Despite the constant talk of rain, buying of the gumboots for aqua alta and initial fears that our weekend in Venice was going to be a wash out, I am extremely happy to say it only rained in the evenings and the days were left open to beautiful blue skies (ok, maybe a bit of fog too) and sunshine! Again we used Airbnb and again we were really impressed with our accommodation, the fact that we had a whole apartment instead of a hotel room with two boys who love to throw themselves around…I’m telling you Airbnb is the way to go. We had a garden apartment (not a common thing in Venice) and I believe the family who owns the building also owns Fiat, so a pretty fabulous location without a massive price tag. Our train pulled in around lunchtime so we dropped off our bags and started looking for a place to eat.
Nic has a colleague at I Tatti who was a student in Venice a few years ago and she kindly gave us a list of places to try; this, just for the record is an excellent idea, always trust a uni student who loves food! We had lunch at Ostaria Al 4 Feri in the Dorsoduro district. It is a great place to eat really fresh seafood at a very reasonable price, I will also note that you might have to share a table as it isn’t a large space. Alex and I shared the scampi and carcocifi spaghetti which I absolutely loved, however, the flavour was very rich so Alex wasn’t as keen. Nic stuck with the classic spaghetti al vongole which was so, so good (Alex helped him polish it off), while Max ate a large plate of grilled calamari in a matter of minutes. It was an excellent start to our mini holiday and with our tummies full we started to wander around the canals of Venice.
Everywhere you looked there was something you wanted to take a picture of, however, I seemed to get photo bombed…a lot!
As a bit of good luck for us, our best friends from Florence had decided to also take a weekend break in Venice at the last minute. So with their new name of ‘stalker family‘ firmly attached, we were pretty excited to hang out with them that evening and get plenty of tongue-in-cheek comments flying. Actually we have never traveled with friends before so it was something new for us and I have to say I want to do it again. Not only do you get to hang out and relax with people you get on really well with but the kids also kept themselves busy with games of tag in empty fish markets while parents look on sipping Spritz at a fab bar across the way…what’s there not to love about that?
After a couple of yummy spritz and chili olives we then went to dine at a place called Cantina Do Spade, which I have to say was our favourite of all the places we dined at. The food was really, really tasty and fresh; I indulged in a plate of fritta mista and it was huge!!! For 16 euro I fed myself and then Max knocked quite a bit of calamari off, followed by Isabel who tried her first piece of calimari (brava bella) and the sardines were so fresh…you certainly didn’t leave hungry.
Day two was kind of planned, we had booked in to see the Secret Itinerary of the Palazzo Ducale where you get to go inside the old gaol cells on a guided tour, learning what it was like for prisoners when life wasn’t so comfortable. Tickets are 20 euro adults/14 euro for kids and I think well and truly worth the tour (especially if you get our guide, she was a bit fabulous on so many levels), after the tour you also get to wander around the Palazzo at your leisure, alas time was ticking on for us and our tummies were rumbling so we literally leaped across the Bridge of Sighs (sighed of course!) and then hightailed ourselves over to a great-looking sandwich place I had seen on our travels. It was such a beautiful day we decided to take a break on a canal and soak up the atmosphere…this is one of my favourite moments of the weekend, with all the gang.
No one fell in (thank god) and we were all in a good mood so Ross and E decided it might be a good idea to take the kids on a gondola ride, this is where the boys are really lucky because they offered to take our boys them with them! Wow! Of course the boys were ecstatic and it also meant they could hang out with the girls a little more, so it was decided Nic and I would go and meet my parents who just so happened to be coming into town that afternoon while they all hopped on a gondola and paddled off into the canals of Venice. A memory the kids will cherish for many years to come I am sure.
Nic and I may have had a cheeky Spritz with Ross and E before they left (I mean that was the least we could do was buy them a apertivo before they go off on a gondola with four kids!) and we may have had another one…or was that after we met mum and dad? Not sure, however, I do have wonderful memories of lots of laughter, beautiful food and wonderful unexpected company for our weekend in Venice. We all had dinner that night, at first trying our luck in a very tiny restaurant in a part of town we didn’t really know, only to find out there was no chance in hell it would fit all ten of us, so with a bit of navigating from Nic and Ross and a few words from E and I we finally found a lovely restaurant that served nice food (though pricier than it needed to be). It was great to see mum and dad again and for them to meet our new friends in the beautiful city of Venice. I might save the rest for another blog as I can’t race through the Penny Guggenheim collection as there was far too much going on there to briefly mention.
Here I leave you with my memories of a wonderful family trip to a place that will never grow old to me and I hope the boys will one day come back with their friends and families to continue on the memory of Venice.