If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that we like to visit our favourite European cities in the quieter times of the year, during school term time and often during the colder months. If you are able to travel during these times – and you don’t mind some winter weather – you will discover a very different side to these beautiful and historical cities. In my first post about Venice, here, I talked about how it is perfectly possible to wander the canals and bridges without encountering crowds (and sometimes find yourself completely alone at night!). You just need to know the best times to travel and where to stay.
This month, my partner chose his Birthday weekend to visit Venice again (we needed an excuse to go back as we were having withdrawal symptoms 😆). This trip was all about relaxing, taking strolls around the city, and dining in fantastic restaurants. Of course with some Opera thrown in!
Read on to discover some more of my recommendations for this spectacular city..
In my first post, mentioned above, you can find details on travelling from the airport by water taxi, and our usual hotel, the Boscolo Venezia (part of the Marriott Autograph Collection). We stayed here again and, as ever, we were not disappointed! The hotel enjoys an incredibly quiet location, close to the Church of Madonna dell’Orto, and separated from the main thoroughfares by at least 3 pretty canals.
Our lovely Venetian-style room @ the Boscolo
The staff at the hotel are always of the standard you would expect at this level – courteous, friendly and professional. They respect privacy and create a luxurious and tranquil environment for relaxation.
My only issue this time was around the room temperature. I forgot that in the winter the hotel completely turns off the air conditioning, so you can’t control it yourself. Normally, this would be ok as I would have the windows open, but we discovered that having only had the windows open for a short time, we had let in an army of mosquitoes (which like to munch on my other half – they don’t like me so much!). So, given the location on the canals and having these uninvited insect guests hanging around, I think it would be good to have the option of climate control.
Everything else about the stay was first class as usual.
A view of the city before landing, and one of my favourite parts of the trip, making like a Bond Girl in the water taxi 🙂
Where we dined
Ristorante Quadri, piazza San Marco (“Alajmo takes Venice”)
This was our first visit to this Michelin Starred restaurant (the only full restaurant located on St Mark’s Square), part of the Alajmo family restaurant group.
From the moment we arrived, the welcome and service was some of the best we have experienced. We were seated at an excellent table with a beautiful view of the Square. The interior of the restaurant is extremely opulent, with red flocked fabric walls contrasting with exposed brickwork, dark wood, and huge sculptural Murano glass chandeliers, creating a warm and intimate ambience.
The menu has different tasting options, which are more flexible than in some other Michelin restaurants, so can be slightly tailored for each diner. I chose the 5 course Quadri menu, and they happily substituted one of the courses for another main (I chose the mackerel instead of the lamb). I’ve linked the menu here
We chose to have the wine pairings with the tasting menu, which were all inventive and complemented each course perfectly.
Little to large; the wine pairing glasses. We also went home with a set of the striped water glasses (their glassware is available to purchase in the shop downstairs)
Overall, highly recommended for a decadent Michelin dining experience in Venice, with perfectly balanced and interesting dishes, and first class service. We will be returning!
We also visited the Gran Caffe Quadri (downstairs from the main restaurant) the next day, for a pot of tea and a snack. Not fancying the queue to get into Florians, we popped in here instead, and actually preferred it. It’s quieter and smaller, still with an impressive history and elegant decor. Recommended for afternoon tea or a cocktail as you watch the world go by on St Mark’s Square.
Not to be missed! Bistrot de Venise, Calle dei Fabbri, 4685
I mentioned this restaurant in my first post on Venice, and this time we made sure to visit again, as it’s become one of our favourite experiences in the city. We usually dine here after seeing an opera performance, as its the perfect cosy setting to enjoy a late dinner.
we arrived at 11pm, and our favourite corner table overlooking the canal had been reserved 😊. Despite the late hour, the welcome was as warm as usual, and we had excellent service throughout. By midnight the chefs were starting to close the kitchen, so we were politely asked if we would be having dessert, in which case they would make themselves available! We never felt as though we were being rushed at all, though I’m sure the staff must have wanted to get home!
In my view, this is one of the most relaxing places in the city. I could sit in my little corner for hours with the delicious food & wine, and soft violin music playing.
The stuffed ravioli is delicious, based on a 14th century Venetian recipe, and the sea bass was one of the best I’ve had.
We had an interesting bottle of Wildbacher Tenuta Col Sandago, 2003, and also purchased two more bottles to stash in our suitcase! You can buy wines from the Bistrot either in person or online in their shop here. They have an extensive list of rare wines which is well worth a look!
Osteria Enoteca San Marco, Frezzeria, San Marco 1610
We happened upon this Osteria early on a dark and wet Monday evening, looking for a casual dinner. We must have walked past it many times, but this time we decided it looked like a nice option.
Although it’s slap bang in the middle of the tourist area, we were pleasantly surprised by the welcoming ambience and the whole experience. We had some fantastic thick spaghetti with cheese & pepper as a first course (a version of one of my favourite Roman dishes), then I had the monkfish with spinach and lobster caramel. It was all delicious, and it was a perfect relaxing dinner.
I’d recommend this restaurant for a casual lunch or dinner after sightseeing or shopping. We will definitely go back.
Also worth a mention for a casual pizza or pasta lunch…
Don’t miss…secret Opera at the Musica a Palazzo
The opera performers and orchestra move around the beautiful rooms of the palace with each act, and the audience moves with them. There is a short break for a glass of bubbly after the first act : ) As the audience size is small, it creates an intimate and interactive experience, which for me adds to the emotive experience of the opera
I hope this has given you some more inspiration for your next (or first!) trip to this magical city. Don’t forget to check out my other Venice posts for more information and recommendations (you can find them using my contents list).
As ever, I would love to hear your views or comments on this or other posts on my site. To be automatically informed of new posts, please follow me using the buttons below. You can also follow my Instagram and Twitter feed to see what other adventures I’m up to!
Next travels include a final trip to Rome for the year, and some Christmassy adventures in the UK, including the Manor House at Castle Combe.. 😀
Ciao for now!