Venice, Italy – November 2015

Wow, Venice.  This place was unlike anywhere we had been before.  It was very different being in a city without cars.  The only traffic on land are pedestrians and the occasional person delivering or removing something via cart.

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We arrived to the city center by bus from the airport.  It was a pretty quick ride, only about 20-25 minutes.  From the bus stop on the outside of town, we decided to walk to our apartment.  This was fun and challenging because it is not easy to navigate the streets even with a map.

Look, it’s Jessica and me!

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This lion (at least I think it is a lion) is quite pleased that it has a man’s head.

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Venice has some interesting looking intercom systems.

Some streets are pretty narrow.  I guess this one would be more like an alley, but still super narrow!

We eventually made it to the area of our apartment, but we couldn’t find the exact location because it seemed that we didn’t have the exact address.  Andrew messaged the guy that was meeting us and he led us to the apartment.  The flat was pretty nice!  We thought the fire extinguishers were cute!!

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After settling in, we headed out to explore the city.  Walking around was fun and I loved the creepy atmosphere (at least I found it to be creepy at night due to no other people on the some of the streets).  I kept imagining that a vampire would pop out from the shadows and say, “Hello, darling.”  Either that or a madman or murderer… Please note that we didn’t feel unsafe at any time during our visit, I just got those vibes and I kind of like that sort of atmosphere (my favorite movie genre is horror after all).

This may look like a dead end…but it is not!

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We came across this place called Stickhouse and had to try it out.  The result was yummy.  I had pistachio gelato dipped in dark chocolate and topped with coconut!  I’m in love with coconut at the moment.  Andrew tried the coffee with dark chocolate and pistachio.  Too bad they don’t have any shops in Paris.

These glass spiders were super cool.

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Dinner that night was at Cantina Do Spade based on a recommendation by our host.  The food was okay, but I wasn’t a fan of the fried items at this place. The restaurant was very popular and we were lucky to have gotten a table.

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After dinner, we went for a walk around the city.  We came across someone playing music.  Click here to listen to a very small clip.

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This store had an interesting display in the window.  Hangers on the head are the new fashion?

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Eventually we made our way to Piazza San Marco / St. Mark’s Square.

This was cool!

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We stopped at a place for coffee and treats.  Everything was good, but this place ended up being an overpriced tourist trap.  That was okay though, it was our first night!

On our way back to the apartment we noticed that Venice had lit up a couple of its buildings in the French flag colors to honor the victims in the Paris attacks that took place on November 13th.  One of the victims was from Venice.  It was moving to see the support from all over the world for Paris.  Now if we could see that kind of support for anywhere that experiences horrors like that, then we would be moving towards a better place.

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Our apartment served a little breakfast in the morning.  It was a good start to the day!  Andrew liked the espresso machine!

Cute kitty!  A delivery guy stopped by to pet him or her, how nice.

This is the “plague doctor” mask and costume.  Some doctors during the 17th and 18th centuries wore these beak-like masks which were designed to protect them from becoming infected with the plague.

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Nice views from the Ponte dell’Accademia.

Food tours are pretty much a given for us now and Venice was no different.  We started our tour with our guides, Adam and Maya, at Bar Foscarini with a caffe corretto and a piece of pastry.  This establishment has been family owned for the past 25 years.

Our next stop was at Cantinone Gia Schiavi (3rd generation family owned & operated) for some cicchetti and wine!  The lady in the pink is the owner.  There were so many to choose from!  If I remember correctly, we tried the cod, tuna with cocoa, egg salad with wild flowers, and ricotta with sweet walnut spread.  Those descriptions may not be entirely accurate, but at least I think they are pretty close.  Everything was delicious!  My favorites were the ricotta and the egg salad.

This is the Squero di San Trovaso, one of the last remaining gondola boat yards.  Gondolas are built and repaired here by hand.  A typical gondola is built from nine different types of wood.  A gondola can cost around €20,000 or more.

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There’s a classic Venice picture!

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We stopped for some tramezzino at Bar Alla Toletta.  Tramezzini are chunky white bread sandwiches packed full of fresh ingredients.  This place claims to have invented the tramezzino.  Their sign says that the story of the sandwich in Venice starts here.  We tried one with horse meat and the called Fantasia with prosciutto.  Both were pretty good.  Yes, even the horse meat one.  This was our second time trying it and it was actually good.

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Interesting toilet…  Not the most interesting one we’ve ever seen, but still worth noting.

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One of the many water fountains in Venice!

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The floating vegetable barge (they also have fruit)!  I believe that it was family owned before and still remains family owned even with the change in ownership.  Apparently this barge shut down for a brief time when they changed hands in ownership and once they reopened there was a very long line!  The Venetians has missed their vegetable boat!  We tried some of the clementines.

The next stop was at Osteria Ai pugni for some little sandwiches and wine.  I do not exactly remember which kinds of sandwiches we tried, but they were good.  I think one was blue cheese & sun-dried tomatoes and the other might have been ham or porchetta.

This is the Bridge of Fists.  For generations, rival clans would settle their differences with a fist fight on the small bridges.  The bridge featured here is the most famous fighting bridge, the Ponte dei Pugni.  Four white marble footprints commemoratively mark the starting point for the fighters.  Maya and Adam demonstrated for us!

Il Doge was our stop for gelato!  I can’t remember what Andrew had (maybe the crema del doge), but I had the amarenata (cherries) and it was delicious.

This is a special water fountain.  If you plug the bottom it becomes an actual drinking fountain.  Adam told us that he didn’t learn that until he saw a small child do it (the children always figure things out before the adults it seems).

Nice church.

Do you see the slots on each side of the door?  That is where residents put a barrier when they have acqua alta.  This occurs when an exceptionally high tide causes flooding.  I would not want to have to deal with this… The first picture is without the barrier and the second is showing a door with the barrier.

Adam is telling us about the wells.  Venice did not have a source of fresh water, so they collected rain water in wells throughout the city.  They were opened twice a day to collect the water.  The little bowl-like groove at the bottom was used to leave the cats in the town water.  The cats were brought from Croatia to take care of the rat problem.  It was forbidden to feed the cats.

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This is a walk way!

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We had a small lunch at La Patatina.  This consisted of prosecco and three types of pasta.

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That is an old garbage chute.

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Continuing our tour…

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I thought this was pretty cool.

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Occasionally we would see arches in between two different buildings.  Adam told us that this symbolized the bond between two different families.  The more arches, the stronger the bond.  Basically if you picked a fight with one, you would have to answer to the other as well.

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It was time to pick up a little pastry.  Adam took us to Pasticceria Rizzardini to take care of this need.  The bakery was very busy.  We also got to see the chef.  Adam told us to save our treats to have at our last stop.

These little structures in the corners of roads/alleys are called anti-urinals.  They were constructed to deter men from urinating in public by having the urine splash back or run onto the perpetrators feet/legs.  I had been wondering what those were for and was glad that Adam explained it to us.  Definitely not a place to take a rest!

This is one way to get a barrel through the door!  How neat!

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We didn’t eat here, but Adam told us it was like something out of Harry Potter.

Caffè Vergnano was our last stop.  We finally got to eat our treats from the bakery.  I don’t remember what each one was called (my phone broke with all of my notes before I got to write this), but the one in the middle had coconut and was awesome!  The ball on the right was called pallone di Casanova (Casanova’s balls) which is a ball of soft chocolate pastry rolled in candy sprinkles.

Accompanying our treats was a Spritz.  Spritz is a wine-based cocktail usually served as an aperitif. It is made with prosecco wine, a dash of some bitter liqueur (usually Select when in Venice), then topped off with sparkling mineral water, and garnished with an olive or orange (we have both here).

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After our food tour we were approached by a gondolier to take a ride.  Business was a little slow so they offered us a discount and we decided to take the tour right then.  This was so much fun and worth the money even if we had paid full price.  Our gondolier’s name was Fabio.  Click here for a little video of our ride.

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That night we headed across the Grand Canal to have dinner based on a recommendation from Adam.  But we fist stopped at a gelato place (also recommended by him) for a small treat.  I had the mascarpone & ricotta miele e sesame.  It was good!

We decided to try some traditional Venetian dishes for dinner (pretty sure they were traditional).  Our appetizer was the sardines in “saor” stuffed with onions and raisins with polenta.   I had the spaghetti with carbonara sauce and Andrew had the squid in ink Venetian style with polenta.  We also had a dessert, but I don’t remember the name (they lit it on fire though!).  I think it was some type of crêpe.

On Tuesday morning we went to the market!  This was probably the best seafood market we’ve seen so far in all of our travels.  Everything was so fresh and some catches were still alive!  Check out these videos:

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There was a butcher shop that specialized in horse meat.  Ha ha…it looks like the guy is wearing a horse head.

We stopped for a picture on one of the many bridges in Venice.  There are 409 bridges total, along with some 150 canals and 117 small islands.  The islands form the shape of a fish which is Venice!

Doors…

Waiting for our tour guide near Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli – Andrew picked us up a snack to have while we waited.

On our walking tour we saw the American & California flag!  Now where’s that Missouri one…

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This was a great view of the Grand Canal.

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This house was said to have been the house of Marco Polo.

There’s Fabio again giving another couple a ride!  Click here to see the video of him ducking under the bridge.

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The top floor of most buildings was reserved for the servants.  The windows were typically smaller.

This is another well in Venice.

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The walking tours in each city are great.  You really get to see a different side of a city.  I prefer walking tours over bus tours anytime (granted a bus tour wasn’t even an option in Venice).

This is the most beautiful bookshop in the world!  Well, at least that’s what they claim.  It is a pretty cool shop with a gondola in the middle of the room.  The area out back is also interesting with a staircase of books.

And what bookshop isn’t complete without an erotic corner?

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Our tour went quicker than planned so our guide ended up taking us to Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) as well.

These people were very popular with the pigeons!   Click here for the video.

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The Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) in Piazza San Marco.

These are used during the acqua alta.  It is that time of year!  It is good to be prepared.

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St. Mark’s Basilica.

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Doge’s Palace.

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Prisoners were executed between these two pillars.  Our guide told us that most Venetians think of it as bad luck to walk between the pillars.

This statue on the side of the Doge’s Palace was interesting.

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View of the island, San Giorgio Maggiore from Venice.

This is Ponte dei Sospiri, otherwise known as the Bridge of Sighs.  The name of this bridge is based on the story that prisoners, crossing the bridge, sighed at seeing for the last time the outside world.

This is how a caffe latte is served.

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Going over Ponte dell’Accademia again!  This bridge has the best views.  Not as busy today (at least at the moment).

We had to get some more cicchetti!  We went a little crazy.  All of these were excellent.

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I loved this unicorn head over the door!

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Even though it was pretty chilly, we still stopped for some gelato and hot chocolate.  Luckily Grom is also in Paris!

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We made our way to Bigoi to try some fast food pasta.  I tried the duck ragout and Andrew had the amatriciana.  He also got one with cod to go.

All of the masks are pretty cool.  The more traditional one is the white one in the front.  It allowed for room to drink easily without removing the mask.

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Trash is hung up outside the apartments/houses for pickup.

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Venice was a beautiful city and we are lucky to have visited!  We really enjoyed the winding streets and atmosphere.

It was a little foggy at the airport, but our flight took off just fine.

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When we returned to Paris, we decided to go and see the Eiffel Tower lit up in blue, white, and red to honor the victims in the attacks the Friday before.  They were of course projecting the colors onto the tower.  It was very beautiful.

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