Italian Trip Stage One: Venice

At last, my family and I have made it to Italy, the trip of a lifetime. Granted, there were a few hiccups: our limo’s AC died and its transmission almost followed suit, my boarding pass wouldn’t scan at the airport, my brand new luggage lost a wheel en route, and we all got lost trying to find our hotel in Venice. But the important thing is that we made it.

In hindsight, Venice is a gorgeous city to get lost in. It is a city unlike any I have ever seen. There are almost no roads, no cars, no subways, no buses. Instead there are miles and miles of canals with gondolas and water taxis to traverse them. Stone bridges arch over the blue waters, the largest and most famous being the Rialto Bridge. Even if Venice weren’t so unique, the city is still a wonder to look at. Its buildings have an old world charm about them: from the churches with their sculpted angels to the gothic facades, aging though still full of life and character.

Oh, and did I mention the food? I probably didn’t need to. It is Italy after all. Pizza, pasta, wine. Italy does it all. But Venice in particular is known for its seafood. To travel to Venice and not try its seafood is a crime of the highest order.

Having this in mind, I ordered all seafood for my first Italian dinner at a restaurant called Trattoria Al Gazzettino. Like many restaurants in Venice, this was a quaint place off an unassuming alleyway. I began with fish tartare, a meal of raw fish caught fresh from the sea, brightened up by a spritz of orange. Next I dug my face into a pairing of salted cod and cuddle fish cooked in its own ink, separated by a helping of creamy polenta.

All of that was scrumptious. But even better was the service. Having finished our meals, my family and I planned to waddle back to our hotel with a full and satisfied belly. The owner wouldn’t allow it just yet. He brought out complimentary shots of grappa for all of us. Next came strawberry wine, also complimentary. Then the owner gave us a slice of tiramisu and lemon cake (complimentary of course), which he begged us to try. After all, his wife made it herself. Filled to the brim, we thought we were finally in the clear. No. The owner brought out a thick, lemon beverage spiked with grappa. Maybe it was all the alcohol I had, but the final drink was unreal.

I don’t know if we got special treatment because we were a larger group or because the owner expected us to leave a good review on Trip Advisor. Either way, it felt as though our luck had finally come full circle.

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