A lot.
As a Venice aside, in case one wonders about the future of this magnificent destination, two luxury hotel brands are making major investments as we speak. The Bauer Palazzo where we stayed was just acquired. It will shut down at the end of this year and reopen in 2025 as a Rosewood Hotel property. Likewise, the Danieli — a few doors away also on the Grand Canal — is shutting down and reopening in 2025 as a Four Seasons. So it seems the future of Venice is bright.
What was on our itinerary? A visit to see the artistry of Murano glass being created. A visit to the remarkable Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Several strolls through St. Marks square (Piazza San Marco). Photo ops everywhere. A gondola ride (I know, but how can one not?) And one helluva dinner (among some great meals).
Above, a Murano artist at work; below, outstanding pizza at 1000 Gourmet
Da Ivo is famous most notably for being a celebrity go-to, long before George Clooney and his pals dined there the night before his wedding. If one is to believe the proprietor, the group just showed up, with maybe a five-minute advance warning. One can enter the restaurant directly from a small canal, as in stepping off a water taxi right next to where I happened to be sitting (see below). There’s also an entrance from the front walkway. It is very small inside with maybe seating for 40 people. It is both formal (as in staff in suits and ties) but not stuffy. An LA restauranteur friend connected us with the propietor Giovanni Fracassi.
That introduction led to a tour of the kitchen — modern, upgraded and producing incredible food in such a small space. He also took us into the wine cellar, which is out the back and over a small bridge to a nearby building. Oh, the magic of what is required to run a restaurant in Venice. It is eye-popping. That was a wonderful experience.
Above, simply delicious tuna tartare; below, the jam-packed wine cellar.
With Gianni in the kitchen above; words to live by below.
Venice doesn’t require much pre-planning to be enjoyed. The views, the strolling, the people-watching, the endless shops. Just go where the mood takes you. As we did until it was time to say good-bye. The hubby and I headed home after 24 days of travel; the kids headed to Milan via the train for a couple of days to wind up their two-week trip. One final water taxi for all, with the last stop at the airport. Suffice it to say, where else can one take a water taxi to get on an airplane? Only in Venice …