Visions of Venice

By Beth Habian
This article appears on page 36 of the April 2013 issue.
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Venice’s Grand Canal.

by Beth Habian; Features Editor

Venice’s famous sights — the Basilica di San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, the Grand Canal — draw millions of visitors every year, but an overnight stay in October ’12 afforded a glimpse of the magic that hides around every corner and down every alleyway.

Its maze of narrow streets seems almost designed to get you lost, and, I have to admit, as soon as I got a couple of blocks from my hotel, I was completely turned around. (Luckily, I was traveling with Marie Rizzielo of Treasures of Italy, who knows the city like the back of her hand.) No matter! I was so busy looking at the beautifully designed and sometimes surprising shop windows and the elegantly decaying buildings that I was happy to wander for hours.

The lush courtyard at Hotel Flora.

Venturing out at night, after the hordes of day-tourists had disappeared, was a special pleasure. Sparkling Venetian-glass chandeliers shone in palazzo windows, lighting up intricately painted ceilings and opulent interiors. Magnifico!

Getting there

Marie and I left the van at the airport parking lot and took the Alilaguna ferry. The orange line runs from the airport to San Marco. It is slower than a water taxi, but, at €27 ($35.50) per person, round trip, it is much cheaper.

Where to stay

While Venice has a plethora of accommodations, from the incredibly expensive to the more budget friendly, I felt fortunate to be staying at Hotel Flora (San Marco 2283/A; phone +39 0415205844). This family-run hotel is located just a few minutes’ walk from the Piazza San Marco and the vaporetto stop there.

What I found most wonderful about this gem of a hotel was its outdoor garden/breakfast area. It was hard to believe, while enjoying a morning cappuccino in a tranquil courtyard surrounded by greenery, that we were in the middle of the noisy city!

My single room was small but lovely, and the charming staff was eager to help. Room prices vary greatly with the season (€79-€188, or $104-$248, single or €97-€300 double).

A musician entertains passersby.

If you’re looking for the same friendly service and similar room rates but want to experience a bit of Venice’s art scene, the 9-room Novecento, located nearby and run by the same family, often hosts art exhibits and other special events for its guests. They also maintain a website (www.insidevenice.it) which provides inside information on how to get around the city and lists upcoming events for visitors to Venice.

Where to eat

Before retiring for the evening, Marie treated me to dinner at Ristorante Fiaschetteria Toscana (phone 0039 041 52 85 281), located in the Cannaregio district. (Dishes range in cost from €13 to €37.)

What looked like a rather unassuming restaurant from the outside left me with my fondest food memory of the trip.

How a “simple” starter of stuffed zucchini blossoms could leave such an impression on me — especially considering that I indulged in the food of Italy’s food capital, Emilia Romagna, on this same trip — I can’t explain. But its light, crispy exterior and creamy, delicately seasoned filling came together to create the perfect bite.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.
Venice’s Grand Canal.

by Beth Habian; Features Editor

Venice’s famous sights — the Basilica di San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, the Grand Canal — draw millions of visitors every year, but an overnight stay in October ’12 afforded a glimpse of the magic that hides around every corner and down every alleyway.

Its maze of narrow streets seems almost designed to get you lost, and, I have to admit, as soon as I got a couple of blocks from my hotel, I was completely turned around. (Luckily, I was traveling with Marie Rizzielo of Treasures of Italy, who knows the city like the back of her hand.) No matter! I was so busy looking at the beautifully designed and sometimes surprising shop windows and the elegantly decaying buildings that I was happy to wander for hours.

The lush courtyard at Hotel Flora.

Venturing out at night, after the hordes of day-tourists had disappeared, was a special pleasure. Sparkling Venetian-glass chandeliers shone in palazzo windows, lighting up intricately painted ceilings and opulent interiors. Magnifico!

Getting there

Marie and I left the van at the airport parking lot and took the Alilaguna ferry. The orange line runs from the airport to San Marco. It is slower than a water taxi, but, at €27 ($35.50) per person, round trip, it is much cheaper.

Where to stay

While Venice has a plethora of accommodations, from the incredibly expensive to the more budget friendly, I felt fortunate to be staying at Hotel Flora (San Marco 2283/A; phone +39 0415205844). This family-run hotel is located just a few minutes’ walk from the Piazza San Marco and the vaporetto stop there.

What I found most wonderful about this gem of a hotel was its outdoor garden/breakfast area. It was hard to believe, while enjoying a morning cappuccino in a tranquil courtyard surrounded by greenery, that we were in the middle of the noisy city!

My single room was small but lovely, and the charming staff was eager to help. Room prices vary greatly with the season (€79-€188, or $104-$248, single or €97-€300 double).

A musician entertains passersby.

If you’re looking for the same friendly service and similar room rates but want to experience a bit of Venice’s art scene, the 9-room Novecento, located nearby and run by the same family, often hosts art exhibits and other special events for its guests. They also maintain a website (www.insidevenice.it) which provides inside information on how to get around the city and lists upcoming events for visitors to Venice.

Where to eat

Before retiring for the evening, Marie treated me to dinner at Ristorante Fiaschetteria Toscana (phone 0039 041 52 85 281), located in the Cannaregio district. (Dishes range in cost from €13 to €37.)

What looked like a rather unassuming restaurant from the outside left me with my fondest food memory of the trip.

How a “simple” starter of stuffed zucchini blossoms could leave such an impression on me — especially considering that I indulged in the food of Italy’s food capital, Emilia Romagna, on this same trip — I can’t explain. But its light, crispy exterior and creamy, delicately seasoned filling came together to create the perfect bite.