A Weekend in Venice

I consider myself very lucky that I have been able to visit Venice on a number of occasions, a few times just for the day and a couple of times for the weekend! But I find that every time I go, I discover something new and find beauty and magic in the city. Whether it be visiting the Basilica, stumbling upon a second hand bookshop – stuffed to the brim with quirky and unusual books or going for a Venetian Rowing lesson, there is always some new adventure to be had or something to be experienced.

Last weekend was no exception! I met my friend on the Saturday at Casa Caburlotto, a Convent situated very close to the main railway station, where we would be staying. The convent is run by the Suore Figlie di San Giuseppe del Caburlotto and we had found it on the website Monastery Stays, which my father has seen written about in the Guardian and suggested we checked out.  Expecting all the properties to be completely booked up at such short notice, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Casa Caburlotto had availability!  Monastery Stays, may not be for everyone, but I found it perfect for our weekend in Venice. The rooms were very simple, but extremely clean, with excellent, friendly staff and the  breakfast was typical of Italian hotels -croissants, cereal, bread, cake, yoghurt, coffee and juices! There was a small chapel and a pretty inner courtyard.  It was only half an hour walk to Piazza San Marco, which was great as we didn’t have to take any water taxis or ferry’s the whole weekend! The only thing is there was a curfew of midnight, but for us that was fine, as we were exhausted from all the walking – after which, I slept so well! It was very peaceful at the Convent and had a lovely calm atmosphere!

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Casa Caburlotto, built in the 17th Century – the congregation was established in 1850 and founded by Monsignor Luigi Caburlotto.

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The building had really interesting heads on the exterior…all slightly weird and wonderful!

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The garden area was very tranquil and tended to by the Nuns. I wish I had taken more pictures inside the Convent, but you can check some more out on the Monastery Stays website.

Saturday we spent wandering around Venice, getting lost and discovering tiny streets and pretty bridges, as well as amazing macaroon and chocolate shops!  We ate extremely well over the weekend and found on both the Saturday and Sunday, lovely restaurants filled with Italians (which is always a good sign) away from the main tourist areas. On Sunday we went up the Campanile di San Marco for some amazing photo opportunities and visited the Ca’Rezzonico, a museum of 18th Century Venice, set in a beautiful palace with some of the most incredible chandeliers I have ever seen! I will be sharing photos from both of these later in the month, as well as my top tips for visiting the city!

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The houses in Venice have strange and intriguing door knockers! Keep an eye out for them…I have spotted all sorts, heads, lions…

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This boat yard was opposite a great place we found for a glass of prosecco and crostini, which are pieces of bread topped with delicious things, such as aubergine and smoked cheese, pesto with mozzerella and tomato or smocked mackerel! It was packed with Venetians and was super cheap, I’m talking €2.50 a glass of prosecco! Look out for Osteria Alsquero!

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Have you visited Venice? Did you discover any hidden gems?  What did you think about the city? I would love to hear!

Anna

 

Meet me in Venice…

How can you refuse when a friend asks you to meet them in Venice? You simply cannot and so I find myself heading there for the weekend, rather spontaneously! We decided I think on Sunday evening! My friend, whom I lived with whilst at University, is living in Dubai, but has popped over to Europe for the week and as our meet ups are now spread so far apart from one another, they are even more special! So I am super excited!

This will be my second trip to the city this year, as I went to meet another friend from University there in March, when we ended up going for a Venetian Rowing lesson which you can read about here and I attended a talk by Art Historian and presenter of the BBC’s Italy Unpacked Andrew Graham-Dixon. The talk you can also read about here.

I am not sure what we have planned for this weekend, but I am sure we will end up having an adventure or two! The first, shall be finding one another…I don’t think I have ever visited Venice, without getting a little lost!

I am looking forward to my train journey as I can read some more of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, which is the first book I am reading for my Read Around the World feature! More to come on that soon, but you can read my first post here and I am still looking for suggestions of other books, from each country around the world! So let me know if you have any!

For now, I must pack, as I am prone to leaving things to the last minute! Only thing is, I am at a loss as to what to take! This week has been a disaster weather wise, Wednesday was 13 degrees, stormy and rainy (I even wore wellies!), Thursday and Friday 23 degrees and sunny! It makes my head spin all this weather changing…but the forecast says it should be nice, so fingers crossed!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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A picture I took of San Marco from the water taxi back in March

Anna

L’altra Venezia

When one of your dearest friends messages you to ask whether you are free to meet them in Venice for the weekend, it really would be rude to say no! So on Friday morning, I popped myself on a train and less than three hours later, pulled up at Santa Lucia station.  My friend Grania was there for an event with the company she works for, so I was really lucky to be able to join in with some of the things they had planned, such as a presentation on Italian Art from a well known art historian (more on this in another post) and a beautiful dinner on the Island of Torcello! However on Saturday after the event had finished and before I had to catch my train back to Milan, we went on a little adventure!

Hello Venice!!! #venice #catchup #Italy #wheninveniceswiminthecanal #musingsinmilan @graniachesterton

The two of us had lived together whilst we were on our Erasmus year in Modena and had both previously been to Venice on more than one occasion, so when Grania’s friend asked her if we wanted to go with him to meet his friend and go on his boat, we jumped at the chance! It wasn’t until we were at dinner on the Friday night that he told us it was a rowing boat and to be honest, this did fill me with a little bit of dread! I had rowed once before with a friend at Flatford Mill in Essex and we spent nearly the entire hour getting tangled up in weeping willow trees and crashing into the sides of the river. Much to the disapproval of the cows grazing on the river bank!  I was imaging the four of us in a situation like this, seated with two oars each and me being utterly useless! However, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

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After a speedy twenty minute water taxi ride from our hotel to Sestiere Castello, we meet Luca’s friend Walter.  Walter is a Venetian tour guide and runs ‘L’altra Venezia’ – The other Venice – a company which offers visitors to Venice something a little different, like tailored tours of the North or South Lagoons or their “Murano Exclusive” tour, visiting the Murano glass factories. We however, had a Venetian Rowing Lesson and what a fabulous experience it was!

As we walked along to meet Walter at the boat, I realised my expectations were completely wrong! The boat was larger than I had imagined, and had only two oars, meaning two people row at a time whilst the other two sit, one in the middle and one at the front of the boat (maximum 4 people).  Have I mentioned you row standing up?! At this point I resigned myself to the fact I probably shouldn’t even try rowing as I am extremely prone to falling over even when on dry land!

After a few minutes working out how best to jump down into the boat, we set off out into the open water!  Luca first tried his hand at rowing, with Walter at the back of the boat instructing him on everything from posture and wrist movement to the position the oar must be in when it hits the water, but it was not to be his forte, so Grania stepped up and had a try.  Well, she was like a duck to water and within a few minutes was rowing like a pro! Walter was an excellent teacher and helped coach her to move her body with the oar rather than her arms and anchor herself with her right leg forward and left leg towards the back of the boat. At this point we were in the open water in front of the Island of San Michele, but we now were moving inwards to the tricky narrow canal streets of Venice!

As we worked our way through the quiet, tourist free streets, we asked Walter lots of questions about the buildings and palaces we passed and life in Venice.  He was extremely knowledgeable and it was really interesting listening to his stories and anecdotes!  Soon we emerged out into the open waters again, right by Piazza San Marco, where all the traditional gondolas are harboured.  But we didn’t hang around for long and took a new route back into the winding streets of the city. I was feeling super relaxed but as we made our way back, I decided to have a go at rowing too, so I took over from Grania. After an initial few minutes of adjustment and coaching from Walter, I soon got into the rhythm of it and found out it was really fun and not as difficult as I had imagined!  It is so true that time flies when you are having fun and before long we had to make our way back to the hotel.  I had just about enough time to grab a coffee and warm up a little before heading to the station to catch my train back to Milan.

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#Venice #Italy #venicerowboats #laltravenezia #travel #musingsinmilan

If you are planning a trip to Venice and are looking for something a little different to do, I can not recommend highly enough a tour with l’altra Venezia! It really was a unique experience and fabulous way to see the city! If a Venetian rowing lesson isn’t for you, they have plenty more options to check out on their website and next time I’m in Venice I will definitely be trying another one out! http://www.laltravenezia.it/

Anna