We had 5 nights in Venice and we stayed at a small hotel, on a canal, near the centre of Venice – this was the breakfast room. I need to check our journal for the name of the hotel (archived in our garage so will do another day as it’s 11 pm here :). The hotel was lovely – small room but the fitout, decor etc. continued into the rooms with a romantic, theatrical feel.
The following photos were taken as we strolled in and around this beautiful but very popular city! We tried to take photos early in the morning and late in the afternoon when it wasn’t as crowded. One big tip for visiting Venice is to try and explore the city when the cruise passengers return to their ships. We learnt our lesson the first day when we got stuck in a crowd on a small canal bridge – we just couldn’t walk anywhere for about 10 min or so – everyone stayed calm but it wasn’t pleasant. Lonely Planet has a great book called “Where to Go When” and they recommend visiting Venice in February because “it’s cold, entrancing…and crowd free”. However, there is a Carnival on each February so if you want to go then it’s wise to book accommodation well in advance (next year it’s 3 – 13 Feb 2018). We visited Venice in May – as can be seen from the photos, it was warm (actually quite hot at times – especially when stuck in a crowd).
Another way to avoid the crowds for a few hours:
One day when it was crowded, we hired an audio guide (from Tourist Info Centre) and we walked along the waterfront (well away from touristy areas in the centre) and found a large park where the locals gather – on the day we were there it was weekend sport similar to what happens in many parts of the world. However, the difference between weekend sport here and in Australia was the food afterwards! It was so interesting to see a few lovingly prepared picnics spread out on the grass after the sporting events.
This made us hungry so we returned to a lovely cafe we had found for morning coffee to have a light lunch – see photos. There was a pleasant breeze coming off the ocean (the sea looks a bit hazy in the photos or maybe our camera wasn’t as good as the one we have now) and on quite a hot day it was the perfect place to be. The audio we hired took us to interesting stops along the way – with the self guided walk and a long, leisurely lunch it took all up approximately 3 – 4 hours.
The cafe had a homemade Tiramisu that was delicious – that memory had me looking back through recipe books so I’ll type up our favourite Tiramisu recipe (recipe now towards the end of this post). We don’t make it very often as I’m always trying to cut back/lose weight after our trips away but it is a nice one to make when having visitors to share the calories!
Another wonderful day trip from Venice in and around MURANO…see below.
We used the self guided audio tour from the Tourist Information Centre to explore in and around Venice…took about 3 – 4 hours including a long, leisurely, light lunch here. This was back in 2005 so perhaps there are “Tour for Tips” tours now like in other large European cities; however, we recommend the self guided one if it’s still available. We liked being able to do this long walk at our own pace – stop to take in the views, take photos etc.
When in Venice don’t miss a day trip to MURANO – “a cluster of islands best known for their venerable glass-blowing industry” (Lonely Planet “From the Source”). There are a few ways to visit, some more expensive than others; because time was a little tight for us toward the end of our stay, we chose a pricey option – a private tour company who transported us to/from Murano on a gorgeous small boat similar to the one that can be seen in the photo below. Those private tours are big business in Venice so it’s worth checking reviews etc. if you’re thinking of going this way. The other more affordable option is to take the ferry service – see photos below. It’s an excellent ferry service and worth using just to take you around the less touristy areas – see photos of the washing hanging from the historic buildings. We love seeing those parts of living cultures too! Brush up on your basic Italian if you do it this way although we managed well enough with our limited grasp of Italian – most of the locals are very helpful and friendly (although they do get frustrated with some on huge tour groups they told us…as do we occasionally!) and in big cities like Venice, many have quite good English especially the young/mid age people.
This simple recipe for Tiramisu comes from Lonely Planets “Italy, From the Source”. The recipe originated from Treviso and was named Tiremisu (Treviso dialect for Tiramisu).
Serves 6 – 8
5 egg yolks; 5 tbsp sugar; 500 g mascarpone; 1 standard packet (approx. 200g) Savoiardi biscuits; 400 ml strong coffee/espresso; cocoa to sprinkle.
- Beat the eggs yolk with the sugar
- Add the mascarpone and gently fold/mix everything together.
- In a serving dish, alternate a layer of biscuits quickly soaked in coffee, with a layer of mascarpone cream. Continue, adding two layers of each.
- Let is stand for at least three hours in the refrigerator.
- Take the tiramisu from the refrigerator, sprinkle with cocoa powder and serve.
This dessert is served by Chef Federico Moro who has 3 versions of Tiramisu at Le Beccherie in Treviso, where many believe the dish was born.
Treviso isn’t far from Venice – only 30 min on the train. This recipe, plus the fact that we usually love smaller cities, has inspired us to return!
More about Treviso and our longer stay in Trieste – another fabulous small Italian city (if interested see my post from last year) so close to other fascinating parts of the world…see our Slovenia posts + Croatia will be a post for another day as today (Sunday) is very busy in a good way!…
Off to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Canberra to see a range of exhibitions including one about the struggle for freedom in South Africa (our next holiday destination); followed by a book launch at Paperchain Manuka (about collaborative writing) and possibly ending the day at the cinema across the road. I want to see Jasper Jones. Better get rolling!!
BACK AGAIN FOR MORE ON TRIESTE (a few photos and will finish tonight on this post). A few photos from Trieste to start…
On this day after another terrible attack in London, remembering all the victims of these senseless acts…
Trieste is a fabulous small city not too far from Venice by rail (will note distance tonight). We started with a walk up/down/around – the highlight of our walk this day was to the top of this historic fortress (will note the name from our journal tonight). A nice surprise was the outdoor cafe with views at the top – see left hand side of photo. The views away from the water is across rolling hills – see smaller photo of me enjoying an expresso and dark 🍫 while enjoying the views. More later + another recipe “Tagliolini with Venetian artichokes and scampi”.
Another recipe while we’re planning for tonight…one of our regular salads combined with some grilled meat, fish or I like a vegetarian option on the barbecue sometimes too. Often a quick one we put together after going to the cinema and/or we decide on it when gorgeous small fennel bulbs are available from our local market.
Rocket, Fennel and Parmesan salad with Pine Kernels
2 handfuls rocket leaves; 1 small fennel bulb; 5 tbsp olive oil; 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar; 100 g parmesan cheese; 50 g pine kernels; salt and pepper.
Toast the pine kernels in a dry frying pan until golden brown;
Top the salad with the Parmesan shavings and toasted pine kernels;
The above recipe comes from “Cook with Confidence Italian” – Parragon Books 2015. I bought it from our local post office. It’s a particularly good one to use with children and teens – the visuals and step by step format greatly assist identification of various foods; also because this format precisely sets out the procedure, it often helps to develop a better understanding of cooking techniques, sequence of tasks, etc. I have often looked for books like this to use with all our children – both at home and during my teaching career.
There is also a recipe for Tiramisu (P172) in this book. Other simple faves include:
Grilled Polenta with Fennel Seeds P82 – an excellent accompaniment to grilled Tuscan sausages or similar (I often have a healthier vegetarian substitute when Tony has sausages). His grandfather was a butcher so there’s no changing his ways although he will sometimes have a vegetarian hot dog for lunch😉
Ravioli with Crabmeat and Ricotta P88 – we’re making this (or our other fave Prawn Ravioli – see separate post for recipe) next weekend. I’ll post some photos of Tony making the fresh pasta – he was inspired to learn how to make it from both his mother (who also loved to cook) and when we’ve made pasta during cooking courses in Italy.
OUR LAST STOP ON THIS ITALIAN HOLIDAY WAS TRIESTE – see next post
OTHER SMALL TOWNS OF THIS REGION THAT WE WOULD LIKE TO VISIT IN THE FUTURE:
What we’ve heard about Bologna…
We frequently go to an Italian cafe/restaurant called Ricetta in Manuka village near where we live (Canberra) and there are a few Italian staff working there (on a working visa). They’re delightful people and one particular young woman comes from Bologna – she insists we must “come and visit” one day! So we are hoping to return – find an interesting small hotel to stay at for at least a few days. She tells us that Tortellini in Brodo (Tortellini in broth) is the traditional Italian soup that originated from Bologna. Lonely Planet’s “From the Source” confirms that plus gives the recipe if you’re interested. It’s quite long and complicated and seeing that Tony isn’t overly keen on soups like I am, we probably won’t make it at home; so I’ll continue to have the lovely soups from Ricetta instead.
If we do go to Bologna we’ll go to the medieval Quadrilatero as we hear there is a restaurant called Da Gianni (see P29 LP’s From The Source)…they make recipes that “were penned by chefs in the country’s first cookbooks”. Also see P43 for a “Pumpkin Tortelli” recipe “eaten under the 14th century frescos that form an elegant canopy over the dining room of Mantua’s Aquila Nivea restaurant. Located in the centre of this UNESCO city’s oldest neighbourhood, the restaurant takes its name from the area’s medieval symbol: a black eagle (Aquila nigra). Set in an old Renaissance palazzo, once home to the powerful Gonzaga family”.