A Warm Summer Day in Venezia

It’s summer in Venezia and by 9:00 am, the tourists are already out exploring the city. We feel very fortunate to stay where we are staying: NH Venezia Palazzo Barocci. It’s a former Venetian palace that once hosted Vivaldi’s operas.

Following our GPS, we walked to San Marco. Inside the Basilica they turn on the lights for one hour a day so that you can see the golden mosaics in all their glory. This year they charged to see the altarpiece covered with gold and jewels, but it was nice because we could look closely at it rather than being herded past it with the crowds.

To get to the outside balcony, you must climb the steepest stone steps, but at the top, the view makes it all worthwhile. I sat in the shade and admired the view. Many of the Venetian homes have roof top gardens. I like to contemplate what it would be like to live here. In the museum at the top of the Basilica we saw the horses that Napoleon stole. They once sat on top the Arc d’ Triomphe in Paris. The horses were returned in 1815 and sit inside the museum to protect them from the elements.

After visiting the Swatch store, we decided to follow the advice of a young man in Swatch and check out a cafe in a quiet area. We didn’t actually find the one he suggested, but loved the one we found: Ristorante Da Mario Alla Fava. We had pasta with fresh cut cherry tomatoes, and cold pasta tossed with pine nuts, tomatoes, and arugula.

Scuola Dalmatia Delhi Santi Giorgio e Triffon was a 500 year old building where an old fraternity used to meet. It features paintings by Carpaccio telling about the life of St. . George. It was very dark and as the Irish would say “close” ( hot and humid) in there. Walking through it you knew you were in the presence of a very old place with old woodwork, stone steps, velvet flocked wallpaper, and heavy red curtains. The woman who sold tickets huddled near a small fan.

For a special treat we decided to go to the roof top terrace of Hotel Danieli. It is right off San Marco and overlooks the lagoon. The hotel is very old world and elegant. To stay there costs over $1000 per night. The concierge was dressed in a crisp tailored suit, but when we asked if we could go the rooftop bar, they could not have been more welcoming. Napkins were brought to us on tongs and the peach Bellinis were made from freshly sliced peaches. Since it was so hot we ordered a fruit plate of fresh pineapple, peaches, kiwi, passion fruit, and melon. The whole experience was a splurge, but the sweeping view of the lagoon made it all worthwhile. Car ferries crossed paths with old wooden but beautifully polished water taxis, vaporettos, and even gondolas.

Venice is overrun with tourists and some of the locals are feeling that some tourists are disrespectful. Because of this, there are new rules and when enforced, carry stiff fines. Some rather logical ones are no picnicking in the middle of Piazza San Marco and no jumping in canals while others have surprised tourists. Today we saw some people shooed away from sitting around a historic fountain, and dragging suitcases on wheels through historic piazzas is not allowed, Last week two people were arrested on the steps of Rialto for making coffee with a camp stove which I think sounds crazy someone would think to do that there.

Dinner tonight was in Campo San Polo at Birraria La Corte. It’s a pretty campo where children play soccer after dark and people sit on park benches just enjoying the ambience. At the restaurant we sat outside where we could people watch. One American college student called out to the waiter as she sat down, “Bring me a big bottle of water!” We took a vaporetto back to our hotel to see Venice from the water. It was the perfect ending to a really special day.

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