|Riding in the gondola (recommend donning attire to match your driver)|
Venice is filled with canals, gondolas and gift shops filled with Murano glass. It's also home to St. Mark's Square whose perimeter is lined with a palace, a church, numerous cafes and the Adriatic Sea. Throw in a palace-like hotel and exquisite tea room and, yes, this was just about the most enchanting city we've ever visited.
|Gondolier on the Grand Canal (his shirt looks familiar)|
In September, we traveled to Italy and visited Rome, Florence and Venice. On the high-speed train, Venice is a short three-hour trip from Rome, and once off-board the rails. the flurry of activity on the Grand Canal is there to greet travelers. Water taxis, gondolas and shuttle "buses" speed along the wide span of liquid road to navigate the labyrinth of canals throughout the city.
|Chris and Rachel at Hotel Becher|
It gave us a great first impression only to be exceeded by the next stop to our beautiful hotel. Our room at Hotel Becher included a balcony overlooking the water, a crystal chandelier, comfy slippers and - the ultimate - a buffet set up with a silver urn, china cups and tea!
After checking that box, we toured the city and stocked up on a bounty of beautiful Murano glass items. Rachel and I bought some necklaces and upscale bric-a-brace while my husband Chris, enjoyed a little red wine in the Square.
|Rachel inside one of the Murano glass gift stores in St. Mark's Square|
In the evening, our concierge recommended the restaurant, Vini da Pinto for dinner. It was here we had the "house specialty" of white fish baked in salt. It is presented in two stages: first the fresh fish is brought to the table, then once fully covered and baked in its salty blanket, the waiter is back again with a mallet to crack it open for all to see. Amazingly delicious and, surprisingly not salty, we gave it due pollici su!
Vini da Pinto is where we also collided with celebrity. Nick Reynolds of Alabama 3 was there visiting with his entourage and he graciously took photos with our ensemble.
|Dining at Vini da Pinto|
Our last day in Venice was spent having afternoon tea on the Square (a future blog story!), touring the Basilica of St. Mark, (where we visited a special room that contained fascinating and eerie relics of saints) and sampling every Venetian delicacy we could, including chocolate filled crepes at Gelato Di Natura.
|Basilica of St. Marks|
Venice is also home to the Masked Ball, a centuries-old grand affair where paupers and aristocrats celebrated together in anonymity. It fell out of favor at the turn of the last century, only to be revived in the late 1970's. Still going strong today, there are several merchants in Venice that specialize in wigs, masks and fancy attire for those who wish to attend the elaborate event in style.
|I believe I've found my dress for the ball.|
Venice is a tribute to a city's strong will and resilience that, although experiencing a wild history of conflict and power struggles, maintains beauty and charm that has attracted artists for centuries, including Mozart, Byron and Hemingway.
|Oh solo mio. Oh, so Italian!|
Venice has it all: canals, gondolas, fancy gift shops, gourmet food and, yes, even tea! It truly is a magical city and we plan to be back. Adoriamo Venezia!
|Balcony at our room at Hotel Becher|
|View from our hotel balcony pre rush hou|
|Taking a break at one of the many cafes in St. Mark's Square|
|Adoriamo Venezia! We will be back.|