Hi.

My name is Catherine Courtney and I am a Nashville Native with a penchant for culinary creativity and epic travel adventures.  I'll admit... I also have a slight obsession with handbags. 

Going, Going, Gondola- A Guide to Venice

Going, Going, Gondola- A Guide to Venice

A planner. That's how many of my friends would characterize me. However, this recent trip to Italy was quite the contrary. I booked my trip to Puglia over a year in advance based on a few instastories and photos that I saw following EPM. To be honest, I had never heard of Puglia but was intrigued by the stunning white landscape. 

Travel 101: Anytime your flight is more than a few hours, try to incorporate a neighboring city or region. Why take a myopic approach to travel when there is so much of the world to see! 

Heeding my own travel 101 advice, I started studying the map. Wanting to explore somewhere new while not over complicating my current travel plans narrowed down my list quickly. While the thought of popping over to Spain and eating my way through San Sebastian was tempting, I decided to explore Italy a little more in detail. Lake Como. Milan. Sicily. Venice. The list was quite lengthy but when I realized I could pop over to the Prosecco region and do a quick tour, I was immediately sold on Venice.  Let the planning begin! 


Venice Travel Tips 


If it's your first time in Venice, here are a few things that you may find helpful. If you have any other tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comments below for the other readers.

Transportation from Marco Polo (VCE):

After you have made your way through customs, it will be necessary to coordinate transportation, unless you have Michael Phelps-like swimming skills. There are two options: private water taxi or Alilaguna, the public water bus. If you are pressed for time or just looking for the George and Amal Clooney experience, I recommend taking the private water taxi. Although it is quite costly, a one-way trip costs approximately 120€, it's your best option. 

If you are a bit more flexible with your plans, I would recommend purchasing a round trip ticket on the Alilguna which costs approximately 26€. While it does take a bit longer, it's worth the savings. 

Gondola Rides:

I may get some eye rolls, but taking a gondola ride was at the top of my to-do list in Venice. Not only is it a gorgeous way to explore the canal, but for those of you traveling with your significant other, it can be undoubtedly one of the most romantic things to do in the city. Friends recommended that I book one of these rides in advance, but seeing as I didn't want to be locked into a schedule, I decided to pass. If you are traveling on a budget, you may prefer to share a gondola with others as the tariff can be quite costly. For a thirty-five minute ride, we were charged 80€, which we paid once our trip was complete. Our gondolier didn't serenade us and for that matter wasn't terribly chatty (trust me, we were totally fine with that). He simply shared bits of history here and there and answered any questions we had about the sights. Venice is such a gorgeous city that I got lost admiring all of the architecture and sites. Before I knew it, we were pulling back into the dock. My advice: skip the museums and spend the $$ on the ride. Its worth every penny! 

Seriously, how can you say no? 

Dining:

You couldn't possibly think that I would write this post and not include dining tips, right? Dining options in Venice are plentiful, but if you are anything like me, I want the table with the best view. As I continued to patio hop my way through the city, I continued to notice a small charge, ranging from 4€-10€, on the check. Venetian restaurants often charge a small "cover" charge for sitting and enjoying a meal.  "Il coperto" as known by the Italians, comes from a long history of serving meals to hungry travelers. At certain restaurants, patrons will be given the option to sit or stand and the food is priced accordingly. Seeing as I got plenty of steps in while wandering about the city, I opted for a seated meal. 

One of my favorite places with a great view was the Gritti Terrace, which has canal-side terrace dining. I would recommend making reservations in order to secure a table outside, weather permitting. Clearly, I was living my best life and enjoying every bite of this meal. Interested in making reservations? Click here

The Gritti Terrace: In love with the vibrant colors used at this restaurant

The Gritti Terrace: Not sure about you guys, but this beats my office view any day

The Gritti Terrace: Is this just dreamy?

Admittedly, I ate my weight in pasta and consumed some of the most magnificent wine in the region. After all, calories don't count on vacation, especially when you are walking miles and miles each day. I found it curious that many of the smaller restaurants required a minimum of two people order many of the pasta dishes. Unfortunately, it seemed that these minimums were imposed on every entree I had my heart set on. #Fail.  On occasion, they will make a concession but they don't make it a habit. 

By now, you are familiar with my never-ending quest for collecting Michelin stars and this trip was no different. While I am going to put together a separate post on the different restaurants, I have to admit this adventure was a Michelin star gone wrong. I made reservations at Da Fiore, a one Michelin star restaurant located in the heart of Venice, and was terribly disappointed. From the variety of food to the snarkiness of the servers, I left unfulfilled. 

Can't-miss sights

Venice is filled with architecture, art, and amazing cuisine. Even though my time was brief, there are a couple of sights I would recommend:

Harry's Bar:

As I continued to research things to do in Venice, Harry's Bar continued to pop up repeatedly. Even if you are an imbibing enthusiast, I am sure you are thinking" what's so special about that bar?" Harry's Bar was the birthplace of the Bellini, that delicious peachy/bubbly drink we often sip on during brunch. Digging around a little more I learned that the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs declared Harry's a national landmark. My curiosity was piqued.

Even though I plugged the destination into google maps, I think we must have walked past the entrance several times as it is quite unassuming. As we entered, I noticed the small tables dispersed throughout the restaurant. In true Blonde Voyage style, I decided that we should sit at the bar( I mean is there a better place to sit? I think not.) We ordered the Bellini and had a few snacks as it was apertivo time.

Note: This is a Cipriani establishment and cocktails will be a bit pricey. The Bellini featured below cost 21€. (Pick your jaw up off the ground) We had the good fortune of sitting at the bar and chatting with several of the bartenders and they were gracious enough to give us a refill, but that is not the standard. If I were to do it again, I would pop in for one drink and then find a lovely streetside cafe and have a beverage. 

The lovely unassuming doors of Harry's

Seriously, this drink isn't much larger than a shot glass. 

Piazza San Marco

Although we didn't spend much time here, Piazza San Marco is not to be missed. I recommend wandering around and soaking up the gorgeous architecture, popping into Caffé Florian for a quick espresso and then moving on. The piazza is filled with people and can become quite cumbersome and overwhelming when it gets crowded. 

Stopping for a quick shot in front of St. Mark's Basilica

Support by Lorenzo Quinn

Last but not least, Support by Lorenzo Quinn. Created as a visual statement against global warming, Support has become one of the biggest attractions in Venice. While this will only be around until November 26, 2017, I would recommend making your way there if you have the chance. We were fortunate enough to see the exhibit as we were on the Alilaguna and it was simply breathtaking. Seeing as Venice is on a time clock, experts state that it could sink in 2100, Quinn makes a poignant statement with this work. 

Support by Lorenzo Quinn

There you have it friends. Blonde Voyage Nashville's "cliff's note" version to Venice. If you have any tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comments below.

Until next time!

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