What is one to do when dear, dear friends tell you they have rented a flat in Venice, Italy with a guest bedroom and you must come visit! What do you do to celebrate being 5-years cancer free? You take your friends up on their generous offer and you go celebrate being cancer free! THAT is what you do!
My friend Lynn and I decided to go to Cinque Terre before heading to Venice. After a beyond chaotic air flight with 4 layovers we arrived in Milan. Then we had to take a 3-hour train ride to Manarola. We stayed in an Airbnb. The owner of the place met us outside the train station and took us to her home. The hill looked steep but thankfully we didn’t have to climb a lot of it. What we did climb was 4 sets of stairs to get to the apartment. I took the top floor bedroom and Lynn the lower floor and we both had breathtaking views out our bedroom windows.
We ate these amazing dinners.
I ate Lasagna with Bolognese. It was the best Bolognese ever!!! For dessert, I had a Mascarpone Mousse with Raspberries.
The restaurant was practically out our door. It was so great to be outside and eating so well.
The next day we took a ferry ride the WRONG direction and landed in Monterossa known for their beautiful beaches.
We ate the BEST Vanilla Gelato and the Lemon was good, but quite tart. The joint was called Gelataria Golosone.
We walked the streets and the village.
We took the boat back to Manarola.
That evening we went swimming down among the rocks.
We met people from Florence, Kentucky, which is across the river from Cincy. The water was clear and gorgeous. It was turquoise in the bright sun and navy as the sun started to fade away.
We then took the train over to Vernazza and tried to eat at a restaurant with spectacular views but there was NO way to get a reservation.
We instead ate at a place that I found doing research on the towns. It was under the bright colored umbrellas.
I wanted the tiramisu but they were out! Yes, I was in Italy and I was going to cheat here and there. I figured that a seafood salad allowed for a dessert.
Then we had to get more gelato since no tiramisu. It was good not as good as the one at lunchtime.
The next day we went back to Vernazza. Another train had an accident, so we waited for over an hour for the next train.
I went solo to Portovenere. It is not part of the Cinque Terre, but to me, it was the prettiest town. My friend Jennie recommended it. She said this is where they invented Pesto.
They pluck mussels from the sea and put them on your plate.
Bryon and Shelly swam here and Byron died there.
Well, the ferry turned the corner and it was beautiful. Exquisite! The mountains ahead and the town to the left.
I walked to a fortress on a hill. I ate the mussels. I tasted the pesto. I met some nice folks from Australia and had a wonderful time.
I came home and went back and swam in the sea. I saw a lovely Italian man and he practiced his English on me. His dog curled up on his towel.
I didn’t want to get out of the water.
I then explored the hillside for a well-known restaurant, where I could eat the most fattening meal upon arrival, because I guarantee you that I burned off ALL the calories climbing that long, windy hill and 50 steps to get there. I can’t believe anyone goes to it. It must be good! I begged Lynn to not want to go back, because the walk was so strenuous. How do 90-year old people walk those hills with ease? No wonder why they don’t have heart attacks much. It is because they do hardcore cardio to buy a bottle of wine. Buy a peach.
The next morning we went to breakfast and headed for the train to Milan. The waiter made fun off me. Especially when I asked him to make my bacon crisper. He looked at me like I was an ugly American.
We raced to the train and it was crowded and then our time was tight transferring train platforms. This wonderful train worker helped us get to where we needed to be going.
We landed in Venice and boy has that turned into quite the posh little town. It wasn’t so posh when I was there in the early 90s and not again in 2004, but the train station was downright fancy in comparison to my memory of it.
Charlie and Joan greeted us. We took the Waterbus to their flat.
VENICE @ DUSK
We walked to dinner at COVINO. These two guys opened this joint with the help of Cesar and Diane the owners of Al Covo and The New York Times reviewed them with flying stars. The place was small but quite cozy and quaint. The restaurant is open to the kitchen and contains about 8 tables.
It was a really yummy way to begin the trip to Venice. Thank you so much, Joan and Charlie for the treat.
Let the eating begin….We all shared all the food we ordered.
Pasta with pork Bolognese
Grilled veggies with creamed polenta, sun-dried tomatoes, lots of cheese
Prosciutto with melon, blackberries, etc.
Cod & White Bean, in a tomato Stew
Sea Bream & Sea Bass
Vegetable Gazpacho with egg, blueberries, blackberries
Melon with Mint
The chef that night was Kevin.
The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and made a day journey to Milan!
Here are the highlights….
PICS FROM MILAN
Haute Couture street of shops.
Back to Venice….
What do you do in Venice? You get lost in the alleyways among the shops and eateries filled with anything from high-end couture clothing to t-shirt shops, leather shops, Murano glass shops, and mask shops. There is a Carnivale week in Venice and people used to dress up, wander the streets, restaurants, etc. but sadly no more…they now attend private parties. So, you still see the masks…
And some interesting clothing and shoe ware.
I’m such a big fan of architecture. Beyond the waterways, alleys, footbridges, I love to photograph the buildings. Venice is like no other city in the world.
I have been to China’s Venice and it just doesn’t compare.
One of the things our friends wanted us to see was the Historic Regatta along the Grand Canal. The pageantry was impressive. So were our seats and treats…
After the Regatta, we went to San Marco Square the most famous spot in Venice and home to the famed Basilica and Doges’ Palace and we grabbed seats outside in the Square and drank cafes and listened to music.
One day, Lynn and Joan went to Murano, a small island known for beautiful glass and Chihuly glass. Charlie and I went to Lido to the beach. I fell in love with Lido. I think I could live there. It was so appealing to me. It was tropical with a cute, quaint town filled with outdoor cafes, beautiful homes and the beach…and it was truly lovely.
On the way back to the waterbus, Charlie and I stopped for a late lunch and he said, “Isn’t this the life?” It certainly is and by the smile on his face…he really means it!
I was missing Dulce so you know I had to stop and pet a few local pooches!
We went to dinner at Joan and Charlie’s friends, Cesar and Diane’s restaurant AL COVO. They have become so well known that Jake Gyllenhall was dining there. Another customer said that Alice Waters the famed SF chef and owner of Chez Panisse recommended Al Covo to this gal and told her to go try Diane’s famed desserts.
We went for the 7-course dinner. Everything was a surprise. I didn’t photograph it because I didn’t want to embarrass or mortify Joan. But here is the menu.
Bruschetta- bouche amuse
Sea Bream- raw course
Pickled Sea Bass- marinated course
Razor Clams, shrimp & —— shrimp- steamed course
Pasta with clams & zucchini flowers
Swordfish, eggplant, pesto, pistachio- seared course
Sardines, fennel, onion, potato sticks – salty & fried course
Panna Cotta with berries
Dark chocolate cake
Son Lorenzo was too young but he was so sexy. Richard was the one they wanted to fix me up with who made the best funny faces when he left tables. But again no va va voom.
When I was a senior in college, I worked at a local law firm. I was heading to Europe to backpack and my mom was meeting me in Venice. One of the lawyers recommended this wonderful hotel called Hotel Flora. It was awesome! He also recommended we try this restaurant called Trattoria alla Madonna and try the black squid ink pasta. It was so good that my mom and I ordered seconds. We cancelled the entrees.
I went back in 2004, now I was going with Charlie, Joan and Lynn.
It may look foul to you! It was heavenly to me! And the Tiramisu was killer!!!
Our last day in Venice, Joan had taken us to meet her wonderful friend Gabriele in his wonderful shop on Girabaldi, where we tasted cheeses, balsamic, prosciutto. Joan bought cheese, prosciutto, olives and then went to the bakery and bought a wide variety of bread sticks with bacon, walnuts, and cheese in them.
That night we gathered around their kitchen table and feasted on it all. It was so incredible. Really crunchy & tasty bread sticks slathered with Gorgonzola and prosciutto. Fresh figs, nectarines. It was a meal to replicate over and over again!
Sadly, the trip came to an end and it was time to head back to Milan before a long flight back to the States.
In Milan, we went back to EATALY, which is Mario Batali’s brainchild as far as I’m concerned. I just think the shop is BRILLIANT!!!! I bought food for dinner. I bought a shrimp and squid salad and a fresh salad with flowers. Yes, flowers.
We ate the yummy gelato. We went to some far out shops and spaces…
Corso Como….I read about it in Conde Nast Traveller.
Then Lynn went to Mass at the Duomo and I went wandering…
Then the next morning we were carrying our heavy bags up and down subway stairs and these random strong women (aka read here: angels) helped us with our bags. Yes, women, not men.
We made it to the Milan airport with time for one last Italian cappuccino.
The lady at the ticket counter asked if I wanted to be bumped and stay another night in Milan and get a $500 voucher….so tempting but it was too late for Lynn to do it, so I was good and came home. I sure was tempted…
Then we were off back to the States.
Until we meet again…
Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….