Thursday, March 31, 2011

Welcome to Venice

One of the most beautiful cities in the world, lies at the head of the Adriatic Sea in the salt water Laguna Veneta. Resplendent with graceful palaces and churches, the city is built on 118 small islands and laced with a unique network of canals and bridges. In St. Mark's Square bells chime, violins play, shoppers stroll, lovers embrace, and visitors take it all in over cappuccino in a congenial cafe.

The city of Venice has always considered itself to be "married" to the sea. Overseas commerce and investment made the metropolis wealthy and powerful, and much of the city's unique charm comes from the reduced noise and slower pace of life along the canals. But don't be deceived; the Venetians are second to none in their astuteness, vigor and capacity for hard work. Venice was founded originally by refugees from the mainland seeking a safe haven from the Huns, then later from the Franks between the 5th- and 8th-centuries.

Today Venice spans 118 islands, with a well planned web of 150 canals and 400 bridges. Although the motorboat, or vaporetto, is well accepted today, the gondola is the more traditional means of transportation.

the local transport system for Venice are the vaporettos. There are numerous landing stages and ticket booths along the Grand Canal and around the Venetian Lagoon. Local currency will be needed to purchase tickets for the vaporettos.

Venice offers a dazzling array of shops and window displays. You'll find good buys in: Glass Famous Murano glassware Jewelry Beauitful pieces in all varieties; finely crafted gold and silver Fashion Rich leather goods and fine silk scarves, shawls, blouses and ties. Lace Handmade by the women of Burano Distinctive gifts Paper-mache theatrical and carnival masks; velvet gondolier slippers with rope soles; and gondolier straw hats with colored bands. The best places to shop are along with Merceria, around the Rialto and on the Strada Nuova.

Banks: most banks are open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 1:30pm

Museums: Hours and closing days vary greatly, but most are open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 1pm. Some reopen in the afternoon and are open Sunday as well.

Shops: Usually open from 9am to 1pm and from 4 to 7:30pm and are closed Sunday and Monday morning. Many tourist oriented shops, however are open all day, every day.

Post Office: the main branch at Rialto Bridge is open Monday through Saturday from 8:15am to 4:30pm.

Pasta e fagoli - Classic first course of thick bean soup with pasta

Risotto - A creamy rice dish cooked with vegetables or shellfish

Bigoli - A local favorite, this pasta is made of whole wheat and usually served with a salty tonno or tuna sauce; its often an accompaniment to fegato alla veneziana, Venetian style liver and onions.

Tiramisu - A heavenly venetian dessert made of creamy cheese, coffee and chocolate with pound cake

Drink specialties: Venice is a great place for wine tasting. Visit some of the citys many wine shops, where you can enjoy a sample along with cichetti, assorted tidbits which are often a meal in themselves.

White Wine - Tocai and Pinot from the Friuli region, both dry; Prosecco, a naturally fermented sparkling wine; and Cartizze, considered by many to be a superior  Prosecco

Red Wine - Merlot, Cabernet, Raboso and Refosco. It is always recommended that you drink bottled water while in port.

suggested tipping is 10 percent for good service

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