Venice: Ti adoro
Ciao Venezia! After leaving Cinque Terre in Italy, the bar was set pretty high for the rest of the trip. Good thing the next stop was Venice! I didn't have much time in Venice, so I was determined to make the most of the time I did have.
To arrive to Venice, you have to take a water taxi to get there which is very nice. Water taxis are the limousines of Venice. On the water taxi, you could either sit on the top with open air seating or sit below. Generally, water taxis can hold up to 10 people depending on the size of the boat. The water taxis that are licensed have a yellow stripe with a license number. Be careful not to just get into any water taxi.
Upon arrival, I took a walk through Piazza San Marco to the gorgeous Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco. The cathedral is one of the most famous examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Honestly, I saw some of the most beautiful architecture with gorgeous paintings inside. I took a quick tour of the church where, unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take photos. Also before entering the cathedral you are expected to cover your shoulders and have your knees covered. I also walked around the piazza and just took in this beautiful town in Northern Italy.
Venice is known for canals. Every street has a bridge or a dead end where the canals flow through. For hours my friend and I wondered through and lost ourselves through the picturesque canals. Every twist and turn there was another canal with a bridge we could explore. One of the best parts was standing on the bridge and watching a gondola pass underneath us. While in Venice, I had an opportunity to take a gondola ride! Before taking a gondola ride, here are a few things that crossed my mind. First, the canal water is disgusting. It is this green colored water that had trash floating in it with a funky smell. Secondly, I was super excited to get a ride but very nervous about actually getting on the gondola. I was concerned I would tip the gondola or worse, fall into the gross water. Luckily, the gondoliers were a big help in assisting people on and off. The ride itself was a nice experience although I was disappointed that they didn't sing to us (I was disappointed to find out most gondoliers do not sing and might even get annoyed if you ask them to sing). I was tickled when I saw gondoliers wearing black and white striped shirts. The gondola I rode on was black and red. One of the best parts about the ride was going through the narrow streets and under the bridges. It was picturesque. A gondola can hold up to six people. Sadly, the ride only lasted 20 minutes. I got a great deal on the gondola ride, but normally the prices could go up to 100 euros or more. They have different options like 80 euros for 40 minutes and as the night goes on the prices go up. I personally would never pay that much for a ride, but luckily enough I was able to get a really good deal. But I do suggest everyone take a gondola ride in Venice at least once in life to experience it!
When in Venice, I had the opportunity to visit a real Italian family's winery, Vignaluna Winery. For someone who isn’t seasoned on how wines compliment meals, it was a great experience hearing how the different wines pair with food from the winemakers perspective. The Vignaluna Winery is located in the fertile Veneto region of Italy. It was a short 35 minute drive from Mestre. Interestingly, the Raboso and Verduzzo grapes used in Vignaluna wines only grow in the Veneto region, giving their wine an exclusive taste. We drove out to the middle of the country to Vignaluna Vineyards. This is a family-owned vineyard that produces delicious wine manually. What does that mean? No big machines – no mass production – no unnecessarily added chemicals, all natural. For the Lunardelli family, making wine has been in the family for for three generations. The current wine maker, Giovanni Lunardelli, received degrees from the State Technical Farming Institute in Conegliano before becoming a fully-fledged enologist in 1998. I got a tour of the vineyard and then headed inside for some wine tasting and dinner. There were five wines served for tasting: Prosecco, Moscato, Rosato, Chardonnay, and Raboso. Food was continually served as the wine was being tasted. It was interesting to listen to the wine maker discuss the flavors in each of the wines and why they pair well with the meal. Everything was made fresh in the kitchen by one of the family members. The meal we were served consisted of pasta and bruschetta. The founder of the winery, Luigi Lunardelli, even joined us for dinner. In addition to being a wine maker in his youth, he was also an opera singer! He sang 2-3 songs to us in Italian which was beautiful. Such a special treat for the family to have us in their home and show us their family winery.
Ciao for now.