Venice is one of the most romantic and unique cities in the world, built on water with countless bridges connecting the many little islands. The May Bank Holiday weekend seemed just a perfect way to escape London for a romantic weekend in Venice with my husband.
Venice not only offers the most romantic setting but art and culture in abundance with its various museums and galleries. Venice had its cultural height during the Renaissance which is reflected in its rich architecture. It was like stepping back in time when we visited the Piazza San Marco with the Palazzo Ducale, Museo Correr and Basilica di San Marco.
In order to escape the tourist crowds we wandered through the narrow, winding alleyways with their small boutiques and little cafes’, discovering the myriad of squares with their cathedrals and churches, strolling along the waterways, watching the gondoliers sing whilst maneuvering their gondolas through the narrow canals. After hours of walking and exploring we decided to indulge in some gelato at Gelateria SuSo which offer locally made fresh gelato (they even offer gluten free options and all ice cream is made without artificial colouring).
Bridge of Sighs
Venice has been the setting for many movies including Casanova, Indiana Jones, James Bond as well as The Tourist which starred Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and ‘ Hotel Danieli’ which is not far from the Bridge of Sighs.
Hotel Danieli waterway entrance Staircase at Hotel Danieli
Hotel Danieli looked like the movie set, opulently decorated with heavy chandeliers, pink marble columns and antique carpets. The terrace restaurant on the fourth floor is open to visitors as well as their hotel guests.
Santa Maria of Salute
We decided to have breakfast at Hotel Danieli to appreciate the views it offers across the Grand Canal and in particular the elegant church of Santa Maria of Salute.
Inside Santa Maria of Salute
L’Osteria di S. Marina
L’ Osteria di Santa Marina was only a 5 minute walk away from our apartment and their spring tasting menu was absolutely delicious, starting with tuna tartar with eggs and black truffles followed by steamed and grilled octopus with creamed potatoes and extra virgin olive oil (picture below) followed by home-made ravioli with sea bass filling, clams and mussels stew followed by whipped barley, cuttlefish ink pumpkin sauce and toasted scampi followed by king prawns with crunchy bacon followed by veal cheek braised with smoked potatoes cream and finished with an almond crunchy nougat, almond biscuits and eggnog pie. This menu was beautifully put together – each dish was just perfection!
The other restaurant that we fell in love with was Il Ridotto. We stumbled upon it during one of our walks and I still can’t believe that we were lucky enough to make a reservation only a day in advance. It is a very popular place that is not touristy even though that it is in close proximity to the main sights.
Entrance Il Ridotto
We went for the fish and meat menu which was plain delicious, full of flavour and freshness – you could notice the careful preparation that went in to create the menu. The other guests that we shared the dining room with were so impressed with the food that they insisted for chef Gianni Bonaccorsi to come out of the kitchen to congratulate him for the perfectly prepared food. The pride and passion for his food was written all over his face. Chef Gianni Bonaccorsi and the restaurant is featured in this great little video:
Gianni Bonaccorsi mentioned that he get’s a lot of inspiration when he purchases his food from Rialto Market – how easy to believe! When we visited the market we were greeted with the gorgeous smell of ripe fruits such as peaches and strawberries and an unbelievable variety of carefully displayed produce.
Ristorante Da Alvise
Ristorante Algiubagio was the first restaurant we visited right after our arrival. Thanks to the fact that it was past lunch time and therefore rather empty, we got the corner table with the best view over the lagoon. During our meal a bouquet of flowers that belonged to a woman sitting on one of the other tables came flying my way at one point (I have that natural draw for things – usually footballs and other flying objects). Anyway, just some little drops of water caught me but before that woman (the owners’ sister as I was told later) left, she gave me a rose from her bouquet to say sorry. That was such a lovely gesture of her which still makes me smile thinking of it. The rose ended up on our dining table at the apartment.
We decided to rent an apartment as we wanted to get the feeling of Venetian life rather than staying in yet another hotel. It is also a great alternative for families that travel on a budget as you can self-cater or for people like me who really value their breakfast. Venetians have the habit to just grab an espresso and a little pastry which is just not enough for me so I decided to make use of our kitchen – at least in the mornings, I bought fresh fruit at Rialto market, made porridge, eggs and tea to have the perfect start to the day!
We used friendlyrentals.com to book our apartment, Corsaro VE. We have not used this service before and were slightly nervous whether everything would work out but it did. Upon arrival we had to contact someone with the lovely italian name Grimano who gave us the access code to the apartment over the phone and we were in. The apartment was nicely appointed with two bed and bathrooms plus an open living/dining area.
AMAN Canal Grande Venice
If you have money to spare and want to make your stay dazzling, book yourself in to the Aman Canal Grande Venice– we had to have a look at their hotel having stayed at the Amangiri in Utah. Their professional pictures on the website do not do that place justice. It is stunning to say the least, nicely located overlooking the canal with the Rialto Bridge close by.
AMAN Canal Grande Venice
AMAN Canal Grande Venice
The highlight of our romantic trip was a ride in one of Venice’s famous gondolas, a must do when you come to Venice. The architecture looks even more impressive from that perspective. Our gondoliere maneuvered us away from the tourist crowds along hidden and quiet waterways.
Before we headed back to London we reminisced over a glass of Belini, a drink that has its origins in Venice, invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar and decided that this won’t be the last time we visited Venice …