Sunday, March 2, 2014


   Our trip to Venice was so fabulous. It was such a thrill to be in this ancient city with my kids who seem to be getting the concept of how old some of these places are. The rich history is perfectly evident in the architecture, art and culture.
   We stayed on the island of Lido which is across the lagoon from Venice proper. Even though the ferries to and fro Venice are terribly expensive, it was a really nice reprieve to be on this quiet island with small town feel and plenty of green space. Plus, this is where my friends live and own a fun restaurant/bar. The island is about 20 miles long but only 1/2 mile wide, so our first stop, was of course, the beach. With plenty of sand and lots of shells, we spent time along the Adriatic Sea for relaxation and picnics within walking distance of our apartment.
   Carnevale was in full swing. As we went into Venice earlier in the days, the crowds were manageable and we did not run into any unpleasant riffraff. The costumes were incredible. I am told people work on them all year and many of those dressed up come from elsewhere, many from France. As they do not speak once dressed up, it is hard to know much of anything about who was under the costumes.
   As we have found all over Europe during our travels, eating out is tough. There are so many bad restaurants and they are terribly expensive. For the most part, we had sandwiches from bars, a popular Italian lunch. My friends took me to an amazing restaurant called Al Covo on their day off while their daughter babysat my kids and it was the best meal I have had during our European vacation. A tiny restaurant, it serves seafood and traditional dishes made with locally produced food. The meal started with Prosecco followed by numerous small courses like a raw seafood plate, a cooked seafood plate, a pasta with spiny crab, baccala which is a salt cod dish, followed by desserts, coffee and a plate of the traditional Carnevale treats, Chiacchiere- a thin, crispy pastry with powdered sugar, and Sfingi- small fried dough similar to a beignet. My kids were very happy to have someone else in charge for a few hours and as it was one of my only kid free times in the past 7 months, it was a delight to spend that time with good friends and wonderful food.
   Another fun place we found to eat was a pasta to-go joint called Alfredo's. It was tiny, serving homemade pasta in varying shapes with a choice of about 8 sauces and you mix and match to your liking. It was served in paper, Chinese boxes with a plastic fork. There was a small counter for a few people to eat at, otherwise you sit on a bridge and eat your pasta!
   We spent a couple of evenings at my friends' restaurant, Giardinetto Grill, right across from the ferry stop on Lido, where they serve very tasty meat dishes as well as great pizza. It is a charming, neighborhood-y kind of place with a nice bar and people mingling from morning to night. My kids are in love with their hot chocolate which is as thick and rich as pudding.
   I am trying to figure out how to return to Italy before June 1st. Maybe Florence is calling us. But I also want to go back to Spain. Oldest Child wants to go back to London. We will not fit it all in.

Leaping on Lido
View of Venice from Lido, it looks far, but it isn't.
I stocked up on cheese
The Grand Canal from the top of Rialto Bridge
San Marco Square
Murano Glass

Carnevale treats 
A challenger
Hot Chocolate at Giardinetto Grill
Just one of the costumes, more will follow... 

Yes, there is plenty of English in Venice 
The morning commute


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