Our Hotel for the next two nights would be the Claudia Augusta. It wasn’t in Treviso exactly – actually, it wasn’t really in anyplace unless you consider a field someplace. It was however the best hotel experience of the trip.
|Fireplace at the Claudia Augusta|
If you are going to Venice (and you have a car) I highly recommend the Claudia. It is affordable, very nice, quiet and the staff is fantastic. Then there is the supper option… but I’ll get to that in a bit.
We arrived at the hotel a bit early so we did some much needed laundry and then decided to check out Treviso. The lady who worked the desk at the hotel (she could be the owner because she was there all the time) gave us a few places to eat in Treviso and one in the town neighbouring the hotel.
Treviso was nice enough – canals, pretty architecture, lots of shops. But it was inexplicably, ridiculously crowded. We thought perhaps it was some sort of holiday (it was Sunday night after all) but hotel lady had no idea either. Regardless the streets were packed.
We wandered around trying to find any of the restaurants that hotel lady recommended. We had no luck. Or, depending how you look at it, we had great luck.
We had great luck because we gave up and decided to go to the restaurant near the hotel, Al Sile Trattoria. We were told to ask for Nicola, the owner, and he would take care of us. Boy did he.
|Produce Boat (my favorite of my Mom’s Venice Shots)|
Al Sile has no written menu – whatever is fresh that day and the chef feels like cooking is what you have. That’s not to say you don’t have a choice – it’s nearly impossible to choose because everything sounds so damn good. Let me try to recall exactly what we had:
• Andrew and I started with Tuna Carpaccio
• Mom and Dad started with zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese (I think they were a little concerned about this but they ended up really liking it)
• We then had Tuna Steaks in Balsamic Dressing (delish)
• There was a lemon sorbet that Dad wanted a gallon of
• Dessert for Mom and Andrew was Tiramisu
• I had a raspberry mousse and Dad had lemon mouse
• Nicola also brought us a Polenta dessert that was out of this world.
We left stuffed and happy and assured Nicola we would be back the following night.
|The requisite gondola shot|
The next morning we set out for Venice via train. Taking the train in a new place can always be a little daunting, especially if you don’t speak the language. Andrew managed to figure out the ticket machines and we caught the correct train. It was crowded but a pretty short trip to the Venice station.
I guess I have to preface this part by explaining how I feel about Venice. In theory I like it. It is beautiful and unique, there is some stunning architecture and seeing life conducted entirely on the canals is really amazing. I don’t love Venice though; I’m not drawn to it as I am other cities.
I think this mostly has to do with the two occasions I’ve been there: the first time was August and it was bloody hot; this time it was cold and raining most of the day. Both times (and I would imagine all of the time) it’s been crowded – very crowded.
|Venetian Canal Scene|
None the less, I enjoyed Venice, especially when we first arrived. We wandered rather aimlessly (read: kinda lost) through the alleyways, far from the touristy areas. As I mentioned, it is fascinating to see everything conducted on boats; construction, emergency patrols, shopping, everything.
We finally found our way to Piazza San Marco and decided we had to eat before hitting the sights. In typical ‘you win some, you lose some’ fashion, we managed to find the worst pizza place I have ever been. Our first clue should have been the staff – they were entirely Asian – servers, cooks, everyone. Now I’m not saying that Asian’s can’t make pizza, I’m sure there are some fine Asian pizza chefs – they just didn’t work here. I would have rather eaten frozen microwave pizza (scratch that – I would have rather eaten the pizza box).
After ‘lunch’ we visited the Doge’s Palace and walked across the bridge of sighs (so called because it was the last view of the outside world that prisoners saw before being jailed or executed.) The Palace is ornate in the extreme and is well worth a visit.
|Piazza San Marco from the tower|
Then we popped into St. Mark’s Cathedral for a quick look before closing. This is truly a magnificent church. We then crossed the street and headed up into the tower for a view of the Grand Canal. By this time it was raining hard and we were wet and chilly so it was time to head back to the train.
As promised we went back to see Nicola about supper. This time we decided on pasta which was a fantastic choice (mine had shrimp and a spicy sauce). We started with a polenta and cheese appetizer. Dad and I had the lemon mousse and Mom and Andrew had the polenta dessert. We had fantastic local wines both nights and Nicola presented us with a print of the Sile River that his Trattoria was named for. If you are ever in the area, go and tell me all about what you ate.