UPDATE MARCH 2019: THIS RESTAURANT IS NO LONGER VEGETARIAN AND HAS CHANGED NAME. NOW IT'S CALLED MADONNA NERA AND IS A BREWERY WITH MEAT DISHES, BURGERS AND SALADS.
Finally the sun came back to Venice. It didn't last that long, but at least it shone for almost an entire day, warming a little bit up the atmosphere and giving us the brief illusion that winter is over. Personally, I am so looking forward to summer and hotter days that I was hoping I could stop wearing my wool scarf and hat, but I suppose it's still early for that...
Anyway, as soon as Vito and I saw that beautiful sunshine we looked at each other and said "Lido". We were missing the sight of the sea and, also, we both needed a break; he has no day off until the end of March (since mid February... poor guy!), while I am following a few very different -and challenging- projects, which are really interesting but that require me to be fully focused most of the time. Thus, a walk on the Lido's shore was definitely going to help us chill out and detach for a couple of hours!
We took the vaporetto linea 1 from san Zaccaria and, once arrived on the Lido, we crossed the Gran Viale and went straight to the beach. We entered from the BlueMoon (that quite disagreeable structure built some years ago which, in the initial project, was meant to include a walkway over the sea but, as you can see, the walkway actually stops just before the water begins...) and turned left, going towards the beach of San Nicoletto.
By the way, did I ever tell you that I'm called Nicoletta because I was born in this area? Mum wanted to call me Ashleen, but dad taught it wasn't going to work if I was going to live and study in Venice, so he suggested Nicole... but, because his first wife was from Belgium, my mother had no intention whatsoever to give me a French name. So, Nicoletta it was! I was born inside the Ospedale al Mare, famous for its rehabilitating waters, but now mostly abandoned and degraded ...
Anyway, the San Nicolò beach is very quiet. It's different from Alberoni (the free beach located on the other end of the island), in fact, it's flatter, with no or very few dunes and of darker shades of green and brown. It's a different sort of wilderness that still manages to calm my spirit, with the sea and the lighthouse on one side and a protected pine wood on the other. From spring to late September, renting a bike and cycling all the way to the lighthouse is something I strongly recommend you to consider! While a walk along the shore is an activity suited all year round, with the exclusion of the so-called giorni della merla (literally, days of the blackbird), the coldest of the year. Once you exit the beach, you can reach Piazzale Ravà, where all the kiosks are, or visit the San Nicolò church, in front of which the Sposalizio del Mare (the Marriage of the Sea ceremony) used to take place. Nowadays, on such occasion, which coincides with the Festa della Sensa, the city's major (let's not talk about this one, thank you) and the Patriarch board the Bucintoro ship and throw a ring in the lagoon.
To go back to the centre of the Lido, you can walk/cycle along the lungo laguna and enjoy the beautiful view of Venice. From the far end of the island, you will be able to see the Sant'Andrea Fort, where until some time ago there were the "lagunari" (the section of the army that had the function of protecting the lagoon), while now you can see the old protective structures of the fortress. Fascinating! I am planning to dedicate a full post on the Fortresses around Venice, so stay tuned because there will be more coming soon!
We still had two hours of freedom, so we decided to stop on the island and have lunch at our friend's place: BioSound System, the vegan and vegetarian restaurant I go to at least once a month! I had already written a post on this lovely and super friendly eatery (read article), so I may be repetitive, but I really like it! The atmosphere is warm, the people nice and understanding and the food good. Everything is organic, the veg is the same one I get for home (from the Vignole!) and the Bengalese chef is a spice wizard. The way he balances the different spices never fails to -positively- surprise me.
We shared a chickpea humus that impressed us because, while I make it more garlicky and lemony (in a Mediterranean way), this man used paprika and turmeric... wow! So different from mine and so tasty! Then Vito had homemade gnocchi with a basil and walnut pesto which were absolutely delicious and, with regard to my main, it was a mouthwatering carrot, leek and ginger soup. So good, nice and velvety and -again- the amount of ginger was just perfect! We were so relaxed and would have liked to prolong our time there that we even ate a dessert, a vegan chocolate and vanilla cake... Y U M M Y !!!!
This is the type of day that truly makes me happy: sunshine, Vito and myself in a good mood not arguing over nothing, the sea, the lagoon, some deliciously healthy food and friendly faces. If Vito hadn't had to work and we could have gone to the cinema, well it would have been perfect. But, you know... perfection is boring! Or, at least, let's pretend so, a sad consolation for having to work as a dog!
I went home to finish a presentation for a course I'm holding this week called "The psychology behind restaurant menus"-hey, this was fun!- and go on with some computer work, but if you have time I suggest to either stay on the Lido or hop on a vaporetto, get off at Sant' Elena and proceed walking all along Riva dei Sette martiri and degli Schiavoni then and breathe in all the beauty you can!
So, don't listen to whoever tells you that the Lido is boring, because it isn't! Take your time, explore the island and enjoy a nice sunny day between the waters of the sea and the ones of the lagoon. Just relax and experience a moment of peaceful and tranquil everyday life in the Venetian lagoon!
Talk to you soon ;-)