Destinations Magazine

Venice - Off the Beaten Track

By Laurawh77 @travladventurer
Venice BridgesDSC_0595
After  a quick stroll across the Ponte della Paglia we headed up the Calle della Rasse, which is a popular street near the main square for shopping and eating. Even though it wasn't really time for lunch by Venetian standards we were starving since we had missed breakfast today. As we walked we had our first chance to really admire the residential and commercial Venetian architecture. We had seen the royal residences and a few large churches on our way up the canal but now we were in the thick of commercial store fronts, residential balconies peering over ever street and small, brightly decorated restaurants with their daily catch on display in the front window.
Fresh Fish outside Restaurants
As you can see above, seafood is one of Venice's specialties. Fresh fish is brought in from the sea every day and used a marketing device to lure in diners. Most Venetian's don't eat until 2pm but some of these restaurants were open since they are so close to the tourist attractions. Immediately Sarah and I knew we couldn't go much further and we passed by a quiet, enchanting little restaurant with a few pizzas that were simply calling our name. The man finally came to the door and graciously let us inside. We were slightly nervous since this was out first dinning experience in Venice and in Italy but this was one of the restaurants on the strip that wasn't too brash and loud when it came to their customers and we settled in quickly to a booth inside.IMG_2108
There was sometime about this restaurant that simply felt Venetian. It was so close to the sea and you could smell the cool, fresh ocean air blowing in the door. We quickly ordered a water, as we were parched from our long morning walk and quickly picked out two different pizzas. After sitting for a moment we got the chance to look around us. We were in a beautiful restaurant that was dimly lit but enchanting glass chandeliers and surrounding us was hundreds of different pieces of Venetian ephemera and nick-nacks. I couldn't stop my eyes my dashing around the room. There were old pictures of family in Venice in the 30's, small paintings and maps of ancient Venice and lush, ornamental wallpaper and carpet all over the place. Maybe it was cheesy or touristy for some but I was drinking in all the wonderful decor. I went off to the bathroom and if that was fantastically decorated with amazing velvet paisley wallpaper.
When the pizza arrived, our jaws dropped. It was seemingly glowing with an angelic halo floating atop the glistening cheese. I got a wonderful veggie pizza with artichokes, olives, mushrooms and other wonderful vegetables. It was incredible. The best pizza I had ever eaten by far. It melted in my mouth and all of the vegetables were so creamy as the olive oil sprinkled on top infused the vegetables. This was real pizza. Every aspect of the food was real. Nothing tasted processed, canned or off. It was fresh and even though relatively had such complex flavors in the spices that surrounded the crust. Neither of us could finish our giant pizzas, we should have shared, but had we eaten before today we might have given our stomach a chance to stretch and make room for this magnificent creation. We happily gave the chef our compliments and left to walk off our giant meal.
It had heated up quite a bit and we were finally getting slightly tired from our early morning and my sleepless night. We decided to walk home through backstreets and small canals to get back to our hotel. This was an amazing walk home since it was generally off the beaten track and took us through the real Venice.
All the street were relatively quiet in this area and people were going about their daily lives, bring home groceries, drinking a tea on the balcony and even walking their dog. I met this dog on the side walk and could have stood their petting it forever.
Venetian Mask StoreVenetian Masks
As we walked, as passed by many different shops selling the traditional Venetian Masks that are another iconic image of Venice and the popular festival held in Venice in February called Carnivale. Carnival began in the beginning of the 14th century as a large party to celebrate the ending of Lent. During Carnival people were allowed to don masks so there could be no differentiation between nobility and the common people. There are rumors that during Carnivale you had to leave your door open and there were times when someone would come home to find that someone else was hosting a party in their home. It was a wonderfully theatricality part of Venice's personality and these masks shops give you a glimpse into what wonders and beautiful costumes and masks would be on display during carnival.
Venice CanalsDSC_0639
I fell in love with this one row of houses, shown on the left here, with their rainbow pinwheels in each of their garden baskets hanging over the canals. During our walk we event passed by the Hotel did not look so good....
Venice Palazzo
This is the beautiful Campo Santa Maria Formosa, whose church of the same name stands in the center of the campo behind a small cafe. This was a lovely campo which was otherwise pretty dormant this time of day. And it was not very little, this was one of the large campos we had been too making it a strange sight to see after walking through tiny streets over small canals.  This campo is very well kept since the surrounding houses are all old palace and famous residences of Venetian aristocracy.
As it reached mid afternoon the cafe and restaurants began to fill up! People are keen to eat lunch at about 3pm...I don't know how their work days can long between morning and lunch, and then why even come back?
DSC_0652My favorite thign about living in Venice was doing what this lady was doing. Just hanging out the window and people watching. So many amazing people walking down the street, talking with such loud and boisterous voices. DSC_0648Another lovely campo to stop and take a sip of water or a chat with a friend. Venice CanalsDSC_0620 
On our very last leg home to our hotel we walked through this old, and less manicured alley way. Clothes were hanging in the middle of the street and people had their scarves hung to dry off the metal bar tracery outside their windows. There was not a single soul but us walking down this street by the time we had gotten halfway down. Only the sound of the bird flying above and our footsteps on the ground could be heard.  The bricks falling away and the fading paint on the walls showed the age of this street but not in a bad way. In a very quiet moment, you could hear the faint sound of water under your feet and I truly felt I was finally Venice

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog