Interrail Journals #9: Venice and Festa del Redentore


Day 1: Venice & Festa del Redentore

A Walk Around Venice

Although not the longest journey of this holiday, the train ride from Milan to Venice feels like an eternity because… Mister is waiting for us on the other side to join us for the weekend. And not for just any old weekend, we’re here right in time for the Festa del Redentore Festival!

But before the Venice sky is lit with a thousand fireworks (to celebrate the end of the terrible plague back in 1576), we have a whole day of sightseeing… And it starts with a hearty breakfast in our hotel, Hotel Metropole Venezia, which looks more like a museum than a hotel:

Hotel Metropole Venezia

Plus, being located in the Castello sestiere of Venice, it’s only a brisk 10 min walk away from the famous Piazza San Marco:

Piazza San Marco with its daily dose of tourists

After some sightseeing involving the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) and the beautiful Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), we stop at Caffe Florian for a quick coffee accompanied by live music.

Even if sitting outside, make sure to stop and enjoy the beautiful interior of the world’s oldest working Café.
Some of us opt for healthier options…
… while some of us (me!) go for full gluttony package

This place brings back memories… I remember being here -must be more than 10 years ago- with my mum. We were sitting in roughly the same spot on a much colder April morning, when a tall, gorgeous lady in a geometric patterned black and white dress and high heels, clad with a Chanel shopping bag on one hand walked past us, leaving my mum in a desperate need to go shopping and me with the first indication that the high school emo look was perhaps not going to be my forever look as I thought it would be 🙂

Snatching myself away from memories that I can’t help but find equally embarrassing and endearing (hey there, self-love!), I join my brother and boyfriend back in modern times. We finish our coffees and lose ourselves in the picturesque streets of this City of Love.

Through little alleyways and past the canals with cheery gondoliers, museums and beautiful churches like the Church of Saint Mary of the Lily (Chiesa di San Maria del Giglio), we make it to Palazzo Grassi to see Damien Hirst‘s most gargantuan project to date.

Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio

A Little Art: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

The premise of the exhibit is the fictional discovery of an ancient shipwreck off the coast of East Africa in 2008… Whether fictional or real, you have to admit the idea itself is scintillating. The work, on the other hand, has both been lauded and despised. I am not a contemporary art connoisseur by any means, but I have to say I agree with both camps. Some of the work is absolutely exquisite giving you the feeling of a true reveal, of being rescued after many many years underwater, while some are rather kitsch.

I suppose the question is: Do you want this to be a truly immersive experience where you second guess your eyes and consider the possibility of these being real? Or do you like your art with a side of cheekiness -in this case, in the form of a coral-covered Mickey Mouse-? Either way, I think you will find something you like in this exhibit… Unlike my brother, who was not as convinced as he was with David. But oh well, you can’t win them all, can you? 🙂


Lunch & Gondola Ride

As we step out of the gallery and back into reality, we all agree that lunch is long overdue. Yet with a hefty pre-firework dinner not that far away, we decide to go for something small. And in Venice, this, of course, means one thing and one thing only: Cicchetti, the Venetian version of tapas usually enjoyed perched atop a stool in a bacaro, with a glass of wine.

Our bacaro of choice, Bacaro da Fiore, comes highly recommended. And I am looking forward to trying their baccala mantecato (creamed cod) and arancini (risotto balls, a personal favourite of mine).

As it turns out though, Bacaro da Fiore is actually inside (or rather right next to) the “Trattoria da Fiore”. My fellow travellers are immediately tempted by the possibility of a sit-down meal, so in the end, we opt for the trattoria side instead. But as both places are rather quiet, I am told they can bring our cicchetti there. Heaven!

We leave the place in culinary bliss to head back to our hotel for a little rest, but not without saying hi to the pretty La Fenice Opera House, finally dabbling in some ceramics shopping and even managing to squeeze in a little off-peak gondola ride! I know, I know, so cliché.. but boy did we enjoy it!

I have been trying to get my hands on some ceramics since San Gimignano but struggled with space (plus, they’re not exactly easy to carry on an Interrail-type journey)- luckily Mister came to rescue!

We must have lucked out, or perhaps accidentally picked up a better starting point or time, since we had none of that canals overcrowded with gondolas and tourists nightmare I had heard so much about. Just me, Mister and my brother, gliding down the canals with our gondolier humming a beautiful tune…


Dinner at Met Restaurant & Festa del Redentore

After a little rest, we are ready for our long-awaited dinner at the Michelin starred Met Restaurant. It is by far the most extravagant meal we’ve had on this journey, but it’s totally worth it! The atmosphere is amazing and the food is so fresh and delicious!

Alfresco dining at its best!

They have a special menu and wine pairing for the Festa del Redentore as well, which looks like:

Met's Festa del Redentore Menu

All very delicate, beautifully presented and delicious:

Gorgeous, right?

And it doesn’t end there. They even have handmade ice cream ready for you to enjoy while watching the Festa del Redentore fireworks… How great is this!?

Festa del Redentore - Ice Cream Celebration

And finally, the main event: Redentore Festival!

A 45-minute firework display over the Il Redentore (Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore) and the lagoon which is now filled with boats, all decorated and shimmering. What a magnificent end to a magnificent day!

Festa del Redentore Fireworks

You can follow our itinerary here:


Day 2: Murano & Venice

Off to Murano

The amazing hospitality team in our hotel informs us that they have a complimentary shuttle service to Murano should we wish to go there, and we jump at the opportunity. One thing they very casually failed to mention: Our shuttle is actually a gorgeous little private water taxi!!

So, here we are living our best life, listening to the engine as we brace the choppy waters between Venice and Murano… in our very own private boat!

So, what’s the catch, do I hear you ask? Well, there isn’t one. Not really. True, we are immediately taken to a glass factory to watch a brief glassblowing demonstration followed by a tour of the factory (which is essentially one massive showroom), but you’re not obliged to buy anything… Having said that, I dare you to try and resist some of these beauties!

After the show and the tour, we are given some time to wander around Murano (which is pretty but perhaps a little too lethargic for my taste) before our shuttle takes us back.


Back to Venice & More Food

On the way back, we are once again greeted by the gorgeous views, including that of the famous Rialto Bridge.

By now, we are all quite hungry, so we stop by the first place that catches our eyes, which happens to be Osteria al Garanghelo with its cute little tables outside. The food is tasty but perhaps a little too rich for a very hot afternoon, so we wash it down with an ice-cold beer… Refreshing!

After our al fresco lunch, we let ourselves get lost in the busy streets of Venice for one last time, taking pictures and visiting shops as the sun slowly sets over the pastel dream that is Venetian architecture.

Il Baule D’oriente

For our last dinner, we head to Ristorante ai Barbacani, a cute little restaurant I saw the day before as we were wandering around. I fell in love with the flowers dangling over its window sills, the mood lighting and especially the table by the big beautiful window, which seemed to be floating only a few inches from the canal.

I had no idea what the food would taste like (although I did Google it later) but I told my brother and Mister: Let’s eat there tomorrow!

Ristorante ai Barbacani

So here we are, sitting at the said table overlooking the canal (although on second thought, it would probably be better to visit during the day as it’s too dark outside to see the canal) and the food does not disappoint… We go for all the stereotypical Italian dishes you can think of (like the proper tourists that we are) and they are all delicious!

Tiramisu

I don’t know about you but I cannot think of a better way to say goodbye to the magical city of Venice and Mister -who will leave us in the morning and go back to work-.

Buona notte to you all,

GG


Next stop: Ljubljana!

Photo credits: Goya Galeotta © – www.goyagaleotta.com Tom Dymond © – www.tomdymond.co.uk

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Goya in Spanish Steps

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