Last week, we were wrapping up a quick shopping trip for art and one-of-a-kinds in Italy, when we needed to get to back to France for the weekend. The least expensive flight actually left from Venice (I swear it did, Meg!), so we hopped on a train and decided to spend the night there. Having done no advance planning, we were a little taken aback by the number of people dressed in flamboyant medieval costumes … until we realized that we had actually timed our visit with Venice’s very celebrated Carnival!
Despite the lure of festivities, I’m not one for huge crowds so we chose to bypass most of the city’s tourist attractions and taking a cue from a very timely New York Times article about Venice’s “Cicchetti,” focused our 12 hours on food. (Read https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/travel/venice-cicchetti-small-plates.html) Cicchetti are the Italian equivalent of the Spanish Tapa, usually consisting of a marriage of fresh local flavors combined into delectable small bites.
The NY Times, noting that the food in Venice is often expensive and not terribly exciting, had very conveniently published the address of six Cicchetti “bars” around the city, which they insisted served the best and freshest food at the most affordable price. That was enough for us! We made it our mission to hunt down every one.
Of course all roads and back alleys in Venice eventually lead to St. Mark’s so, well fed and happily wined, we wound our way to the bustling craziness of this magnificent Square. There we captured a different flavor of the city – the Baroque exuberance of people dressed in flamboyant costumes and all too happy to pose for the camera. The colors were sensational against the fading backdrop of the soft evening light.
We were too late to catch the Canaletto exhibit at the Doge's Palace, which I regret deeply, as I have always loved his work. But we did squeeze in a quick visit to St. Mark's Basilica, where I was entirely focused on the floor!
I hadn’t been to Venice in years, and I forgot about its extraordinary spell. The beauty of the architecture and the soft colors of the aged stucco bathed in light and reflected in the water make a magical and unique tableau. To view Venice, as we did, on a secret mission that took us up and down miniscule alleys in labyrinth-like circles, exposing us to the heart of the city, away from the tourist beaten path, was an adventure in itself. And knowing that there was a cicchetti award at the end of every tunnel (with a small splash of white wine) was the greatest way to drink it all in! Viva Venezia.