ACC Travels: Venice, Italy

Since my darling husband just returned from Italy this weekend it had me reminiscing about the last time he went there to give a speech and was smart enough to bring his wife along!  His speaking engagement was in Milan but since Patrick had never been to Venice before and I am still haunted by my visit from years ago, I decided that is where we should meet up.  Could there be anything more romantic than meeting your love on the Grand Canal???  The fall is a great time to visit Venice as it is MUCH less crowded than in the summer.  You have to be careful for the “Acqua Alta,” ie when the water levels get so high that the canals flood the city (ick) but if you look online there are great resources for estimating when that will happen.  We went mid November and it was perfect.

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Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with incredible art, architecture and natural beauty, but unlike most of the rest of Italy, it is not known for its food.  They have seafood in abundance but many of the restaurants are super touristy and overpriced.  Because things essentially need to be “imported” the quality of some produce isn’t as good as say Florence.  But do not despair!  Do enough research and you can find great food.  I won’t lie – there were a bunch of duds on this trip.  Even the best laid plans can be ruined by closed restaurants, exorbitant prices or a maze of canals.  However, there were several gems.  Here are our favorite stops – I also recommend checking out Chowhound boards before you do any international travel and search the city you are visiting.  I found a lot of these places on there – its basically crowd sourcing from foodies at its best.  Ciao!

Vineria all’Amarone

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How can you not like a place named after some of the best wine made in Italy?  Vineria all’ Amarone is a sweet spot that specializes in wine (duh) and food that goes well with it.  Unlike most places it takes reservations online so perfect for a day when you know you are not going to want to mess around figuring out where to eat.  I highly recommend anything that comes out of their oven, from roasted meats to the lasagna.  We of course ordered a bottle of Amarone, which was so much more reasonable than anywhere you would get it in the States.  Best of all the whole restaurant is decorated with empty bottles from customers who tag it with memories of their meals there.  They have tags in every language and some of the sweetest stories!  Definitely a must try.

Venissa

I highly recommend getting out to some of the islands of Venice during your stay there.  Each has its own character and unique specialty like the glass blowing on Murano.

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Much less known is the tiny island of Mazzorbo, that has Venice’s only vineyard on it, Venissa.  Unfortunately when we were there it was closed for a special event but just walking grounds was pretty incredible.  Venissa is not just a vineyard but also a restaurant and hotel which win rave reviews.

Ristorante Ai Cesendeli

Just a short walk over a tiny bridge from Mazzorbo you get Burano, the island known for its lace makers.  The colors of the homes on the island are a huge draw but as soon as we got there we realized we were starving.  The only restaurant that I could find recommended was of course closed with no reason given but such is the joy of travelling in Europe.

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Luckily we stumbled across this amazing family run spot that served great pizzas and Aperol spritzes for lunch.  I ordered an eggplant calzone type thing and it came with about $15 worth of prosciutto di parma on top!  Absolutely delicious.

CoVino

This place is tucked away – like really tucked away.  The more time you find yourself in Venice the more you will find that you are lost.  That is a good thing!  Just keep walking and eventually you will find it.  I had read about this place a ton and was totally going to give up but Patrick knew I really wanted to go and when we finally found CoVino it was like an oasis (especially since it was pouring out!).  Once inside you feel like you are in someone’s kitchen, and you basically are in the postage stamp of a restaurant.

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Don’t let that scare you off as they churn out awesome food.  It is a 3 course menu and very inexpensive so well worth the hunt.

Vinaria

Almost 100% of the places that line the Grand Canal are tourist traps and are not worth looking at.  Basically if they offer the menu in more than 2 languages with pictures you should keep moving.

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However, the gracious patio overlooking the canal at Vinaria is a lovely place to sit after a long day of exploring and grabbing a glass (or three!) of wine.  Cannot speak to the food but the view cannot be beat.

Al Timon

Patrick doesn’t eat seafood which on an island can be pretty challenging.  I kept reading about Al Timon before we left as one of the few places that does meat right.  We tracked it down in the old Jewish quarter and man am I glad we did.

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As with a lot of places in Venice it is a little confusing once you get in as the menu is all in Italian and everyone seems to know what they are doing.  However, the waiters are really lovely and helped us order this amazing beef tenderloin (not the horse that we were accidentally going to order!!!).  They serve it up family style on a big wooden board with rosemary roasted potatoes, white beans, arugula and loads of other accompaniments.  Some crusty bread and red wine and we were in heaven.

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