europe · italy · Travel

The prettiest places…Venice 2015 (Part 2)

The day dawns fine and sunny once more. Mr Fletche checks his weather app.  The weather is on the turn, and rain, clouds and thunderstorms are forecast for Florence.  Ah well, we’ve had a good run.  But let’s make the most of the sunshine today!

Today we’re off beyond Venice and into the lagoon.  As always, I’ve meticulously planned the route and know that the 4.1 waterbus goes to Murano.  The signs at the vaporetto stop are not entirely clear, and there are a lot of confused tourists clutching maps and comparing routes but there is a general consensus that the 4.1 does indeed go to Murano.  Until the boat pulls up and one unsure tourist asks the grumpy boat attendant if the boat goes to Murano, and he tells us all “no”.  Confusion ensues.  I’m game to get on anyway, and have one foot on the boat but Mr Fletche is stranded in the crowd beyond the grumpy boat attendant’s hastily erected barrier.  Plan B.  We get the 5.2 to Fondamente Nove where lo and behold, what is waiting to take us across to Murano?  Yes, the 4.1.  Clearly the earlier grumpy boat attendant didn’t want a bunch of confused tourists on his boat.  He needs to seriously think about changing to a less customer-focused job.  Or improving his customer service skills.

We disembark at Murano where we are enthusiastically greeted by our Italian friends encouraging us into their factories/showrooms for a small charge.  Yes, Murano is famous for its (sometimes pretty, sometimes hideous) glassware, but it’s also famous for its pushy salesmen.  We are shepherded into a courtyard almost without us being aware of it but whilst they are hassling our fellow tourists for a 3,00 euro admission fee we are sneaking out like kids playing truant from school.  We’re free!

We wander around the back streets for a while; all very pretty but not what I’d expected  – and then suddenly the maze of houses and alleyways open up into a network of picturesque canals and bridges surrounded by glassware and souvenir shops.    This is the postcard view!  You can’t go to Murano without purchasing at least one piece of (possibly pretty, possibly hideous) glassware; in true Fletche tradition we purchase a Murano glass Santa Claus bottle stopper to join our “Christmas around the World” collection (March 2016 Update.  The Murano Glass bottle stopper is no more after an incident involving trying to lodge it too far into a bottle of Prosecco over the festive period 😦 )

We stop for a coffee outside Al Soffiador on Calle Bressagio then make our way to the Faro vaporetto stop to catch the No 12 to continue our island tour.  There are a LOT of people waiting to make the 30 minute journey but the No 12 is a big boat, more akin to a small ferry than the waterbuses we’ve been used to.  We step off the boat at Burano, run the gauntlet of “Say No to Drugs” petition-wielding people, and then…. WOW.  Burano is quite possibly the prettiest place I’ve ever seen.  The rainbow coloured houses, their striped curtains rippling in the gentle breeze, the flower boxes and cute flower-filled courtyards – every direction is like a scene from a picture book.  A place like this is made for a picnic.  So that’s what we do.
We purchase sandwiches and beer from Devil’s Pizza, find a patch of grass under a shady tree and sit among the locals.  This is my new favourite place!  We spend the afternoon wandering in and out of colourful alleyways, losing Mr Fletche as he wanders off – this is a photographers paradise but I doubt that even the best photographer can capture the breath-taking colours (Mr Fletche, there’s a challenge for you right there!).

Eventually it’s time to leave, and we don’t really have the time to visit the third tourist island of Torcello… we’ll put that on the to-do list for next time.  We get a much-prized seat on the 45 minute journey back to Fondamente Nove.  We use a combination of water bus and walking to get back to the San Marco sestiere .  We stop for an afternoon Spritz at Campo Santo Stefano.  I love that once you move away from the high tourist-traffic areas such as St Mark’s and Rialto there are so many other squares lined with bars, cafes and restaurants.  You can peer into churches and see recitals.  Aperol Spritzes are cheaper…

We head back to our hotel; it’s our final night in Venice so we don’t want to waste any more time than we have to so we have a quick freshen up and change before heading back out once more.  Another reason not to linger in the hotel too long is that the air conditioning is not working and there are workmen banging around next to and above our room…

It’s time to go and find all the little areas that we said we’d go back to tonight.  We cross Rialto, so far so good.  Everything else has moved.  We keep on ending up at Grand Canal.  Venice has turned into some sort of labyrinth.  However, we do find potentially our best deal yet… 2,50 euro Spritz!  Ok, so we don’t get a basket of snacks with these but for 2,50 euros who’s complaining?  I have no idea what this place was, they seemed to do ciccetti ­ ­and also served more traditional meals, maybe we’d should stumbled into someone’s lounge?  Anyway, we left a crisp 5,00 euro note behind and continued our quest to find food.  We turn a corner – and we’re back at the Grand Canal.  We take the No 1 to Accademia; we know that yesterday we was definitely in this area.

Canals of Venice
Have we been here before?

Eventually we manage to shake off Grand Canal and find Campo Santa Margherita.  Not liking to repeat a restaurant, we avoid yesterday’s lunchtime venue of Fuori Rotta and instead we dine at Ristorante Pier Dickens.  We share the pizza frutti di mare (yay, a pizza senza formaggio!) and a tuna salad, and our waiter kindly offers to share the pizza out between our plates leaving space for the salad.  It’s my favourite meal so far, and surprisingly the cheapest. It’s amazing what happens when you wander slightly away from the tourist trail.

I’ve managed to talk Mr Fletche into a final night treat.  A drink on St Mark’s Square at Caffe Florian.  We know it’s pricey, we know they’re going to charge us 6,00 euro just to sit down, but for me it’s the quintessential Venetian experience.  We order two glasses of prosecco – the cheapest drinks on the menu at 11,00euro a pop – and savour every tiny sip whilst listening to the orchestra.  Mr Fletche still insists that the orchestra at Quadri has a better set (as they run through their repertoire of Michael Jackson interpretations) but I love the classy elegance of what is purportedly the oldest café in Europe.  For me, a gondola ride would have been an insanely expensive waste of money (although many people seem to enjoy it), but this was a wonderful way to spend our final night in this romantic city… a glass of bubbly with mio marito by my side.

Caffe Florian, St Marks Square, Venice
Sipping my 17euro prosecco VERY slowly at Caffe Florian

*

We wake up, sad that it is our last morning in Venice. Still, we are moving onto pastures new so we have our final apricot-filled croissant, purchase the obligatory fridge magnet (and, oops, a genuine Italian handbag has fallen into my shopping basket…) and pack up our suitcases once more.  The aircon is still on the blink, and we have to manoeuvre our suitcases around the ladder thoughtlessly positioned outside our room by the maintenance men now dangling from a hatch in the roof.  It seems like just moments since we were dragging our suitcases up these narrow alleyways, arriving as Venice virgins.  Now, we have been bewitched by the Venetian spell and bid the city a presto.

Next stop: Florence!

Italy Venice 2015 Pin.png

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