October 17, 2005: We walked, and then walked some more
After feasting on strawberries, kiwis, and some delicious formaggi, we left our apartment shortly after 9am for “due cappucino” at our cafe on the Strada Nova. We then decided to try taking a traghetto across the Grand Canal to visit the fruit and veg markets on the other side.
The traghettos look almost exactly like gondolas, except these are part of the public transportation system. Traghettos transport native Venetians and visitors alike across the Grand Canal, since there are not enough bridges to accommodate the traffic.
After disembarking from the traghetto, we were still reeling a bit (that boat was rockin’) and so took a slow stroll through the fruit and veg markets. I bought a container of raspberries and savored them one by one as wandered the narrow streets of the sestiere of San Polo for what we dubbed “The Great Campo Tour”. Using a detailed map as our guide, we sought out campos (squares) as we could, delighting in each one’s unique personality – the campos San Polo and Santa Margherita were favorites of mine.
We then worked our way down through the Dorsoduro sestiere, which is home to at least one university and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection was amazing, as Michael and I were able to indulge our love for modern art. Chock full of works by Pollock, Chagall, Dali, and numerous others, a beautiful sculpture garden, and perhaps the biggest highlight of all – the sweeping view of the Grand Canal from the back of the museum – it was well worth the time, money, and sore legs.
After our museum visit, we continued on to the Church of Santa Maria della Salute – one of the most famous buildings in all of Venice and one which I’m sure you’ve all seen in paintings or photographs.
There was actually a mass going on when we visited, and as long as we didn’t use a flash, they allowed photography and videotaping. I didn’t expect to find it all that interesting but it was actually one of the highlights of a trip brimming with memorable moments.
Tired from miles of walking, we popped over to the other side of the Dorsoduro and watched art students doing pencil drawings of San Giorgio Maggiore and then took the vaporetto home where we rested a bit before dinner.
After resting up a bit we headed out for dinner at a cozy osteria called Osteria da Alberto. We arrived “early” (about 7:15pm) without a reservation but they said they could accommodate us if we could finish by 8:45pm. We laughed and said that would be plenty of time. We ordered a 1/2 litre of the house white wine (we didn’t hate it), and then split a primi (the best spaghetti with pesto either one of us has ever had), and secondi (incredibly tender and flavorful steak served with lightly sauteed baby tomatoes, perfectly in season). The entire bill including tip came to about 40 Euros. Although it wasn’t a large meal (by American portion standards, at least) it was absolutely delicious and the simple preparation did great justice to the quality of the raw ingredients.
Still high from our first truly great meal in Italy, we wandered the sestiere of San Marco, bought a “cono” of gelato each, and went back to Piazza San Marco to take some photographs of the square all lit up. The Piazza was not at all crowded and with the lights and the sounds of the orchestra playing, I felt like I was in some alternate universe. Pure magic.
It was hard to leave but it was getting cold and the lure of a warm bed was calling us home. The vaporetto carried us safely to our stop at Ca D’Oro and we limped home and curled up for a long and satisfying sleep.