I’ve heard Venice being described as the Audrey Hepburn of Italian cities, and I have to agree with them. I remember the first time I visited, nearly 3 years ago (my first time in Italy in fact) one cold winters day, and being absolutely struck by the timeless beauty of it all.
It embodies the essence of why I love Italy, the classical life living side by side with a modern energy.
In an update to this post, I went to Venice on Saturday. It was hot and crowded, I much prefer to visit in the cooler months. My previous 2 visits were in December and February. But, having said that, the city was as beautiful as ever, and shone in a different hue to the winter Venice under the striking August sun.
The difference in this visit was that I drove there.
I’ve taken a water taxi from the airport on my first visit. Expensive, but well worth the wow factor of arriving by boat, especially since it was my first time visiting, and not bad value for money if there’s a few of you to share the cost. From Marco Polo airport you can book a private water taxi at the Consorzio Motoscafi Venezia desk in the Arrivals Hall. There’s a fairly lengthy walk (750m), or so it feels if you’re carrying heavy cases! But by the time you’ve walked it, your taxi should be waiting for you.
Alternatively you can take bus number 5 from the airport, which I did on my second visit. It is a ‘local’ bus though and seemed to me to take quite a long time.
But back to driving to Venice. Since Venice is car free, the closest you can get is just over the bridge (Ponte Della Libertà), actually on the very outskirts of Venice. The biggest garage in Venice is Autorimessa Comunale ASM on the right before you reach Piazzale Roma. The day rate here is 30€.
There are a couple of others in that area, of similar prices. But what I chose to do (being the penny pinching Northerner that I am) was to park just outside Venice is Mestre. I parked at Mestre – Stazione Parking (Parcheggio Gregory) in front of Mestre train station (put Mestre train station into your sat nav and you’ll spot it easily. Then you can pick your option of getting to Venice. Bus number 2, a coach, tram or train. This car park was 14€ for the day.
Besides the incredible architecture, the waterways and gondolas, for me, the best thing about Venice is the spaghetti vongole. As well as vongole featuring in my list of all time favourite Italian words, it’s just mouthwatering delicious, yet utterly simple.
If you can manage to find good quality, fresh clams, give it a whirl:
Soften a clove of garlic in a pan with some good quality olive oil, then add 250g of clams per person and cover and steam for a few minutes until they open – be careful not to keep them on the heat too long or they’ll lose their juicy tenderness. De-shell half and retain the liquid that was released during steaming.
Put your spaghetti (100g per person) on to boil and finely chop some fresh parsley. Heat up some more oil in a separate pan with another clove of garlic, the parsley, and pour in some of the liquid you saved. Once the pasta is half cooked, toss together and continue to cook.
As easy as that! Buon appetito!