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Venice Revisited

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We all know that Venice is one of THE world’s great cities. It had been some 30+ years since I was last crisscrossing those iconic little bridges in wonder at how those gondoliers steer, let alone stand upright.

Wile the UK was enjoying the King’s Coronation, I had two nights in Venice with this the start of an Italian adventure travelling by train, via the mountains, lakes and ending in Bergamo.

Without wasting a moment it was time to get out and rediscover this wonderful city.

Venice Lido

I was staying on the island that is Venice Lido – just across from the the iconic San Marco Square. My little hotel was a throwback in time – the Hotel Riviera. Located perfectly, it was literally across the street from the water boats that would take me, with a 25 euro unlimited day ticket to the airport, the train station or to San Marco square – in fact anywhere I wanted – it could not have been easier.

Now I know some of you enjoy a little luxury, well let me be clear, this hotel is NOT for you. If however, you like a traditional old-fashioned Italian hotel where the ornate room keys are made from a lump of lead and the rooms themselves are reminiscent of Grandma’s sleeping quarters then this IS for you.

Marco on reception was a character – full of life, and fun and with a welcome smile as broad as a gondola! I asked him if he was the manager – he said “he was working on it”. I loved this hotel so for the two nights I was here, I recognised its limitations but embraced its style and authenticity. This was the Italy I remembered and loved!

Out and About

Outside my hotel was the end of the main promenade that crosses this narrow little island and takes you ten minutes by foot, to the beach. Arriving late as I did, I popped out to the Ristorante Gran Viale and immediately became all Italiano ordering a Nastro Azzurro and a Calzone Pizza (always my favourite) which turned out to be the size of one of those hideous garden trampolines.

It was however delicious, although as a Calzone aficionado, it was missing the egg…. is that like having pineapple on pizza?

Lido Beach

The next day, I was up early so, as is customary these days, I needed to maximise every minute of the day! I took that ten-minute walk to discover a long open deserted beach full of mainly private beach clubs that were closed for the season. It’s another ten-minute walk to get to the seashell-covered public “FREE” beach as it’s titled at the entrance.

One of my few gripes about Italian tourism is the desire to put a price on mother nature. Maybe the authorities could rake in some of the millions these private beach clubs earn to keep it clean and free of plastic and litter that would be a start. Sadly as much as I loved Venice Lido, the hotel and the pedestrian areas, the beach was scruffy with many buildings unsightly.

St Marks Square

Somewhat disappointed, I made my way back to the hotel and picked up my bag as it was time to rediscover the main attractions of this iconic city. Taking the decision to go to San Marco Square first and before 9:30am was a wise move as by 11am it was packed with tourists making the experience far from enjoyable. With the square albeit empty, it was sod’s law I should bump into another blogger travelling the world.

Actually, it was a godsend because I was about to buy a coffee for 10 euros! Efrem was from Sweden and was in town for a few days to grow his impressive Instagram and Pexels accounts. This nice guy warned me of the perils of leaving my WIFI on as scammers are now targeting your mobile virtually as opposed to physically. We exchanged some blogger speak and admired each other’s cameras – this is what happens now in my world.

Mooching in Venice

Outside the very swish Luna Hotel Baglioni was a cracking people-watching corner. Immaculately dressed couples sporting designer handbags and polished shoes, were leaving the hotel and jumping into pre-ordered gondolas. I spent fifteen minutes just watching, before being told off by a rather overweight and grouchy Gondolier for putting my unpolished shoes on the already grubby Gondola Waiting Chair.

A good friend had recommended that I should visit the Bacaro Jazz Bar…. Not for the music or indeed for the ambience but for the fine selection of Bra’s hanging from the ceiling. It’s been some time since I have seen a bra hanging from the ceiling so I made light work of navigating my way to this smoking hot little establishment. Sadly it was closed… but I still managed to take a photo through the window. Hopefully, no one was watching.

Rather bizarrely just a few steps and a couple of turns later I came across a knockers shop – Door Knockers that is!

Rewinding The Clock

As I mentioned it was over 30 years ago I was last in Venice. I remembered the hotel I stayed at was just off San Marco Square, so I made a beeline to where I thought it was. Sure enough, I found it still operating under the same name – The 3* Hotel Panada. I wonder if in 30 years I will be going to the Hotel Riviera on Venice Lido…. If I am, I doubt anything will have changed and I will like that!

A further aimless ambling took me to a shop window where a lovely Asian girl was demonstrating her skills… in sewing. I don’t know why I stopped – as you can imagine at 54 years of age I have seen someone sewing before – just not in Venice. As I stopped she caught my eye and asked me my name – knowing foreigners often struggle with Rupert, I told her it was Roo. In an instant, she got to work and moments later presented me with a little personalised stitched gift of my name.

I love little gestures like this and listen – if you are ever in Venice and thinking of donating your old bra to the Bacaro Jazz Bar – don’t – as I know just the girl who can fix it!

Ponte dell’Accademia Bridge

I took lunch in the Nuova Valigia Restaurant and decided that having tackled a giant Calzone the night before I should sample the pasta. The mushroom and rosemary Tortellini was incredible – the only issue was on this occasion the portion was so tiny I could easily have eaten another three servings.

After lunch and a couple of public water taxi trips to see the Gondoliers Shop and the Rialto Market, I needed to kill a couple of hours before climbing up the Ponte dell’Accademia bridge for the sunset and that iconic view of the Grand Canal.

Killing a couple of hours means having a beer, so I found the Ristorante Dallo Zio Cafe/Bar and was minding my own business when a guy in the US military and his Mum walked in from Detroit in the US. I ended up having three pints and a discussion on the state of American and UK politics, the decline of the Motor industry in Detroit, the Packard factory, the race riots of 1967 and how we find the Finnish prime minister really attractive.

After some American style high five Arrivederci’s, I was soon jostling for position on the Ponte dell’Accademia bridge. Alongside me was a Strawberry blonde from Scotland and an Asian lady who, on this occasion, I don’t believe was a seamstress. This iconic view had for some reason eluded me all those years ago. It was magnificent – as was Venice of course!

Taking It Easy…Italian Style

On my last day in Venice, I enjoyed a lazy day. Having extracted myself from my bed sheets and cover – no duvets in the Hotel Riviera – remember it was just like a sleepover at your Gran’s in 1974. I headed to the public Lido beach for a morning sunbathing and a lunchtime snack in the Coco Beach Cafe, which incidentally, delivered not only refreshing drinks and snacks at reasonable prices, but also some “Easy Listening Italian Tunes” from the 70’s – I was in heaven!

Before I had time to order myself a Cinzano, it was time to leave Venice Lido and indeed Venice itself – maybe for the last time in my life. We all know this place is somewhere very very special – Venice certainly delivered – I mean where else can you drink a cup of coffee for 10 euros while getting your bra mended!

While most of you back in the UK were enjoying the Coronation celebrations, it was time for me to hit the road….

Till next time


For more information on visiting Venice in Italy, contact the Italian Tourist Office or contact your local travel agent or tour operator.

All photos were taken by myself and should be credited if used to @justonefortheroad



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