A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about venice

A taste of Italy

Bologna, Ravenna and Venice plus a bit of food and wine

sunny 19 °C

Sue's Visit

It was with great excitement that I saw Sue’s smiling and enthusiastic face at Bologna Airport in May. It was lovely to catch-up on all the Sydney news after a year away.

An action-packed week was planned with a tour of Bologna, cooking class, regional food tour, and trips to Ravenna and Venice amongst the activities organised. On day one we took Sue on a tour of Bologna including her first true taste of Italian coffee and a brioche con crema at Gamberini (the oldest bakery in Bologna). This was followed by a visit to the Archiginnasio - a 16th century building commissioned by Pope Pius IV including a fascinating anatomical theatre. A walk up to the top of San Luca and then lunch at Trattoria Fantoni may have left our guest with a slightly swirling head with all the stimuli!

Bologna Sights

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Once again we enjoyed fantastic dinner at Drogheria della Rosa, where the gregarious owner Emanuele took a bit of a shine to Sue presenting her with a free bottle of red.

Dinner

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It was a foodie week, and Wednesday we undertook a pasta making course at La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese. Making fettuccine, tortolloni and tortellini was hard work, but at the end we could enjoy the fruits of our labour and mangiamo (eat) the fine fare that we had produced.

Cooking School

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Thursday morning was an early start at 7am - we were waiting outside the apartment to be picked up by our limo service for the start of our 'Taste of Italy' Tour. This tour commenced with an insight into the production of the beautiful Parmigiano-Reggiano. Sue and I put on our special outfits for the day and then entered into the factory looking very glamorous!

The production of the cheese is extremely skilled with fresh milk coming in daily from approved cows, and only one man qualified to lift and cut the cheese from the amazing copper pots. The cheese is certainly beautiful and it was amazing to see the work and care that goes into the production.

Parmigiano-Reggiano

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Following the cheese factory we went to the balsamic vinegar factory - or aceto balsamico. The balsamico is aged from one to twenty five years in special barrels called batterias. Each year the basilico is moved from the bigger barrels down to the smaller, and these are stored in the attic to allow for variations in temperature and certain bacterias to play their part.

These vinegars are certainly far superior to the average bottle that you buy in the supermarket, and a taste-test with strawberries and ice cream (believe it or not) certainly delighted the tour group.

Aceto Balsamico

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Our final destination was the prosciutto factory, and then a five-course lunch at a local trattoria. Our local tour guide kept us entertained with stories and jokes, and we were finally rolled back into the car in a food-filled stupor for the trip home. Not even room for one little wafer at the end!

Lunch and Prosciutto

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On Friday we took the train to Ravenna so Sue could see the beautiful frescoes, and we also undertook a bit of shopping (thanks Sue for my beautiful birthday bag). As if we hadn’t eaten enough food the day before, we 'had' to enjoy a delicious lunch in another local trattoria. That night we picked up Sue’s friend Annerose from the airport ready for our girls' weekend in Venice.

Up early we packed Dan and the kids off for their weekend in Le Marche with friends from the school. Sue, Annerose and I then had a quick tour of Bologna altough heavy rain limited our tourist possibilities. Catching the train to Venice (12 euro each – thanks Italo) we arrived and found our way via traghetto to our accommodation. Leaving our bags in the room, our first stop was prosecco and pizza to celebrate my birthday. A bit of a rest and then dinner at a local restaurant (fortunately we stumbled onto a good one ranked high on TripAdvisor). Following dinner we wandered through the streets and into St Mark's Square, although heavy rain ensured we were rather damp on our return.

Venice - Day 1

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Sunday morning we had booked a two-hour walking and gondola tour. This was a terrific way to see the sights and hidden streets away from the maddening tourist crowds.

Walking tour and Gondola

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Following our tour we found a great little spot for lunch. This provided the fuel for the rest of the day where walked many of the streets and saw lots of sights. Dinner topped off the day (again by chance we found one of the top-rated restaurants in Venice), and we then caught a ferry back late at night to our accommodation.

Venice Sights

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Sue and Annerose departed early for their trip back to Germany, and I caught the ferry to Murano - the famous island that produces most of the Venetian glass. It was lovely wandering the streets and taking in the sights, plus it wasn’t too overrun with tourists in the morning. An action-packed week, but I think Sue certainly experienced the tastes and sights of Italy.

Murano

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Posted by happellfamily12 09:56 Archived in Italy Tagged venice bologna ravenna Comments (0)

Quattro Citta, Tre Paesi in Quattro Giorni

Venice, Vienna, Bratislava (Slovakia), and Bergamo

sunny 27 °C

It's not a bad life when you can have dinner in Venice, arrive in Vienna for breakfast, have lunch in Bratislava and finish off with dinner in Bergamo. This was how we spent our recent long weekend (yes, the school does have never-ending holidays).

The kids had been desperate to catch an overnight train; so after undertaking some financial investigation Dan discovered that the cheapest overnight train was from Venice to Vienna (the added plus was that it was operated by OBB Austria, not the locals!). Departing after school on Wednesday, we just made the Bologna/Venice train - fortunately arriving at 6pm. The weather was beautiful, and a far cry from the last time we were here with the grannies ('acqua alta' and 6 degree temperatures). A walk through the streets, pizza, beer for me (Dan not drinking due to training - such dedication) and a few photos later and we were ready to board the overnight train.

Venice

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The kids were giddy with excitement and we soon settled into our little carriage. The beds were narrow and Dan and I were assigned to the top bunks - sleeping in missionary position was a must as one small roll could see one dropping over the edge. The children certainly slept better then us, but it was still a fun experience and waking up to breakfast in Vienna was great fun.

Overnight Train
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Our accommodation was not available until 2pm, so leaving our bags we filled in the time with a morning coffee, a play in a local park, and walks through Vienna's pristine and beautiful streets (with the song 'Vienna' buzzing in our heads - see below). A visit to the Prater (amusement park) for rides and an excellent Wiener Schnitzel. A little rest after lunch, a clean-up and some free time for Dan, and we were then ready to search out a place for dinner (ending up in the charming pedestrian-only Spittelberggasse).

Vienna Day 1 - Amusement Park, Gardens & Dinner

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Feeling well-rested the following morning, we ventured out to see the Spanish horses undertake training in the Hofburg Palace. The Spanish Riding School is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses. The school puts on performances in classical dressage. However these performances are very expensive and booked out months in advance, so seeing the training is a cheaper option at 50 euro for the family. Overall this was a disappointing experience (no photos allowed) - even though we were in a beautiful arena the horses just trotted around and around, and the most exciting part for the kids was when the horse did a poo. Not sure if we had a dud day or dud horses. Refuelling with coffee and a biscuit we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and tranquility in the nearby Volksgarten.

Vienna Day 2 - Gardens and Hofburg Palace

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We then boarded the local underground for a trip to the Schönbrunn Palace. This palace was the Habsburg dynasty's summer residence and the Hofburg palace was their principal winter residence. This palace is also surrounded by magnificent gardens, and contains the Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Vienna Zoo) - one of the oldest zoos in the world - and it is here where we spent lunch and the afternoon. One of the highlights was definitely the seal show, where one of the (biggest) sea lions leaps into the air to grab the fish, and splashes down wetting all the unsuspecting tourists below. Some of the children thought this was terrific fun as they were drenched in fishy water; a lovely cool shower on a 27 degree day. Dinner again alfresco, with a refreshing beer for me and lemonade for Dan.

Tiergarten Schönbrunn

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Our time in Vienna ended too quickly, and we certainly could have had a few more days here to cover off many of the fabulous attractions. We completed the morning with a coffee and beautiful apple pastries before catching a train for Bratislava (still singing Oh Vienna). Our time in Bratislava was short but sweet, and lunch was the first port of call (spicy chicken, beef goulash, chicken schnitzel) in a beautiful street next to St Michael's Gate. After lunch we walked the streets of the old town, saw the magnificent Danube River, and climbed the hill to the Castle of Bratislava. Finishing our tour at the brand new Bratislava airport for our last (fortunately) Ryanair flight to Bergamo.

Bratislava

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Bergamo for dinner and a half-day of exploration the following day. The weather was certainly cooler and rain dampened our spirits a bit. However, what a beautiful town. The town has two parts - citta bassa (lower town) and citta alta (upper town). The citta alta is the old town and you can reach the top by taking a Funicular which rattles up the rocky face. After exploring the town - which incorporates medieval, Renaissance and baroque architecture - we enjoyed a traditional dinner of mixed meats (rabbit, chicken, pork) and polenta. On Sunday we spent half a day once again exploring the old town, coffee and brioches, Piazza Vecchia, climbed the Torre del Campanone, and finally La Rocca (an old fortress with excellent views of the town). Topping off the day with a slice of Pizza we trundled back to catch the train home to Bologna.

All in all a fantastic quattro giorni.

Bergamo

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Posted by happellfamily12 01:36 Archived in Austria Tagged venice vienna bergamo bratislava. Comments (0)

Barefoot in Venice in the Winter

mmmmmm ... bit chilly ...

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With the Nonnas in tow we decided to head up to Venice for a night. Dan had managed to secure an apartment that would sleep six and was close to all the main activities.

As the train snaked its way across the bridge we could see the twinkling lights over the Adriatic. Disembarking we made our way along the dimly lit streets following the signs for the Museo di Storia Naturale - no, we weren't going to put the Nonna's in the exhibits - the museo was our landmark to help locate our apartment. Once we arrived we were pleasantly surprised ... the bedrooms were big (mostly) and smartly decorated and the windows looked down onto the street.

Nonna's Closet
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Our Palatial Room
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Without much ado we quickly smartened ourselves up, as much as one can when sharing a suitcase with six, and we headed out to dinner to a little ristorante by the canal (twisting and turning over bridges and down dark streets). The place was rated highly on trip advisor but the food overall was disappointing. Perhaps we have been spoilt by all the wonderful places we have eaten in.

Finding the Restaurant

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Returning to the apartment Dan and I decided we would explore Venice at night as it is not often we have two live-in babysitters. So with the young and the mature settled in their beds we started to wander the streets at night. It was an interesting experience as you would round a corner and find maybe a little piazza with a few bars ... generally however the streets were deserted and it felt quite eerie as the lights were also dim. I kept thinking "are we going to turn the next corner and find the tide sneaking in around our ankles?". The term used for this high tide is "Acqua Alta". These exceptional tides occur between autumn and spring and often cause partial flooding in Venice.

Eventually we settled in a bar by the canal (sitting outside) and enjoyed a few glasses of rough red that warmed us up and put our fear of the rising tide at ease.

Venice at Night

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Rising Tide
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A Rough Red
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Returning to our apartment was not an easy feat and we did take a few wrong turns before we found ourselves stepping over the flood gate and into the warm of our beds. Under the safe assumption that at least if the tide peaked at night we would be safe in our warm beds.

The next day we bounded out of our beds keen to start the day and consume our all inclusive breakfast from the main part of the hotel in the next block.

However when we looked out the window we no longer had street views but water views.

Water Views

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Smart Irish Guy
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Carrying Nat
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We decided we would have to brave it as it could be hours before the tide subsided. Gingerly we stepped barefoot over the flood gate into the freezing cold and murky water. We saw many Venetians smartly clad in new gumboots and thigh-high waders. Mum even commented to one guy "you can tell who the tourists are" and he responded in a strong Irish accent "Ai love that was me yesterday until I picked up this wee pair of wellies". Oh how we longed to mug a few locals or smart tourists for those wellies. We never made it to the hotel for the free breakfast as the water was too high but we did find a dry cafe for a coffee and pastry and we were ready to embrace the elements again. Back at the apartment Dan departed for his much loved game of soccer and the Nonnas and I managed to wade to the hotel to check out and enjoyed our breakfast (as brunch). The Museo di Storia Naturale fortunately was next door and we were able to spend a few hours there in the warmth as the tide subsided and the driving rain and wind howled outside.

A boat trip to Piazza St Marco was in order ... even though the temperature was nine degrees and it was raining. However at least the tide had subsided.
Boarding the ferry we huddled inside the cabin not seeing many of the beautiful buildings along the canal. Exiting from the ferry we saw the tail end of a half marathon - poor blighters looked absolutely freezing. Our tour of the Piazza was quick it was just too cold to hang around. Boarding the ferry we were happy to get onto the train and return home to Bologna. Venice had certainly been an adventure but next time thigh-high wellies are definitely in order.

Piazza St Marco

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Bit Cold for Coffee

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Mad Runners

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Flood Platforms

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Note: I have included a web to show some of the photos of Venice in flood. Lucky we didn't go at this time.

http://www.google.it/search?q=flooded+venice&hl=it&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=bV2pUKWvHMX14QS124H4Cw&ved=0CCIQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=508

Posted by happellfamily12 12:20 Archived in Italy Tagged venice Comments (0)

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