Thursday, July 31, 2014


Venice, Italy.  There's no other place like it on earth.  What has to be the most unique city built by man, Venice is a confusing maze of piazzas, canals, bridges, small passageways, dead ends and more bridges.  Tourism is the number one business in Venice with over 60,000 visitors a day, which is more than the actual population of the city.  So that means you have to dig deeper to try to find places Venetians like to eat instead of all the restaurants with "Menu Tourista" in the windows.  Try to skip those!  The flip side of that is that most of the menus are in English, and most people speak our language flutently, which makes mealtime less stressful.  To find the "real Venice" you must walk around, get lost and head out beyond touristy places like Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge.  But hey, I am a tourist on my first trip to Venice so I am trying to bridge that gap.  Pun intended.  

Hotel Luna Baglioni

Hotel Luna Baglioni is just steps from Piazza San Marco, the most famous square in Venice.  It is conveniently located right off the Grand Canal, with a gondola or water taxi dock right in front of the lobby.  The hotel was fantastic and the staff were very helpful, even thought the concierge had a chuckle when we asked for dinner in a non-touristy restaurant.  

 Arriving via Water Taxi

Hotel Luna Baglioni
Amenities for the kids


 View from our balcony

View of the Campanile from our balcony one foggy morning
Same view in the afternoon
 Gondola stand
 Hotel entrance

Looking towards the Grand Canal


Campanile di San Marco
The Campanile di San Marco stands 323 feet and is the tallest structure in Venice.  The original tower, which dated back to the 12th century, collapsed in 1902.  The current campanile was completed in 1912.  An elevator whisks you up to the top pretty quickly for breathtaking views of the entire city.


Basilica San Marco stands behind the campanile.  The original cathedral dates back to the 9th century but the one that stands today was complete in the 13th century.

Basilica San Marco

The kids in Piazza San Marco with some world famous pigeons

A short walk from Piazza San Marco...
You reach..
The Bridge of Sighs, which was built in 1600.  It connects the interrogation rooms of Doge's Palace on right and the prison on the left.  The bridge got its name from Lord Byron, who said prisoners sighed as they took their last look of Venice before going behind bars.

Of course we had to take a Gondola ride and you do too!  They cost about 80 euros for an hour ride that is usually a round trip, but took ours on a one way trip back in the direction of our hotel after a long day of traversing the city. It is a great way to see the nooks and crannies of the city.

It was the highlight of the trip, according to the kids!

Selfie with a gondoleer

Family photo

 Ready to go

The Gondola stand where we got dropped off on the Grand Canal


Ristorante Al Giardinetto Da Severino

We arrived in Venice just in time to eat dinner.  We checked into our hotel and asked the concierge for a non-touristy restaurant suggestion.  He laughed and suggested we walk a bit out of the way to go to Ristorante Al Giardinetto Da Severino, which was amazing.  Their fresh pastas and seafood are top notch.

Crab appetizer

Amazing Clams and Spaghetti

Squid ink pasta with calamari

Fried Seafood

Al Testiere

Al Testiere is a small restaurant nestled next to a pizza shop selling Sicilian-style square slices that was tempting even though we had arrived at dinner.  Right across the street there was a man in a workshop blowing glass, which was a treat since we didn't venture off to Murano to see the real deal.  Anyway, everything here was super fresh.  The Shrimp and Caprese salad was refreshing and the Clams and Spaghetti was spot-on.  Al Testiere also serves one of the most-unique dishes I have ever tried.  It is a Gnocchetti with Calamari in a cinnamon sauce, there is a lot going on there.  The Tiramisu is the stuff dreams are made of.  The cozy spot has about 20 seats so make a reservation ahead and be prepared to chat with your neighbors.

Alle Tastiere


Caprese salad with Shrimp

Gnocchetti with squid in a cinnamon sauce

Amazing Tiramisu

Il Doge

  Il Doge
Scooping out a vanilla and nutella gelato
A very happy traveler

Amazing old school Pasticceria!  Cakes, cookies, pastries and more.

Venice is a beautiful and unique city.  I am glad I finally got to take in its wonders.  Until next time.