Ever since I was a little girl I dreamt of visiting Italy, not least because I’d been told it was a beautiful place, but I’ve always loved Italian food. Though I have no recollection of any life at 4 months old I’m also assured by my parents that I was once dubbed as ‘bellissimo’ by the locals in Sorrento, so you can see why a future escape to Italy might have been on the cards. This month I made that longing a reality and whilst the Amalfi coast is still on my list , I began my own odyssey in ‘the floating city’.
Darkness had already befallen the city as we came in to lad over the sea of lights and so we immediately ventured to find a water taxi and sped off across the Adriatic to alight on the romantic waterfront riva, where our hotel was mere steps from our stop.
We dined late that night in the wine-bar downstairs and enjoyed a rather swish culinary experience, in great company. Then it was off to sleep, ready for a full itinerary the next day. We woke at a reasonable time, but were sadly left disappointed by the breakfast spread, despite this we set off on an adventure through the back-streets in an attempt to find the most peculiar and inviting bookshop.
Libreria Acqua Alta offers an Aladdin’s cave of books, posters, novellas and literary knick-knacks and holds a life-size gondola awash with treasured texts. They also have a few feline friends that contently roam the premises, much to my delight, but the true appeal lies at the back of the store in the yard. Here you’ll find host of aged titles, stacked to structure a staircase with a view.
Having combined my two favourite interests we set off again, trinkets in hand to find the Ponte di Rialto. Navigating our way through the bustling central streets we found ourselves on the steps of the iconic landmark and captured an image of the widespread view. Reverting from the crowds we sampled cheap mulled wine and and wandered through an open ,market by the edge of the canal. The vibe here was quite different from the open restaurants by by the pristine waters, instead seagulls circled, devouring spilt fish guts from the fishmonger’s crates.
Keen for a change of scene we entered the great majesty of Basilica di San Marco in St Mark’s Square and quietly reflected below the decorative ceilings and hand-crafted glass nativity scene aglow. This led neatly through to the elongated corridors of the plaza, where we took a seat in Cafe Florian, founded in 1720, i.e. one of the world’s oldest cafes. It was an other worldly experience, as white-coat waiters served our coffee on a silver platter, with the regal interior offering open views out over the square.
Fuelled up sweet treats we jumped on a water taxi and made off to Murano, a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon and famed for it’s beautiful hand-blown glass; found in every shape and colour. We arrived just in time to catch the sunset and witnessed the most beautiful watercolour of rainbow houses shadowed against the orange sky, San Marco a silhouette across the water.
Black ink consumed the sky once more and we completed our day with dinner in a traditional pizzeria, getting merry on wine in high spirits. It was a lovely meal in even better company and it felt a bit like a scene out of a movie. There was just enough time for a quick drink in the Hard Rock before hitting the hotel for some much needed rest.
Though it proved a whirlwind 24 hours, I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of Italy, I have a feeling I might be back, but perhaps I’ll visit the ruins in Rome, or laze by the shore in Sardinia. The trip also concludes my travelling for this year, and what a wonderful year it’s been in terms of new adventures. I’ve already a couple of plans lined up for 2019, but for now the only flight I’m boarding is homeward bound.