A couple of weeks ago, I took my wife to Venice for a short break. It was from Thursday to Sunday.
BA, from Heathrow to Venice direct. After a short delay in taking off due to the weather. All went well; the staff were charming and helpful. Very good eggs Benedict in the lounge before take-off; Matt, our assistant, was also very charming and courteous.
Food on the outward journey was breakfast, bacon okay, a bit salty and fatty. I love fat but cooked, not warmed and flaccid. Sausage is good, plus eggs, very difficult to do. Bread okay, warm with okay coffee, all in all very good.
Return flight, again good, excellent food. I had nice hot chicken with peppers, olives and soft polenta. My wife had pasta, lobster sauce and prawns, again very nice. No dessert, just a thin wedge of cheese with no flavour and rubbery. The accompanying minute square of Membrillo was nice but not enough.
The help through passport control was magnificent, quick and very well organised. I loved it.
Baglio, right next to the legendary Harry’s bar and a stone’s throw from St Mark’s Square, was perfect. We had not stayed here before but was a recommendation from a friend.
Lovely clean rooms, very good front-of-house staff and great attention to detail, including turn down, brilliant concierge (Pierluigi) and prompt room service.
This is not a cheap place, but you get what you pay for, especially here in Venice, and boy, do you pay; more about this later. I sent an email to Pierluigi asking to book 4 restaurants. Within 2 hours, all came back confirmed with water taxis organised also. That’s service!
We ate Harry’s Dolci the first night across the water. It rained hard but did not diminish our enthusiasm. Our friends loved the quick boat trip.
The restaurant is like an Italian version of the Ivy, right on the quay. The menus are simple, with a spread of local and not-so-local dishes. Our waiter came from Yorkshire (so he says), is charming and funny.
Friday lunch, we went to a favourite of mine Restaurant Madonna, just down from the famous Rialto Bridge. It’s in a small back alley, and you would struggle to find it, but worth the effort.
Again simple Venetian dishes using really fresh local fish; always a good sign is it’s packed full of locals.
The house wine comes in a stone carafe which I like; not brilliant, but okay and passable.
Friday night was a first for me. We went to the famous Cipriani across the lagoon. You know it will be expensive when they have their own ‘free’ beautiful water taxi. So I was expecting great things…….However, I was slightly disappointed. The room and service are very nice, and I have no complaints about that.
It was a bit odd when I had to pay for my pre-dinner drinks in the bar before we went to the restaurant as it was ‘too far away’, said the barman. Now, when I’m paying nearly £80 for 4 drinks, I expect a certain amount of common sense and also very smooth service.
Saturday Lunch was at Locanda Cipriani, Torcello
The best bit here is the water taxi ride some 40 minutes across the lagoon. On a wonderful day, it’s fantastic.
The restaurant is at the end of a small canal and was a favourite of Princess Diana. There are a few rooms, but it’s a great place to come for a lazy weekend lunch. The staff are amazing and well turned out.
We started with various starters, including stuffed courgette flowers, followed by fried squid, soft shell crab, artichoke pasta and Osso Buco, braised veal shin with vivid saffron risotto.
Puds were fruit-based, with lots of strawberries and cream and a selection of crème Brule’s
There is something so nice about eating outside on a warm day. It was really enjoyable.
Of course, nobody can complain about Venice, really, and it’s so unique and breathtaking. With plenty to do for everyone. Okay, it can be a bit smelly at times, and it’s very busy, but even then, it has a certain magic. The residents range from lovely, helpful, courteous people to rip-off merchants with the charm of a sloth. Thankfully I have never been mugged, but spending time there makes me feel like I have been mugged in such a nice way. By that, I mean everything is so expensive, so over the top expensive, that when they relieve you of 9 Euros for a cappuccino, you feel obliged to leave a tip and shake hands. Then walk away, saying to yourself, HOW MUCH!
VALUE FOR MONEY
Good question. On the face of it, no, and yes, I could have done it a bit cheaper and not eaten at so many places. But that’s the whole point of coming here to soak up the atmosphere, eat the food and experience a civilised mugging.
Although it’s not added generally, you are expected to tip and tip well, whether it’s a Gondolier chap waiter or water taxi driver. The look they give you if you don’t is quite withering.
WOULD I GO AGAIN
Of course, I love it and always get excited about going; however, I need to save up!!