Sunday, October 16, 2005

18 days in Italy - Part 4 of 5 – Venice

From Florence to Venice, again I would take the train. It is about a 1 hour ride and you will see the beautiful country side, pass through Bologna and have the opportunity to relax. Venice is a unique city. One of the great powers in the 10th to 16th century, the Venetians built their city on an island in the middle of the bay as a defensive measure.

However this location provided a few difficulties. The city was, and still is, sinking. Every few hundred years a new city was built on top of the old one. Not by some strategic plan, just modernization. The Venetians would use the existing structures as a foundation and raise the new buildings 3 or 4 feet. Following the renaissance this was no longer possible as it would result in the loss of irreplaceable architecture, affreschi, and sculptures. To put this into perspective think of New Orleans where the streets are not paved but water channels. The bridges that connect the buildings together are slowly sinking to the level of the water. To combat this a wall of concrete baffles has been installed around the city. When the water rises because of high tide or storm surge the baffles are raised then as the water surge decreases the baffles lay down on the sea’s floor.

Venice is a tourist city. Very few Italians actually live there. The influx of tourism has been so great that the city limits the number of tourists that can enter Venice at any given time. This means that Venice is one of the most difficult places to find a good hotel or a good meal at a reasonable price. It is easy to find poor food and poor service at a very high price.

Stay in Mestre!!! Mestre is the residential and industrial section of Venice. The only exception to this would be to stay at the hotel Danieli on canal grande. You can arrive in by train in about 15 minutes, spend the day in Venice and then return to a wonderful hotel and some great restaurants that will not cost you an arm and a leg. I would stay at the hotel President, walking distance from the train station in Mestre and right next to the hotels entrance is a marvelous upscale restaurant with great seafood, a vast selection of wine and fantastic service. There are also many interesting restaurants in Corso del Popolo.

The traditional tourist routes in Venice just include Venice and Murano. This area has many fantastic things to see. So after you have seen Murano, the Museo del Vetro, Museo Fortuny, Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo Mocenigo, the Torre dell’Orologio and taken the motorboat taxi ride through the canals of Venice consider a day trip to San Daniele del Friuli , birthplace of the best prosciutto crudo. Portoguraro and the small towns along the coast are definitely worth a trip for an experience in seafood. Treviso, once the summer vacation spot of Italian nobility, is a laidback city with beautiful architecture, affreschi, and sculptures.

Venezia-Giulia-Friuli, the region of Northeastern Italy, is also the land of great white wines. In the morning it is not uncommon to have a bianchino, a glass of white wine, with breakfast or to correct your coffee with grappa, distilled wine. The vineyards of Toccai, Collio, and Refosco are all here. Whites and reds are crisp and flavorful, perfect with antipasti, dried meats, fish and most vegetables. Don’t be shy; try the local dishes. If you want a true culinary experience without precedence this is the place!


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Blogger ted1979 said...

Just dropping few lines to give you one tip about a pleasant stay in Venice. I guess that the best period to enjoy a relaxing atmosphere is October and November and during the spring time (but not during Easter… Venice get packed of tourists!). I’ve been in Venice 3 times and my last stay was in September 2005 and I spent a great week end in this hotel facing the Grand Canal and very close to railway station. I booked the hotel just surfing their site that is full of special offers!!

5:37 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Ted - Thank you for the comment. I agree that before or after the summer months are the best time. I would be a little careful in November, the temp. is dropping and it can get quite chilly!


6:53 AM


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