MY VENEZIA TRIP
Thursday 28th January 2016 , flight departure from Manchester Airport Terminal 1, destination Venezia Marco Polo.
January is an ideal month to visit this magical city on water, less tourists, less hot, and the peak of Carnival where Venetian masks and costumes are in every calle (street) ready to be photographed by eager tourists and locals.
We land around 8 pm, but before boarding the “Venezia Express” airport shuttle coach which takes you to the main square Piazzale Roma , I grab a ticket from one of the self service ticket stand in the arrivals hall costing me 8 euros one way, tickets are purchased before boarding any form of transport in Italy and validated ( a little yellow machine box usually found by the stop ).
We all board, waiting for the driver, he is having a “coffee beak” and finishing off his cigarette whilst he talks animatedly to his other colleagues about the political situation of his country ,this is the norm here (one time I was on my way to town on the bus, the driver pulls over in the middle of a little village, and crosses the road to grab a coffee at the bar, whilst his passengers waited).
We arrive at the square and I grab a vaporetto (water bus) for Piazza San Marco, the journey usually takes 40 mins with line 1 or 2 taking you to the tourist scenic spots.
The next day, my plans where not to visit the tourist hotspots, I have lived and visited this city so many times, my objective was the culinary side of things and maybe photograph anything that caught my eye. First stop, collazione, breakfast, wondering in one of the backstreets of the city (usually where the locals hangout and prices are cheaper) I grab a caffe’ macchiato at “Caffetteria San Leonardo” and a frittella, a fried doughnought with patisserie cream, found in every pasticceria and coffee shop around this time of year due to the Carnival, there is even the “Galani” a thin crispy sweet fried pastry with vanilla flavoured icing sugar, the air is filled with the smell of these pastries.
I wonder by foot on my voyage of discovery, it is much cheaper than using the vaporetto and being a small island you will get from one side to the other in a matter of 30 minutes. It is lunch time and I have walked an appetite, a good indication if a trattoria or a restaurant is reasonable in price and the food is amazing, is to see the locals ( not the tourists) eating there, I stumble by “Osteria Bea Vita” by Cannaregio and it is jam packed Bingo!! I will eat here. I had to wait 10 minutes for a table but this only confirmed my intuition that this was the place to eat. Whilst in Venice it is a must to eat fish, it is their speciality as we are on the sea. With a starters of scallops in almond sauce and a pasta alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) as mains finished off with a caffe’ (as for us Italians it aids digestion and signifies the end of a good meal) I did indeed felt satisfied.
8pm and the streets begin to come to life, with animated hand gestures of the locals whilst they chat to music playing from every bar on every corner of the streets, its “aperitivo time” a pre-dinner drink, one of my favourite time of the day. A typical drink from this region is the Aperol spritz an orange drink with 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts aperol and 1 part soda water, served with ice and a slice of orange, in Italy anyone having an alcoholic drink will be served a cicchetti (a nibble consisting of either olives, crisps, mini pizza slice, bruschetta etc..). Because the alcohol is so cheap here I cheekily order another followed by more cicchetti.
I still had room in my stomach for dinner, and the hunt for a pizzeria was well underway, there are so many pizzeria here in Venice and to find a good one with a wood fired oven was a challenge, but after asking around for recommendations, we found it. A classic “quattro stagioni” consisting of artichokes, olives, ham and mushrooms was ordered and as a last meal before heading back to the UK the next way was the right way to end this short but well worth it trip. (The only problem was the diet started on Monday!!!)