Venice, post lock-down (4 days)
Once in Venice S. Lucia, I left the station and I didn't see any tourists, nor hordes of people queuing for ferries, nor tourist guides waving their wands. Here my parents were waiting for me for few days off together. We walked towards the San Basilio district, passing through the Santa Croce district, and stopped to have a coffee at the Rio Marin Pastry Bar, where they make delicious baci di dama with almond pastry. A great break in the cool, along the canal.
Finding your way around Venice is not easy, its map has the shape of a fish and the non-regular tangle of canals makes it really difficult to understand where the cardinal points are. Fortunately, the signs for the Rialto and the railway in the center help to find the main points in town. In any case, I thought people here were really nice, talkative and kind, so ask them. They only speak their dialect, which makes everything more authentic and funny.
The San Basilio district is a bit away from the center of Venice, there are still many Venetians that live there and resist to the turistification of the city. We stayed in a beautiful little house on the ground floor, in front of a canal, a place of a rare peace.
Here there are several bars and one of the best bacari in Venice, the Codroma. What are bacari? Typical Venetian popular taverns where you can have an aperitif or a meal, at a table or standing up, amazing places to meet, drink and eat something together or on your own. At Codroma there are still old wooden tables, the original counter and various tables outside the canal. Take the mixed starter of sea cicchetti (small portions, with or without bread): scallops, creamed cod, cicadas, squid and much more ... ask what is the special of the day, otherwise opt for the prawns and sardines, fried and consumed in a vinegar sauce, onion and raisins (saor style). Accompany everything with a carafe of house prosecco, the glass of wine here is called Ombra and the croutons with Venetian specialties cicchetti, which look like Spanish tapas.
On the second day we walked around through the streets and canals of the city, reaching the Peggy Guggenheim collection, the Academy of Fine Arts, the Rialto Bridge, the former salt warehouses, sitting down to admire the panorama in the shade on the steps of the Campo della Salute and then to Piazza San Marco which, for the first time in years probably, was empty. Under the arcades there is the famous and very old Caffè Florian, which as legendary as it is, € 3 for a coffee at the counter is too much, so take a look at it, do a toilet break if you have to, and run away =)
Pass by the fabulous Dorsoduro square which with its small gardens surrounded by water it makes you feel in a magical place. There is also a beautiful ex-voto and antiques shop by Claudia Canestrelli.
To eat something, it is absolutely worth reaching the Osteria under the Portego, where you will find a beautiful, convivial and typically Venetian atmosphere. Take a ombra of prosecco and some cicchetti (creamed cod, sardines in saor, stuffed courgette flowers).
July sun doesn't spare anyone, so rest your bellies, walk to the Rialto market and sit at one of the bars by the canal, I recommend Banco Giro, and enjoy a delicious spritz in the shade, refreshed by the breeze of the Canal Grande. It is shocking to think that big cruise ships are still allowed to pass here. Luckily, social fight in Venice exists and there are many movements organising how to reverse the course of tourism, to say no to large ships and to the proliferation of Airbnb apartments at the expense of the inhabitants.
In the afternoon I met a friend from Genova in the Cannaregio district, much more peaceful, popular and relaxing then the center, and then we sat, as the local culture suggests, to drink a prosecco and enjoy a few snacks as aperitif. We went to the Vino Vero wine shop along the Rio della Misericordia, which we recommend especially for the interesting wine selection (https://vinovero.wine).
Then in the evening we ate at the famous Ca 'D'oro Alla Vedova, one of the most beautiful and oldest Bacari in Venice, where you should absolutely try the famous meatballs and the creamed cod, as well as the main fish courses of the Venetian tradition.
On the third day we took the sea buses and reached the island of Murano, famous all over the world for its glass works. Despite a deadly heat, we enjoyed beautiful walks along the canals and the inhabited central district, and we came across one of the most fascinating taverns on the island, the Bisantei, still all in wood, friendly hosts and waiters, in a beautiful green square. The most interesting shop/art gallery we have seen is Salviati, along the Daniele Manin Fodamenta, where you can find and spy in some glass fabric and furnaces.
From Murano we took a ferry to reach another island, Burano, which stands out for its colorful houses. There are still many locals living here and by walking around you will find wonderful spots with a mixture of colors, shadows and seaside that makes this island truly amazing. If you love photography, I recommend you go and find the most suggestive corners. For lunch you can walk along the canal to the island of Mazzorbo, where you will find the La Maddalena restaurant, quite expensive but the location, in the garden, is magical.
Returning in the evening we walked through the Santa Marta district, where the Ca 'Foscari University is also located. It is a very quiet, popular district and you can breathe the air of real life, children playing in the street without cars and traffic, people who meet in the small parks and chat, telling each other their life. The Venetians speak almost always their dialect, and although they've had hordes of tourists for years now, it seems to me they were still curious to know who you are and where you come from, they welcome you in the bacari with authenticity and they try to catch who you are looking at your eyes.
In the evening we went to eat at the San Basilio restaurant (unfortunately quite expensive), along the Giudecca canal, sitting at a table near the water while the sun was going down...a beautiful and relaxing moment. We were next to the sea bus stop, so we could enjoy scenes of everyday life, going back to "normality", after the lock down ... who coming back with shopping bags, from a sport session, gathering on the pier for an aperitif.
On the last day we had breakfast at the neighbourhood bar, very early, with those who had to go to work, with those who had never been able to sleep, with those who still rubbed their eyes. Seeing the sun rise slowly, having the breeze that refreshes your morning's shriveled spirit and observing people's faces, looking over the canals and their lives, filled our eyes.
Then we went to the Rialto market to buy fresh fish and some vegetables and prepare a lunch in our beautiful little house. The best fish counter seems to be the one under the loggia with the U-shaped counter, where they also sell tubs of creamed cod to take it home for an aperitif with your friends !!
Last love walk for Venice and then the train at 3.48 p.m. to Genoa (4 h, about 40 euros).
The Budget: to sleep you should be able to spend between 25-45 €, transfers by bus by ferry cost 5-7 €, to eat out you spend minimum 25 € per person with a starter, a plate and wine. If you want to spend less, try to make at least one of the two meals at home / in the hostel or opt for take away, but, generally, if you like the bacaro life, a glass of wine and two cicchetti cost you around 10 €. Sit at the bar for a coffee (between € 1 and € 2) and for a spritz (between € 2.50 and € 3).
Nice squares to enjoy: Acqua Alta Library, Campo Santa Margherita, Campo San Polo, Campo Santa Barnaba and Calle Lunga (you'll find a wine shop, taverns and small art shops).
Places to go to eat: Bacaro da Lele, Codroma, Alla Vedova Ca 'D'oro, Bacaro Do Mori, Osteria il Portego, Palanca, L'arco, Bacaro I do draghi, L'antico Dolo, Osteria della Bifora (Campo Santa Daisy).