First stop in Italy is Venice. The world famous city of canals and cathedrals, we get off an 8 hour train ride and find ourselves surrounded by hundreds of map-wielding, suitcase-wheeling tourists. This is definitely going to be a city that could go either way…follow the crowds, or avoid them.
As much as we could, we chose to opt for the latter.
Having said that, it’s obvious why thousands upon thousands flock here from all over the world every summer. The place is freaking beautiful. Mismatched buildings range from narrow, rotting, sinking houses to the mind-blowing detail of the Dogue in Piazza San Marco.
And honestly, who doesn’t like being on a boat?
After navigating our way through the tiny alleyways and bridge-hopping over (honestly, pretty stinky) canals, we drop our bags in our minuscule apartment, don some linen and hit the town.
First stop is an aperitivo, the best bit about dinner in Italian summer. A cold, usually bitter, alcoholic drink with a few complimentary snacks. We find a relatively empty place by the river and settle in with an Aperol Spritz (the first of many), and a ‘Hugo’ – prosecco, gin and lots of fresh mint.
Snacking on nuts, olives and potato chips whilst watching Italian ladies yell at pigeons, we’re super happy.
Venice, amongst many other amazing things, is the home of the carpaccio, the bellini…and risotto. I’ve googled ‘best risotto in Venice’ and am unbelievably keen to get some rice in me.
We find one of the recommended restaurants close by and sit down.
They don’t have risotto.
BUT they’ve got spaghetti with vongole (clams) and bottarga (salted, dried mullet roe). It’s one of my favourite things ever and I’m the happiest man on the planet. We have a bit of a honeymoon night. Local cold white wine (Soave – give it a try) and amazing, handmade, al dente pasta followed by another Venetian classic, Tiramisu.
The bill is expensive but we’re only here for 2 days and we’re in love so that’s fine.
Day 2 starts with us paying exorbitant amounts for 4 coffees and a couple of sandwiches (we will learn to avoid cafes in squares anywhere near a tourist attraction).
I’ve heard about a restaurant called ‘Trattoria alla Maddalena’ on a nearby island called Mazzorbo. It’s meant to be the best seafood around, and we honestly can’t wait to get out of the crowds of Venice. We get an obligatory photo or two with the canals and churches then hop on a ferry for the hour-long trip. Not particularly comfortable but super pretty.
Mazzorbo is awesome – one of those seaside towns where all the houses are a different colour. Alla Maddalena is right on the water and I have a table reserved with 2 glasses of prosecco waiting…you’ve got to milk this honeymoon thing as much as possible.
Prosciutto and melon to start, another bottle of Soave, then the risotto. Holy goodness this risotto. Advertised as a seafood risotto, it’s pretty much a ‘risotto bianco’ – just white rice – finished with the most amazing local seafood stock and a bit of butter. It oozes, it drifts around the bowl. It is salty, creamy and not fishy at all. Ally hates fish and LOVES this risotto. It’s way too big and I finish the whole thing.
We finish off with simply grilled local fish (really good but hard to top that risotto) and a ‘tagliata’ – grilled, sliced steak. 2 coffees and we’re back on the boat.
We round out our trip in Venice by sitting in a bar with about 10 other English football fans, drinking beer and shouting at the telly. We won. Take that, Portugal.
Next stop: Liguria.
Visit the restaurants we did:
Trattoria Alla Maddalena