Saturday morning started with a pot of strong coffee alongside fresh bread and salami from the local supermarket, all before bundling up in as many layers as we could physically pull over our heads. It was cold!
We stepped out into the morning sunshine ready for a day of exploring. Unlike the evening before, the streets and canals were now alive with the hustle and bustle of Venetian life. Shopkeepers smoked outside of their doors whilst gondoliers expertly steered their boats underneath the beautiful bridges, calling and beckoning to tourists as they passed.
We wandered across Rialto Bridge in search of the morning market. Nestled in the market square just over the bridge, the market is a must see. Vibrant fruit stalls lined the canal side and we watched lifelong fishmongers prep the morning’s catch. Food markets are my favourite people watching spots, especially in other countries. I think they provide the best example of everyday life.
We stopped for morning espressos and connoli, then headed towards Piazza San Marco. I wish I could dazzle you with historical facts and cultural anecdotes, but I’m not ashamed to say that as a group, eating and drinking always comes top of our list. We weaved our way through the crowds who were busy gazing up at grand St Mark’s Basilica and made our way along the waterfront to a little bar where a couple of friends from Rome who were joining us for the rest of the weekend were waiting.
We settled down at an outside table, ordered rounds of drinks and watched the world go by. This stretch of water reminds me a little of London’s Southbank, with artists and street performers lining the wide walkway. Although somewhere that must be unbearably manic during the Summer months, it was the perfect spot to enjoy the January sunshine.
Our next stop was the Bridge of Sighs; a beautiful enclosed bridge set between the city’s prison buildings. It is said that the bridge was given it’s name as prisoners were led across the bridge to their cells and would sigh at their last glance of the stunning city, while another legend states that if two lovers pass beneath the bridge in a gondola their love will last forever. Two fairly different accounts of it’s heritage, the latter perhaps fabricated by someone who saw their relationship as a life sentence!
When we started to get a little hungry we headed off in search of lunch. This came in the form of pizza slices and San Pelligrino at a little bar we had passed that morning, followed by the most incredible ginger and caramel gelato from Gelatoteca SuSo. Who says you can’t enjoy icecream in January!
We continued exploring, found the famous Harry’s Bar and watched in amazement as the glittering waters changed colour in the early evening light. Words cannot describe just how beautiful this city is.
After quick showers, a change of clothes and a few drinks at our apartment, we headed off for dinner at Ristorante Riva Del Vin. The restaurant is really lovely; simple, classic and completely fuss free. The staff were more than welcoming and before we knew it we were chatting like old friends.
We started with the most amazing warm rosemary bread before moving on to plates piled high with buttery spaghetti vongole. The restaurant was packed and the atmosphere perfect; everything you could ask for from a Saturday night in Venice.
It’s at this point that things get a little blurry…
By midnight the waiters had joined us, we had worked our way through various bottles of wine and were trying to insist that we really didn’t need another shot of grappa.
Venice, I love you!
Riva del Vin, 30125, Venezia
Gelatoteca SuSo, Calle della Bissa, 5453, 30124 San Marco, Venezia