A Trip to Venice
Archived article (1998)
Beth Cordes Thompson, a Venice for Visitors reader, was kind enough to send notes on a 1998 trip to Venice with her book club. She gave us permission to reproduce her comments, and here they are. (We've edited them slightly, since they were lifted from two different e-mails).
The Knopf Guide: Venice was correct in praising this hotel for its service. The men who ran the front desk were extremely polite and friendly, and the breakfast was very good by Italian standards.
The guidebook's hotel chart gives the Albergo Guerrato bullet points for "quiet" and "view," but that depends on the room. If you want quiet, you won't have a view, because the view looks out over the Rialto Market, which becomes active very early in the morning. I recommend earplugs for that part of the hotel. However, I would frequent it again, avoiding tours if possible. (Rick Steves' tours book the hotel.)
Trattoria Anzolo Raffael
One night, we had dinner at Trattoria Anzolo Raffael, Dorsoduro 1722, in the Piazza Angelo Raffaele. The restaurant was recommended by Fred Plotkin in his book, Italy for the Gourmet Traveler (page 241).
We started off with pasta; mine was with clams. Most of us ordered frittura di scami e calamaretti, although from the pictures I'd assume the dish also had fish. It was plainly cooked, but excellent and light.
The restaurant is far from the crowds and frequented by locals. The owners want to keep it peaceful for their regulars. If you visit it on the basis of this recommendation, please don't come en masse. (Tours will not be appreciated.) Come prepared with as good an Italian as you can muster because no English will be spoken or understood. What's on the menu is not necessarily what's being served. The waiter or waitress will let you know what the kitchen has prepared for the day. Order a primo and a secondo at the very least. It will be good.
All' Antica Mola
All' Antica Mola, at Fondamenta degli Ormesini, was another restaurant we went to. This was reviewed in Sandra Gustafson's Cheap Eats in Italy.* [Editor's note: See our own Venice for Visitors review of All' Antica Mola.]
We ate outside, which was definitely preferable to the inside garden. It was a beautiful evening. The waiter was helpful and watchful. I ordered the pasta e fagioli and Venice's signature liver and onions. Both were very good. I split a good salad with a companion. The tiramisu was hailed as one of the best. Everyone in our party of five enjoyed their meal. A definite return!
In the Palazzo Ducale, I wish I could have talked our group out of renting the phones with taped descriptions of every room. After one hour, we were exhausted, and we still had more to go. The tapes have too much detail for even the most educated tourist. (Almost every painting is discussed.) The best description of the Palazzo Ducale is in Hugh Honour's Companion Guide to Venice, pages 45-59. Based on that information, I could have taken my group of five through the palace in 45 minutes, and they would have remembered the most defining parts of Venice's history.
I rarely buy souvenirs when I travel, because I must travel light. However, when in Venice, I go to "Rialto 79" for glass bead jewelry. (The shop is just off the Rialto Bridge, going toward the train station.) The attractive woman in the shop is the artist, and her work is several steps above touristy beads. She offers prices and items for every pocketbook, from one-of-a-kind glass stickpins to antique bead necklaces. The shop is pleasant and quiet, and English is spoken.
Our book club read Venetian Life, by W.D. Howells, which was written in the 1860s. It was an excellent preparation for the trip. [Editor's note: You can read excerpts from Venetian Life in our three-part series.]
Venice vs. Florence
From Venice, we went to Florence and had a rude shock. After going from a place with no vehicles to a place where all sorts are jamming the streets, we almost got run over. In the future, I'll try to see Venice at the end of a tour, rather than at the beginning!
* We used Cheap Eats in Italy when we were in Florence, and every place was good. We also found our hotel through Sandra Gustafson's Cheap Sleeps book.
Text excerpts: Copyright � Beth Cordes Thompson. All rights reserved.