Day 5 (Part II) London and Italy: Touring Venice

We arrive at Ferrovia about an hour before our meeting time for the tour so we decide to walk around the train station. The area is naturally a little touristy, but nothing like it is near Rialto. We pick a direction and check out some of the little shops and never ending gelateria. Mrs. AT decided to check out a cool little Italian Lululemonish place called Tezenis Intimo which sells some very comfy and cool underwear and sleep wear. She didn’t end up getting anything but I picked up a few great T-shirts.

Venice Gondolier

We make our way back to the meeting point a few minutes early and find that everyone else is already there. Ziggy, our tour guide, hands out our little radio receivers and disposable head phones, does a quick radio check, and we promptly head off towards our gondolas. One of the nice things about taking the Artviva gondola tour is that you get to go down some of the less busy canals, avoiding some of the long gondola line-ups that we’ve witnessed. In addition to seeing some of the usual sights along the Grand Canal we also got to see some of how the quieter real canals work which watching people loading boats in and out of buildings, make deliveries, and all the other things regular Venetians do just around the corners from most tourists.

Instead of trying to remember and describe everything that we saw from the boats and the subsequent walking tour, I’ll just add some photos here:

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Having a walking tour of Venice turned out to be very useful later on as we found that anytime we got lost we only had to keep walking for a few minutes before we’d come across something we’d seen on the walking tour. As the tour worked its way towards San Marco square, we could always find our way back.

After the walking tour arrived at San Marco we had 45 minutes to kill before the Doge’s Palace and St. Marks Basilica. After getting yet another gelato to beat the mid-day heat, we decided to stop in at the Hard Rock Café around the corner from the piazza for a drink and to use their modern and reasonably clean restroom facilities.

Again, some photos from the San Marco portion of our tour and from the boat cruise down the Grand Canal afterwards. No pics from inside the buildings, though, as people who don’t know how take pictures without a flash have ruined it for the rest of us and all photography has been banned inside.

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After our tour we ask Ziggy for a suggestion on a place to eat near Zattere and she doesn’t hesitate to recommend Pizzeria Al Casin Dei Nobili, right next to Gelati Nico which we’ve heard is the best Gelato place in Venice. After taking the Vaporetto back to our hotel to change and drop off my camera gear, we head to the restaurant and ask for Roger as directed by Ziggy.

The pizza place is not far from the Zattere stop and has a seating area right on the water. The food is not as gourmet as Linea dOmbra, with a much more tourist friendly menu, but despite the fact that most of the English speaking clientele was eating pizza there were also some tables that spoke pretty good Italian eating off of the sizeable non-pizza portion of the menu.

Gelati Nico in Venice

As we started working our way through the menu with the waiter he made some great suggestions including that we share some of the courses and we ended up having a great meal and paid about a third of what we paid at the fancier place the night before. After our meal we (of course) sampled the ice cream at Gelati Nico and took a nice slow walk back to the hotel. After a long day of walking I managed to fall asleep a little earlier, but still woke up early.

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