Friday, March 28, 2014

Avventure Bellissime launches new Tours Italy website.

The first time I visited Venice, I took a tour with Monica from Avventure Bellissime. We still have very fond memories of the day we spend visiting vineyards in Friuli (I still have a tiny bit of the 1984 grappa I took home with me).

Since then we have taken many tours with Avventure Bellissime and have always had a wonderful time--and I learned something new about Venice or explored an area not open to most.

It's nice to see that they are now offering their services throughout Italy and have a new website, Tours Italy. Congratulations to Monica and Jonathan. If you're visiting Venice--or elsewhere in Italy--check out their tours (and they didn't pay me to say this!)

 The photo is one I took of Ca' Giulia, one of my favorite places to stay in Venice.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Almost on my way to Venice!

I can't believe it's four years since I've been to Venice. My excitement is building. We leave in two weeks to attend the opening of the Biennale (more on that later). I'm wondering if the real Venice will be stronger than my memories of Venice. Is it real or imagined? You'll have to wait to find out! \

This photo is one that I took from the top of the Accademia bridge. It's my favorite and I'm looking forward to once again standing there and looking at the traffic on the Grand Canal.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bridge Cafe in NYC needs your help

Every so often, events outside of Venice demand our attention. Back in the day when we were all still innocent, the Bridge Cafe in NYC was the site of many a happy lunch, drinks or dinner. Many, many fond memories. Now, the Bridge Cafe needs our help. This is from their website:
Bridge Café is the oldest continuously serving bar & restaurant in NYC, since 1794.  On October 29, 2012 Sandy put us under, literally! Three feet of water in the dining room, four feet in the kitchen, and our basement was filled to the top. The building, New York City’s oldest commercial wood frame, needs 85% of its wood support in the basement replaced; in addition all of our mechanicals were destroyed. We are in need of new ovens, stoves, all refrigeration, and all electric, new floors in dining room and in the kitchen. Unfortunately, we are located in flood zone A, no insurance!

There are very fair loans, but more over-head will truly put us in danger of a permanent close. All of this work will cost about three hundred to four hundred thousand dollars.

Please contribute to help save this landmark restaurant that never disappointed. (The photo is from the Bridge Cafe website)

View AvventureBellissime tours before you sign up

Over the years, I have taken many a delightful tour with AvventureBellissime. Each one has introduced me to a part of Venice that I might never have discovered on my own. Recently they have updated their website and added a great feature. You can go to their YouTube channel ( and see a brief video of their tours. A great way to spend a day when you're dreaming about being in Venice!

This photo is from a private Venice Secret Gardens walking tour. Highly recommended!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Harry's Bar in Danger of Closing

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye and made me feel sad. Harry's Bar is, "Drowning in debt, struggling with a decline in American patrons and battling to cut labor costs, Harry's Bar—inventor of the Prosecco-and-peach purée cocktail known as the Bellini—has turned to a distressed-debt fund to revive its business."

I have some fond memories of Harry's. The first time we went, we were shown to the stairs to the upstairs dining room. As we climbed the stairs, we heard feet running on another staircase. When we arrived at the top, our slightly out of breath host was waiting for us. He'd run up the back stairs!

Another time, we were sitting near a table of an American family. Mom, Dad, a teenaged son and a pre-teen son. The men were all wearing khaki pants, navy blue blazers and blue shirts. In the middle of the meal, they started to argue about something. They were very proper. No raised voices. No scene. But we could tell they were fighting. The teenager got red in the face; he clenched his fists and his eyes were wild. Then, the fight went out of him and the meal resumed.

Harry's always provided us with great people watching. One time an older gentleman came in with a much younger and very attractive woman. What I would call an "uncle" out with his "niece." She was swaddled from head to toe in a gray wrap. They sat and talked. He ordered wine. It came and the woman must have approved of the choice because she excused herself to go to the restroom. When she returned, the wrap was gone revealing a short cocktail dress....

We  used to enjoy our dinners at Harry's, but prices went up and the service and food declined. We don't go to Harry's any more, but have fond memories. It would be a shame if it closed. Click here to read the article.

The photo is not mine. I got it from Harry's Bar website. I suggest reading Harry's Bar: The Life and Times of the Legendary Venice Landmark.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Buon anno

Happy New Year to everyone! May 2013 bring us all many opportunities to visit Venice. I'm starting the new year off right--I booked tickets for a May/June trip to Venice. Much more to follow on that...... Thanks to an Amazon gift card from my sister, I am reading a great history of Venice called Venice: A New History> by Thomas F. Madden. I don't know how many histories of Venice I have read, but Madden's book is special. From the opening words of the first chapter, I was hooked:
"No one forgets a first glimpse of Venice. Whether arriving by plane, boat, train, or car, there is that startling moment when one looks across the waves and finds what should not be there—stone towers, rich churches, and packed buildings rising up out of the sea. The extraordinary beauty of Venice only adds to its improbability. How does such a city exist? Who were the people who built it and why did they think it worth such unyielding efforts?"
The writing is excellent and entertaining. Madden really makes the history come alive. The author's page on says, "Thomas F. Madden is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University. He has appeared in such venues as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The History Channel." P.S. I don't know Madden and didn't receive any compensation for this post. I am simply enjoying this book and wanted to tell you about it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Venice continues to amaze me--some things are still weird. From

Venice poet fined for selling writings on the street Poems confiscated 19 September, 14:49

Venice poet fined for selling writings on the street (ANSA) - Venice, September 19 - Police in Venice have charged a poet and confiscated his writings for selling them on the streets. Antonio Melis faces a fine of up to 60 euros for setting up a folding table and asking for money in exchange for his verse written on rolled-up scrolls of paper. "He's not being charged for the sale itself," said Marco Agostini, the director general of the Venice municipality. "It's because he was on public ground. If (the charges) concerned the actual sale, it would be a matter of vending without a permit, which carries a fine of at least 5,000 euros". Agostini said Melis should be held accountable to the same rules as street artisans, such as landscape painters common around all Italian art attractions who must have a permit. Agostini added that the street bard was using his poetry "as a way to beg for money".
I can't believe it's been so long since I updated my blog. Venice has been in my mind--if not on my pages. I will work on updates and be back shortly! Please come back and see what's new.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Funeral for Venice to be Held on November 14

From the Voice of America News:
Declining Venice Population Leads to City's 'Funeral'

27 October 2009

A group in Italy's canal city, Venice, is planning to hold a "funeral" for their hometown, which is rapidly losing its permanent residents. The group says the city is being drained of its normal life.

Venetians have been concerned about the declining population of the canal city for decades. The population stood at more than 145,000 in 1960. Thirty years later, it had dropped to about 78,000.  Now it has hit an all time low, dipping below the 60,000 mark.

Many residents are concerned and feel something needs to be done about this steady demographic decline. They say the population is getting older, the buildings are in a state of degradation, and more and more shops are being opened for the millions of tourists that visit the city.

But they say the traditions and crafts of the canal city are fast disappearing.

Mario Secchi says he was born in Venice, his dad and grand dad were Venetians, but he was forced to emigrate to the mainland because the rents were too high in the historic center.

His son, Matteo Secchi, a local businessman who runs a hotel, is one of the organizers of the upcoming funeral for the city. On November 14, a group of Venetians will carry a coffin symbolizing the death of the city down the Grand Canal in a procession of three boats and anyone else who wants to join in.

Matteo Secchi says the high property prices and rental costs are forcing ordinary residents to leave the city.

"Venice is under attack from the business," he said. "The rich people think they are at the stock exchange with the houses of Venice. For example they buy at 100 an empty house and they sell after 5 years at 150, like the stock exchange. Venice stock exchange."

Secchi and his friends are also responsible for a population counter that has been placed in the shop-window of a pharmacy in the city center.

Doctor Andrea Morelli explains why he decided to host the counter in the shop.

The doctor says it was installed in March 2008. He decided to do this out of his love for the city of Venice and because he thought it was important to put on display the real decline of the population, to raise public awareness.

The more pessimistic Venetian residents say the countdown has begun and that if the exodus continues at this rhythm, in 2030 Venice will have become a ghost city with no more citizens, just hordes of tourists. Today 18 million tourists visit Venice every year, but in 20 years this number risks doubling.

Send photos if you attend!

It's time to order the new olive oil!

I just received my Casa de Case newsletter and, now that my order has been placed, I want to let you know that they are now accepting orders for olio nuovo. (Olio nuovo is bottled directly as it comes from the spigot when crushe.) As their newsletter says the olive oil's "intense fresh fruit taste that makes it so special." Casa de Case is one of the only sources in the United States of true Italian olio nuovo -- and I love it.