From Christiane Deiters, April 2009
“During the last week in March, I decided to play “local” for seven days in Italy. With the help of Indagare, I rented an apartment in Venice. It’s owned by La Calcina, which is also called Ruskin’s House, for the 19th-century art critic. Today, the pensione still asks guests who have published a book to kindly leave a copy in their bookcase: there’s quite a collection at this point. I rented apartment Rosa, a wonderful place where you have all the amenities of a hotel but the privacy and feeling of a real home. The apartment is close to the main pensione: you cross a little bridge, walk along a small canal and then through 100 meters of a very, very narrow passageway. I loved the sense that I was just another local living in Venice.
Some of my favorite highlights of the trip:
- The first morning, when I left to have breakfast at La Calcina, I found a group of people clustered at the end of the one-way passage between my apartment and the hotel. There was the mailman and the garbage collector, a gentleman who did his best to keep more people from entering the narrow walkway, and an old woman on crutches who was slowly making her way down to the canal. She was walking with care—and clearly some pain—waiting for her husband to clear the way. It took a couple of minutes for her to arrive by the water, but everybody was respectful and pretended to have all the time in the world. When I passed, they all looked at me—the stranger, in town on her first morning—but a hearty buon giorno did the trick. This same scene took place every day of my stay and by the end of the week, the group greeted me with a friendly buon giorno signora. I felt like I had truly become part of the neighborhood.
- My second favorite moment happened in a small restaurant. On Indagare, I found the recommendation for Antiche Carampane. I made a reservation for the end of the week for when my husband joined me and our lunch at Antiche was outstanding. Inspired by visits of the Rialto Fish Market, we had lots of seafood, including gazpacho and pasta with a sword fish sauce. The restaurant was founded in 1982 by the son of a fish whole seller. Today, the original owner’s sister and her son Francesco run it. When I asked Francesco, if he is the owner, he looked at me and said “Me and my mother.” He said this with such joy and pride. It was very moving. Mama came by the table often to check on us and provide extra sauce (secret recipe, of course) where appropriate. One really felt at home in this small place.
- At Antiche Carampane, we discovered that the restaurant was part of an association called Ristoranti della Buona Accoglienza Venezia. Basically, it’s a loose association of restaurants dedicated to local, seasonal and sustainable food. You can pick up a brochure that lists them all at any of the restaurants, like Antiche. We found another fantastic spot called Riviera (Dorsoduro 1473, Zattere), just a 10 minute stroll along the Giudecca Canal from La Calcina. I wish, we could have explored more of the 14 places of the association. But our apartment was fully equipped to feed a crowd of maybe eight, so we had to prepare at least one meal there, which we did.
- On our last evening we went to La Teatro Malibran (San Bartolomeo, San Marco; 39-041-2424) for a concert. Afterwards, the city decided to treat us to fierce rain and high water at night. All over, elevated wooden planks were being put up, as the rising tides pushed the water even higher. The vaporetti were filled to capacity with people from the concerts, shoppers, locals and tourists. The boat we ended up taking carried well over 250 people…it was rocking seriously side to side during most of the ride, which felt like a real adventure. But everybody was in good spirits and bonded over this rainy situation. I would not have wanted to miss it for the world.
Read Indagare’s destination report on Venice
Read hotelier Francesa Bortolotto Possati on Venice’s acqua alta