How we spent a wonderful, relaxing and easy going Saturday in Venice
Normally from June to September, when we're not working during the weekend, Vito and I always go to one of the lagoon's island -mostly the Lido- in order to escape both the crowds and the humidity of Venice, but after the big storm the weather has been simply wonderful, so last Saturday we wanted to remain in Venice to unwind and enjoy our city.
The first destination was the pastry shop Rosa Salva located in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo. We go there every weekend for our second breakfast to read the papers and enjoy a sweet or savoury treat. This historic pastry shop has outdoor seating and in this season being there, enjoying the breeze and the shade offered by the garden umbrella is so pleasurable that it has become a sort of rite. The white tablecloth, the waiters in livery, the original wooden and marble furniture of the interiors and the nearly metaphysical beauty of that square, make me feel as if I were on vacation even if I live not even 5 minutes from here! The counter is always very busy, but once you sit down...that's it! The only problem is getting up again...
But a few days ago there was the opening of David Hockney's temporary exhibition at the Ca' Pesaro museum and we were both quite curious, so we left.
Ca' Pesaro is one of the museums to which I feel more attached to in Venice (because when I was at university my contemporary art professor would always take us there, because it says a lot about our local history and because it is simply beautiful). Ca' Pesaro, compared to the Doges Palace for example, is not visited as much, while for me it's a little jewel. On the ground floor there is a lovely cafeteria that overlooks the Grand Canal and sometimes we come here just for a coffee to enjoy the view and the peace of the terrace. There is also a piano (it's a new trend, many train stations, airports and hospitals have a piano that anyone can play) and when we entered an American girl was playing some pieces from The Piano by Michael Nyman. Oh wow...she was really brilliant!
On the first floor there is the permanent collection, on the second floor they hold temporary exhibitions and on the top floor there is the oriental art museum.
David Hockney's exhibition was amazing: a series of 82 portraits and 1 still life, organised by the London Royal Academy in collaboration with Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia, that offers a vision of Hockney's relationships with the figures of the art world in L.A., all depicted on the same chair with the same background. I won't say more because you should really see it yourself! The exhibition will be in Venice until the 22nd of October (2017) and then it will move to Bilbao and then L.A.
After the exhibition I was starting to feel a little hungry, so from Ca'Pesaro we slowly walked towards the Dorsoduro neighbourhood passing through Calle dei Scaeteri, Campo San Stin and Frari (my favourite church in Venice where some years ago, by the way, I saw a concert with Michael Nyman). From Frari in less than 10 minutes we reached our destination: Cantinone Già Schiavi, one of the most known and written about places in Venice for cicchetti. I love this place, it has always had the same owners and their crostini are always delicious. There is no seating, here you come to drink and snack and their cicchetti are mainly crostini, sliced pieces of mortadella served with a pickled pepper, a small pickle onion with a rolled anchovy stuffed with capers (the best) and express sandwiches. When I lived nearby I would always buy wine and spirits to take away, the prices are excellent and you can find lots of very good wines at an amazing value.
The assortment of crostini is so very inviting that you must try as many varieties you can. Before discussing the toppings, a note on the price: 1,20 each. Brilliant! In Venice the average goes from 1,50 to 2,50 and sometimes even more depending on the topping. Here, although they recently raised the prices (of 0.20 cents...), they are still very competitive and quality is guaranteed.
Now the toppings. I won't list all but my favourites are: brie and nettle sauce, baccalà mantecato, octopus with aubergines, marinated swordfish, salted cheese and radicchio.
I'm sure you already know, but just in case, when you exit Cantine Schiave, a few metres left, on the other side of the canal, there is one of the few squeri (shipyards for gondolas) left in Venice; maybe you might have seen this particular one in the scene of "The Italian Job", when a -way too fast- water taxi splits a gondola in two? Does it ring a bell?
Anyway, from Schiavi we didn't go very far... it was too nice to leave, so we sat down at Al Chioschetto alle Zattere for a drink and lazed about. The nice thing about Venice is that we all know each other, so when we go out we are never alone, we constantly meet people in the street and it's an on-going gossip and socialising. The view from the kiosk is stunning (when there isn't a private yacht parked in front of it - sorry, do excuse me but I had to say this), you have the Giudecca in front of you, so the skyline alone is a good reason to come here. The kiosk is an easygoing and happy place and the people that come here are of all sorts: university students, locals of every age, foreigners... and everyone loves it!
It was afternoon already and we still had to finish the shopping for the evening dinner (we had friends over), so we obliged ourselves to leave and head back towards home, this time crossing the Accademia bridge, Santo Stefano square and San Luca. From there to our house it is impossible to avoid the crowds, but to make this passage pleasant we stopped for an ice-cream at Gelato Natura in Bacino Orseolo. Gelato Natura is a top quality ice-cream, the company opened in 1982 and is based in the Veneto (close to Padua), the materials sourced are all natural with no additives, no preservatives and no hydrogenated fats and the creamy texture of the ice-cream is given by an old style "mantecatura" obtained through small batch freezers with rotating paddles. Luckily we didn't have to queue, their ice-cream is sooooo good that sometimes we have to wait. I recommend the dark chocolate, pistachio and the cookie flavours.
The staff is very friendly and the portions are quite generous, so you could easily have a gelato for lunch... but it was Saturday! And this is one of my favourite gelatos in Venice.
Finished the ice-cream we had to get cooking for our friends! So we rushed home and began cleaning the fish and chopping vegetables. Anyway, I spent a wonderful day in total laziness, doing nothing "special" really, just relaxing and reminding myself why I love living here so much. When I have my friends and loved ones and a beautiful city like this, what else do I really need? I just can't help thinking how lucky I am for all I have...really...
As you know, in the evening we stayed home with some friends, but if you are thinking of dining out and need suggestions, have a look at my favourite places in Venice.
All of Venice is so beautiful that it is really easy to enjoy it, just get out from the San Marco area and you will discover a precious antique little world, made of simple things and easy going and friendly people.
Talk to you soon!