14 May 2013
25 April 2013
On one of the days while in Venice we ‘day tripped’ to the islands of Murano and Burano. We decided to go very early for some photo opportunities. Unfortunately arriving on Murano first at a rather early hour (with kids heading off to school – on a Saturday!?) meant that not much was going on. It did allow for some photos of buildings but I didn’t really ‘get’ it. It seemed like every shop only had some glass to sell.
We then headed to Burano with half of the island of Murano it seemed. We decided to get off the first stop (of two) for the island which I am really glad we did. In fact the whole route we took around the island meant that we went around ‘quieter’ streets (although there were still ‘sufficient’ tourists around) before hitting the ‘tourist traps’. I would highly recommend this because it just meant that it felt more like a place where people live (and do a lost of washing of sheets). The map above shows the route we took.
Burano is pretty dang amazing. The houses are all really colourful and it is like a bit of a fairytale. The amazing spring like weather wasn’t too bad either (the video I made was mostly shot on Burano).
24 April 2013
I like to think of myself as a bit of a gelato expert. I have no idea how to make the lovely stuff (although I have dreams of having a gelateria in Italy one day) but i have tasted an awful lot of it from a large number of establishments (particularly in Italy). I feel it is my duty to try as many gelaterias as possible when on holiday in order to find some of the best. It is always the first thing I research when I head to my favourite country.
Before we move onto the best gelato in Venice, it is important to note that gelato is not ice-cream. This is a really useful infographic, but basically gelato uses less butter fat (so is better for you!), has less air and is served at a higher temperature than ice-cream. This means that it melts quicker once in your mouth and the flavour is released faster giving you an instant flavour punch plus is a lot creamier.
Okay, to the places we tried. I can’t guarantee, of course, that I had the best gelato in Venice but I can certainly recommend a few places. I made a map! I have numbered them in the order that we tried them, although I have realised that I have know left one off (it was more ice-cream than gelato so avoid the red lettered gelateria in the corner on St Stefano Palazzo). (Yup that is dedication, 4 nights – 6 gelato tastings!).
- Alaska Gelateria was one of the internet suggestions I found. On the first day in Venice we ended up walking for a very long time and after finding a place for lunch I realised we weren’t far from this place. Unfortunately it was a bit disappointing. The flavours were interesting enough but I would say that it was a little too much ice-cream and didn’t have the smooth and creamy texture that a gelato should have.
- Ca d’Oro had a very modern and sleek interior (which I quite like). The flavours were a bit safer but it was much of an improvement on the first try. I went for my favourite combination of pistachio and chocolate. I would have preferred a more intense chocolate but it was definitely good.
- We had gelato from Majer after an hour plus walk to try and find the Museum of Fabric and Costume, which we then discovered was closed until May and then went to the Natural History Museum instead. Sitting in the nearest palazzo eating gelato was the perfect remedy for my sore feet. I have a feeling it might be a chain (although I didn’t see any other gelaterias with the name I had spotted some deli type stores with the same name) but it was still pretty good. Again only a small selection was available but it was delicious.
- Grom is a chain that we have tried before in Bologna. On our last day as we passed one on our way to number 5, concern that number 5 would be as disappointing as number 1 made me suggest a ‘sure thing’ for our last day. There was a good queue outside and their flavours include some standards as well as some more adventurous ones.
- As it happened we then passed Gelateria il Doge which had a massive queue of Italians outside. I had to try it. I ended up getting their ‘Crema il Doge’ (or something close to that) which was a cream flavour with chocolate saucy bits and orange peel. I love traditional Italian flavours that might not be so well known to the foreigner and really enjoyed this.
I didn’t get to to trying all the suggestions on the internet (partly because I couldn’t seem to find them before but there seem more that came up in my searches now), but tried a few places. So when you head to Italy and you don’t have any suggestions of where to go here are some tips for spotting the good gelaterias from the tourist traps:
- Because gelato is served warmer than ice-cream it melts faster. Those shops with mile high towers of frozen dessert are unlikely to have the creamy texture of gelato because they would just melt. Unless there is a massive queue (preferably of Italians) avoid it.
- Look at the colour of the gelato. If you spot bright blue bubblegum carry on walking. A good marker is always the pistachio. It should have a subtle light green colour (as shown below).
- When put in a cup/cone it should have a softer consistency than ice-cream. This doesn’t form perfect little ice-cream balls but is more pliable and has a more rustic look.
- Look for some unique flavours. Why would you want to go to Italy and have plain chocolate when you can have cioccolata noir with little chocolate nibs for an intense chocolate hit.
- Ask an Italian eating gelato!
I hope you find this useful if setting off for Venice (or Italy generally) and would love any suggestions if you have been. You never know when I’ll head back.
23 April 2013
I got a little Satoralist while in Venice. Man those Venetians sure know how to dress. And the older generation where particularly swish. Even the tourists had their style on. I suggest when travelling to Venice you pack your your fancy shoes. Sadly Tim went for comfort, but it seemed the street performer did too.
22 April 2013
So we went to Venice and I didn’t love it! Is that some horrible sin? I am not too sure what I was expecting. We normally do a bit more research into a place prior to going to see what we want to do but the last few weeks have been a bit hectic so we didn’t get around to our usual planning. I feel I will go back to give it a second chance, but perhaps when I am older and have amassed a small fortune. It is definitely a pricey town.
Because hotel prices were so expensive (with school holidays) we stayed on the island of Lido. It was actually quite pleasant and I would suggest staying there. The waterbus from Lido to St Marco’s Square is only about 20 minutes and wouldn’t be a commute I would mind too much if I had to do it everyday. It is a bit like staying in the suburbs in terms of what is there (although there are restaurants, gelaterias and the beaches). The transport was also really pricey, although very efficient and easy to understand if you can navigate any city metro or tube system.
Perhaps the ‘worst’ part was buying the VeniceCards. As mentioned we hadn’t really done our research but I had read that with the VeniceCard you get reduced travel if you were 29 or under. At the airport we decided to get them, which for two of €70! The list of museums seemed fairly long and we thought it would be worth the spend (as I had bought a similar card in Paris which is extremely worth it). However, it didn’t give access to St Mark’s and L’ Accademia or the Peggy Guggenheim Museum (although there is a discount for the latter and a number of other places). The first museum we visited was the Jewish Museum (which I sadly wouldn’t recommend, simply not being very interestingly curated). It cost €4 at full price. We started to feel a bit cheated. We also visited the Doge’s Palace (which is pretty impressive) and the Natural History Museum, after discovering the Fabric and Costume was closed until May (so close!). Tim sadly misplaced the tickets after that. And although I was mad initially I soon was quite happy that we weren’t pressured into going to every museum on the list to get our money’s worth. I did think I would do a calculation to show whether it is ‘worth’ it so check that out at the end of the post.
Generally we felt that Venice is too focussed on tourists, which is nice and all, but that translates into gouging tourists for money. Overpriced gondola rides and substandard meals which are (you guessed it) overpriced and lots of tourist tat for sale. In some ways it felt a bit like a theme park. Some elements also seemed rather dated – chintz featured high in our hotel room (which admittedly because we couldn’t afford a gorgeous modern apartment I went full on chintz).
I feel like I only scratched the surface of the islands but I don’t feel like it was easy to get into. I generally have an incredible sense of direction. On holiday I seem to be like a homing pigeon. But with Venice’s winding alleys it was really difficult to get off the ‘tourist tracks’ when you were trying to head somewhere specific. I would say we did on perhaps two occasions and at those times I really enjoyed the quieter walkways and the glimpse into local Venetians lives. In particular one afternoon we found ourselves in a little palazzo by the San Giacomo dell’Orio. Children must have just finished school because there were children running around and playing with parents and grandparents watching. It was really loud but felt like ‘real Italy’.
That all feels horribly negatives but Venice is beautiful. And even though it is a little warn around the edges a sense of awe sinks in when you realise the history of the place and that it is all sitting there so precariously with the threat of flooding always prominent (in fact what we thought were hideous benches everywhere we later discovered to be flood paths which they set up when the water comes in so they can walk around).
Plus no cars! At all on the main island! Amazing.
The adult card costs €39 and the junior (which is 29 and under) is €29 which gives a discount (of avout £12) on the 3 day travel card (although you apparently also have to buy a £4 guide book!).
Included in the ticket are the following places:
Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr, National Archaelogical Museum, Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana – combined ticket price: €16
Ca’ Rezzonico – Museum of 18th-Century Art: €8
Palazzo Mocenigo: closed until May, ticket prices not available
Carlo Goldoni’s House: €5
Ca’ Pesaro – international Gallery of Modern Art: €8
Glass Museum: €8
Lace Museum: €5
Museum of Natural History: €8
A selection of of 16 churches. These normally charge a couple euro to get in but prices weren’t available online.
That is a total of €58 excluding the churches. I would say it is worthwhile if you are both 29 or under and plan to visit a couple of museums (do your research before though). The ticket does also allow you to skip the queue, which might be more of an issue in summer when the crowds are probably more numerous.
21 April 2013
My first video! A little montage of spring on the Venetian island of Burano. It is such a beautiful island. It was a perfect spring day when we went – really warm with a bit of a breeze.
I recorded this on my phone with the android app Camera Illusion. I’ll share a post on Posts Production soon giving an overview of the app if you are interested.
It is going to be a bit of a Venice week ahead with maps and gelato and stylish Venetians so hope you enjoy.