Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cheap Eats Near San Marco

From ANSA news:

Venice 'pilgrim restaurant' opens
New eatery driving prices down around St Mark's

(ANSA) - Venice, January 30 - A new 'restaurant for pilgrims' is driving Venice prices down by offering cheap, quality lunches to visitors to St Mark's Basilica.

The eatery, which advertises three-course lunches for a tidy 13 euros ($17), has yet to open but has already caused a flutter around the famously pricey square.

Three days before it threw its doors open to the public on Monday, reporters had already spotted ''new, competitive'' menus on sandwich boards in the area.

The La Basilica restaurant is run by a local catering company, SGS, on behalf of the St Mark's Procurators, the board that manages the famed Byzantine cathedral.

Since the Procurators are a non-profit outfit, SGS has been able to come up with a large menu for the lowest of costs, catering firm chief chief Augusto Piscella said.

''I was amazed,'' he said at the restaurant's unveiling Thursday night.

''Since all we have to do is break even, we can afford a choice of eight first courses, seven second courses and six side-dishes''.

''The Procurators' aim is to give a medium-high class meal to all those who visit the Basilica, expressing the Venetian Church's desire to welcome people''.

I took the photo in November 2008. It's not the best photo, but it was a nice November day and we had been sitting in San Marco, drinking expensive coffee and watching the crowds--worth the price of admission!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Venice Online -- Discounts, Too

Venice to start online bookings
Tourism will be more sustainable, officials say

(ANSA) - Venice, January 21 - Venice is set to open an online booking service that will give tourists discounts if they plan their holidays in advance.

The system will help keep flows into the often overrun lagoon city manageable, officials say.

From Sunday, February 1, visitors will be able to book tickets at the Correr Museum and the Ducal Palace as well as city-edge parking space and bus and vaporetto rides.

At the website,, they'll be able to choose from 'green' days (city virtually empty), 'blue' days (medium full) and 'red' days (crowded), Deputy Mayor Michele Vianello told a press conference.

''This is a major step in making tourism in Venice more sustainable,'' he said, calling the colour coded system ''a thermometer of sustainability''.

''Tourists will be able to create their own holiday package including hotels, public services and tickets for museums and other events. And they can pay for this at one time after which they will be given an entry password''.

The city council will also throw in a free ticket to the city's famed casino and a free wi-fi connection along with its three-day packages.

On green days, a typical three-day package for two people will cost 209.30 euros online compared to 247 if paid after arrival - a saving of 31.70 euros.

Blue packages offer savings of 31.10 euros while three red days will cost 20.10 less online, Vianello said. The new system has allowed the city to ditch plans to impose entry quotas or charge high-season entry fees, Vianello said.

For now only two city-owned museums are included but talks are going ahead to add the city's array of state-run sites as well as its churches, led by St Mark's Basilica. In the wake of recent hotel wellies-and-all discounts to lure back tourists put off by pictures of St Mark's under water, the city is also putting up a video entitled Venice, A Livable City Even With Acqua Alta.

I took the photo in May 2007. Unfortunately, the statues are gone,but the feelings remain.