In 2005, I did a day trip to Venice while in the middle of a three week backpacking excursion through Europe. It rained, and I felt completely alone and stranded. I have wanted to revisit this glorious city since then, but as Venice is one of the most expensive cities in Italy, my wallet has protested heavily. Venice is one of our summer seasonal flights, and in terms of trip desirability, it has a tendency to go quite senior. As I was required to pick up an additional trip as a scheduling conflicted forced me to drop one, I put in for one for a miniature “dream vacation” layover.
After I showered, power napped, and prepared for my evening of adventures. I hopped over to the market to pick up some snacks, breakfast, and some wine to take home. One of my favorite things about visiting a foreign country is listening to the locals speak their native language. It can blur past me, sweep over me, or wash over me slowly, but without fail, it inevitably makes me want to carve out an extra hour in the day to learn yet another language. In this case, re-learn a language.
I am fairly certain my Rome Program Director from my senior year of university is probably sneezing into his expresso somewhere as I am coming clean. While I loved learning Italian, once I started studying Japanese, I started out with mixing languages before Japanese starting displacing my command of Italian. Of course, five minutes in the streets of Venice, and I am ready to make a beeline to the closest book store for new text books. When asked which way to go to the first stop of the evening, Gina, our Italian speaker, simply smiled and said, “let’s go get lost,” before turning down a side street. I like her style!
We enjoyed the happy hour drink specials and a Rod Stewart concert broadcast at Bacaro Jazz. While I have enjoyed a Bellini or two back home in the US, I credit the atmosphere and the use of Italian Prosecco for an additional kiss of authenticity. Our bartender was a lovely lady who was very curious and welcoming. They have very reasonable two-for-one Happy Hour Special, so I sipped casually on not one but two lovely Bellinis.
I’ll have to bring an extra bra next time!
I do not know precisely how all the bras fit into the design scheme, but I will be sure to pack one to leave behind next time. The bras are from around the world along with lots of the art tacked on the wall. A little tacky, yes, but it is a little bit of fun. (Note: guests are neither requested to give their underclothes or required to. Donations are made by personal preference.
Grazie mille, Gina!
Our dinner reservation was at a quintessentially Italian restaurant tucked away along one of the smaller side canals. With balcony windows overlooking the passing gondolas, Trattoria Sempione was truly a cinematic dining experience. Our table was positioned along the railing, framed with flower boxes and climbing trellises and several candles. Gina and I took the seats that were extended out over the canal. As the gondolas passed by, we were greeted with warm smiles and rolling “Buona Seras” from the lovely gondaliers.
Our reserved table overlooking the canal!
As the rest of our dining party filed in, we ordered the house wine and started in on the menu. I kept things simple with the risotto and the panna cotta for desert, keeping in mind my limited budget. While Sempione is a gorgeous establishment, it was a touch higher on the scale than I was prepared for. Thankfully, my crew took into account my inability to partake in the dishes involving shellfish, or they would be returning to Atlanta one crew member lighter. While I enjoyed the ambiance and the quality of the food, it will most likely not become a regular stop should I visit Venice again.
While being an ocean away, there is something about Italy that feels like home. In summer 2000, I lived in Rome for six weeks, but it felt like it was a blink of an eye, not fourteen years ago. I thought about the girl I was then, and the woman I am now. I sincerely wish I could write a letter, reassuring her that she was on track to make life decisions that would not be easy, but would shape her into one heck of a unique lady. More importantly, that it will be different from everyone else, but that is the key to my sweet life.
Layover Date: July 28, 2014