A good night’s sleep for us both, along with a nice breakfast, made for a good start to the day. Chatted for a bit with our hostess, Deborah, who did her best to help me with my still-not-working SIM card (once, that is, she’d verified that we’re voting for Obama – apparently the wrong answer would’ve meant no help and perhaps no roof over our head, I applaud her brazen partisanship). No luck with the SIM card still, but she did point us in the direction of Piazza San Marco, our first destination today.
And it was… hmmm… how shall I say this? Horrible. Not the basilica itself, but the hordes and hordes of people. Just completely hellish. And from what I understand, the crowds we saw today really weren’t that bad. We stood in line for not too long to see the interior of the basilica – very nice, but again with so many people crammed into the small aisles, it was hard to appreciate.
Our difficulties with electronics continued. Before we left, I’d downloaded podcasts of tours of the Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale. As it turned out, I’d neglected to put them on my iPod – and Chris’ iPod ceased operating under mysterious circumstances. Our plans for the day were already getting a bit ragged… as were we.
So, we rode to the top of the Campanile. The view of Venice was quite amazing from up there. After that, we beat a hasty retreat from San Marcos, off in search of the Ca’ Pesaro, home to the Galleria dell’Arte Moderna and the Museo Orientale.
What a fine choice. Both of us felt a million times better away from the cruise ship masses and enjoyed our rather meandering progress. On the way, we passed through the open air fish market, taking in live eels, mountains of shrimp and beautiful fresh fish of all sorts.
Ca’ Pesaro is a palazzo from the 1700’s, now home to a couple of museum spaces. The collection of modern art was not large, but we enjoyed what we saw – especially the sculptures by Adolfo Wildt. Also took a quick spin through the Museo Orientale, which focused largely on Japanese weaponry and decorative arts.
Stopped for lunch at Al Nono Risorto and had OK pizza and very nice wine, served in their large walled garden. People watching was great here – both inside and out – and more than made up for the just-OK pizza…
Back to Corte 1321 for a lie-down (well, a three hour nap in Chris’ case) and then had to decide on dinner plans. The original choice was already fully-booked, so we decided to try a place in a recent NYTimes article. I called and reserved for 9, which was easy enough – despite the fact that the place is closed on Tuesdays as we discovered later that evening. Quite mysterious… I’m still not quite sure who answered the phone and took my reservation…
So, after deciding on a new place, we set off to find it – never an easy task. It took us awhile, but once we found Boccadoro, it was like an oasis. Set on a large campo, we were unsure why we hadn’t been able to get to it from one street over – I guess we still think of cities being laid in a grid and Venice is most decidedly not.
Boccadoro turned out to be a perfect choice. A rather traditional restaurant with white tablecloths and a very charming hostess and server, who made a number of very nice recommendations for both wine and food.
We shared an antipasti of boiled fish – shrimp, langoustine, octopus, sardines – all fresh as can be and served simply. My favorite was the sardine, a fish I tend to approach with trepidation (I was just reading that this is a bad habit of many Americans, who think only of the canned variety). It was certainly more strongly flavored than the others, but it was topped with a marvelously fruity olive oil.
Next we shared black tagilarini with scallops and zucchini – really great, the pasta cooked to perfection and the scallops impeccably fresh. The dish was very simply prepared – wonderfully so.
After our pasta, the chef arrived from the kitchen with two fresh fish – a John Dory and some type of flat fish (regrettably, I did not take a photo – but both fish were beautiful). Upon his recommendation, we chose the John Dory and off he went back to kitchen to prepare it.
By this time, we’d become old friends with the couple sitting next to us, Bryan and Michelle, (from Berkeley no less) who were on the first day of their five-week stay in Venice (sigh… five-weeks…). We talked politics, food, travel… Well, Chris and I talked (as is our wont) and they patiently listened…
Meanwhile, the fish arrived (again no picture – I think I was too busy making some point about Palin’s horrific incompetence to our new friends – you know, the usual…). Very simple and wonderfully prepared. Chris especially loved it, despite his misgivings about being served something with it’s head still attached… But our chef lopped off the head, removed the skin and bones and served us the filets, along with the potatoes and other vegetables cooked in a giant roasting pan.
No dessert tonight, as we finsihed up quite late and wanted to wander the city a bit. We ended up back over at Piazzo San Marco. What a difference. It was nearly empty, save for the various restaurants on the square, some still playing live music. We had a quick and not-too-hideously expensive glass of wine and then headed back to our little B&B.
And, so to bed, for another four or five hours of sleep – jetlag clearly not wearing off as fast as one might hope, which is kind of a drag. But then I just remind myself, “You’re in Venice” and that pretty much makes my day.