June 01, 2011

The Venetian Lagoon

Venezia, May 2010 - We were travelling on Trafalgar's Contrasts of Europe train tour through England, France and Italy. It was our second day in Venice and I was becoming a little disappointed with my vacation to the "sunny Mediterranean". So far we had received more than our fair share of rain. And today looked no better.

San Giacometto Church, Venice

Our morning started with the included walking tour through the San Polo district of Venice, leading us to the fish market and Rialto Bridge.This area is home to kiosks selling souvenirs, and shops filled with Carnival masks, shimmering Murano glass and a rainbow of silk scarves.

Carnival Mask

Gondolier Apparel

The ladies in our tour group were on Johnny Depp watch, as word had spread that he was in Venice filming The Tourist with Angelina Jolie. Unfortunately, there were no sightings.

Rialto Bridge, Venice

We stopped for a cappuccino at a restaurant on the Grand Canal just below the Rialto Bridge. Then we set off to the rendezvous point for the optional lagoon cruise and lunch in Burano (65 euros).

Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge

We followed a maze of alleyways to Piazza San Marco. There are no street signs in Venice, only arrows pointing you in the direction of the city's major landmarks.

The rain had returned, and it streamed down the foggy windows of our water taxi as we made our way through the Venetian lagoon under a slate grey sky.

When we arrived at the island of Burano, our taxi was forced to double park, and we trekked across the deck of the other boat as we disembarked. The town was made up of charming canal-side houses, each painted a different vibrant colour by the fisherman who owned it.

The Island of Burano

The lunch in Burano was another highlight of our trip, beginning with a superb seafood risotto that was creamy and delicious, served family-style with wedges of lemon. After second helpings, the risotto was followed by spaghetti with tiny clams, rocket (arugula) salad, and platters of sea bream, calamari and shrimp. There was plenty of wine on hand, and dessert consisted of fresh fruit, biscotti and amaretto. I wish that I knew the name of the restaurant, but I was so busy enjoying the food that I neglected to make a note of it.

After a wonderful meal, there was time to browse in the local shops. Burano is known for its handmade lace.

Burano Lacemaker

Sheltering from the rain under an umbrella pine as we waited for our water taxi, I could see how the tree had earned its nickname.

Tired and wet, we returned to our hotel in Mestre rather than staying in Venice for the evening. We opted for a quick dinner from McDonald's in the train station and started to pack our bags for our morning journey to Florence.

Next:  Renaissance Florence

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