Archive for the ‘Venice’ Category


Libreria Aqua Alta Entrance

Down one of the more typical walkways of Venice, in the heart of the Castello Sestieri (neighborhood), and in the shadow of the gorgeous Cathedral of San Giovanni e Paolo, is an unexpected treasure of Venice, the Bookstore of High Water (Libreria Aqua Alta). Please refer to the map link below for detailed location information.

Any self-respecting lover of books MUST visit, if only for the memorable curiosities contained within: a gondola (yes, a real gondola) full of books, room after room of volumes stacked, in most cases, to the ceiling, another small boat filled with hard and soft covers and, as a final treat, an outdoor set of stairs built from tomes that afford you a view of the canal behind the shop.


The Infamous 3-D Artwork

As you enter the store, be prepared for the friendly and outgoing owner, Luigi Frizzo, to greet you. Along with his pointing out a certain three dimensional painting of Venetian palazzi, showcased near the check out counter (right), one of any number of well fed cats may stare you down, might stretch and resettle or could even meow a hello.

I have visited this libreria numerous times over the years. Each visit, I wonder how Luigi keeps the bookstore, literally and figuratively, afloat.

When you are next in Venice, make sure you add a short easy break at the “High Water”. You will not be disappointed.

Calle Longa Santa Maria Formosa (Corte Senza Nome)

5176/B – Castello, 30122 Venice

Tel: +39 041 296 08 41

Daily Hours: 9:00AM – 8:00PM


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eurosThe fees began in 2011 in Venice and within one year city hotels in Rome, Florence, Milan and Naples had followed La Serenissima’s example. Now, nearly every city, town and village hotel, B&B and self catered accommodation in Italy charges these fees to guests. As of the date of this blog post, AirBNB property owners in Italy are fighting the requirement to collect these duties.

Over the course of many years of travel in Italy, there has never been anyone at any hotel who has been able to clearly tell me (1) why it has to be paid, (2) for what purposes are the taxes collected (3) who distributes the taxes and (4) where, physically, are they paid in each city or province.

Keep in mind, also, that most of these payments are collected in cash from guests at the time of check out.

Below is a table of the amount of taxes collected for most major cities by region in Italy, including Sardinia.

You would be wise to double check the web site for the places you will be visiting to confirm that these rates, current as of June 2016, are still correct.

Remember to keep these numbers in mind when you calculate the cost of a hotel stay in Italia!

 Region/City 5-star 4-star 3-star

B&B and

Self Catered

Lucca € 3 € 3 € 2.50 For a maximum of 3 nights
Florence € 5.50 € 4.50 € 3.50 € 2.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Cortona € 3 € 2 € 2 For a maximum of 4 nights
Siena € 5 € 2.50 € 2.50 € 1.50 For a maximum of 6 nights
Montepulciano € 5 € 2.50 € 2.50 € 1.50 For a maximum of 6 nights
San Gimignano € 3 € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Chianti €4 € 2.50 €1.50 €1.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Bardolino €2 €1.50 €1 For a maximum of 20 nights between 01/04 and 30/09
Sirmione € 2.50 € 1.80 € 1 Per night
Desenzano del Garda € 2 € 1 € 0.80 Per night
Peschiera del Garda € 2 € 1 € 0.80 For a maximum of 5 nights between 01/05 and 31/10
Venice € 5 € 4.50 € 3.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Verona € 3 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Valeggio sul Mincio € 1.50 € 1.50 € 0.80 Per night betwen 01/04 and 31/12
Padova € 3 € 3 € 2 For a maximum of 5 nights
Vicenza € 3 € 2.50 € 2.50 Per night
Positano €5 € 3 € 1.50 € 1.50 50% discount from the 4th night
Sorrento € 2 € 1.50 € 1 € 1 For a maximum of 7 nights
Ravello € 4 € 3 € 2 € 2 For a maximum of 6 nights
Praiano € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 € 1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Amalfi € 5 € 3 € 1.50 € 1.50 50% discount from the 4th night
Massa Lubrense € 2 € 1.50 € 1 € 1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Naples € 5 € 3 € 2 For a maximum of 10 nights
Ischia € 2 € 1.50 € 1 For a maximum of 7 nights
Rome € 7 € 6 € 4 For a maximum of 10 nights
Numana €1.50 €1 €0.50 Per night
Ascoli Piceno €1 €1 € 0.50 For a maximum of 6 nights
Matera € 2 € 2 €1 €1 For a maximum of 3 nights
Maratea €4 €2.50 €2 For a maximum of 5 nights
Ostuni € 2 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Lecce € 3 € 2 € 2 For a maximum of 5 nights
Fasano € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 3 nights between 01/05 to 30/06 and 01/09 to 31/10
Fasano €4 €2.50 €2 For a maximum of 5 nights between 01/07 and 31/08
Monopoli €2 €2 €1 For a maximum of 14 nights
Alberobello €1 €1 €1 For a maximum of 3 nights
Vieste €1 €1 €0.80 For maximum one night between 15/05 and 15/09
Otranto €2 €2 €1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights between 01/04 and 30/09
Milan € 5 € 4 € 3 Per night
Varenna € 1 € 1 Per night
Como €2.50 €2 Per night
Bellagio €2 €1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Emilia Romagna
Ravenna € 4 € 3 € 2 Per night
Bologna € 4 € 4 € 3 For a maximum of 5 nights
Perugia € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 10 nights
Orvieto € 2.50 € 2.30 For a maximum of 10 nights
Syracuse € 2.50 € 2 € 2 For a maximum of 4 nights
Catania € 2.50 € 1.50 € 1.50 € 1 For a maximum of 3 nights
Cefalu € 1 € 1 € 1 € 1 For a maximum of 10 nights
Aeolian islands € 1.50 One off charge
Modica € 2 € 1.50 € 1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Palermo € 3 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 4 nights
Taormina € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 10 nights
Alghero € 2 € 2 € 1 For a maximum of 7 nights
Villasimius € 2 € 2 € 1 Per night
Cannobio € 1.20 € 1.20 € 0.80 For a maximum of 7 nights
Arona € 3 € 2 € 1.50 Per night
Baveno and Stresa € 2.50 € 1.50 € 1 For a maximum of 7 nights
Verbania € 2.50 € 1.50 € 1 For a maximum of 15 nights
Turin € 5 € 3.70 € 2.80 For a maximum of 4 nights


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Camp San Giovanni e Paolo

Camp San Giovanni e Paolo

A walk to the east from the Fondamente Nove, brings visitors the Ospedale (Hospital) of Venice and the Cathedral of San Giovanni e Paolo. This is the spectacular pantheon of Venice. Twenty-five Doges, the political leaders of Venice, are buried and memorialized here. Directly next to the Church is the façade of the Renaissance School of Music, (Ex Scuola Musica di San Marco), todays city hospital.

The perfect location for your hotel while in Venice is the Locanda la Corte, located only a few moments’ walk from the Campo San Giovanni e Paolo. (See IF YOU GO below for more details).

From the Locanda, you can be in the large Campo Santa Maria Formosa, named for its late Renaissance church of the same name, in about three minutes. Unique among all the churches of the city, this one has two entrances, one Renaissance style of 1594 and one Baroque style of 1604.

If you continue toward St. Mark’s Square you will find one of the finest and most creative mask makers in Venice,

Il Canovaccio Masks Venice

Il Canovaccio Masks

. You will know it when you see it: two large glass windows display some of the most unusual masks, Venetian or not, in the world. This is a great place to explore the art of mask making at its finest.

Next, backtrack through Campo Santa Maria Formosa to the church of San Giovanni e Paolo, taking time to drop off your purchases at the Locanda la Corte. If you find yourself in need of lunch, that is after 12:30PM, ask at the Locanda for directions to the Osteria d’Alberto. This tiny and well known Osteria offers exceptional meals, fair prices and easy access.

After lunch? Head to Salva Rosa, located across the square from San Giovanni e e Paolo. This is one of the finest gelato shops in Italy. Next, head east along the Fondamente Laterano. Follow directional signs toward the Arsenale. You will also see signs for the Church of San Francesco della Vigna.  This was the first major church built in Venice following the movement of the population from the northern lagoon island of Torcello.

A few minutes’ walk beyond San Francesco brings you to the Fondamente, walkway, at the Arsenale, Venice’s world famous ship building yards. During the height of the Serenissima, warships were constructed in as little as a day in this complex of workshops and docks.

Walk south along the Arsenale walls and you will come to the Riva along the lagoon, the broad walkway that connects St. Mark’s Square with the Giardini, the garden of the city.

Giardini Promenade Venezia

Giardini Promenade Venezia

At the confluence of the Fondamente Arsenale and the Riva is the Naval Historical Museum of Venice (Museo Storico Navale). The museum is particularly of interest to those with a passion for the sea and the story of Venice’s rise as a naval power on the Mediterranean.

When you depart the museum, turn left and walk toward the garden.

The Giardini is the site of the Biennale in Venice, an international art exhibition. The gardens are a lovely place to stroll, enjoy some coffee at one of the local cafes and relax.

After a break, perhaps on a bench with a view across the lagoon, you can board a vaporetto and return to the San Zaccaria dock at St. Mark’s square before returning to your hotel for a break before dinner.

There are few restaurants in Venice that can match the combination of exceptional seafood, lagoon view and excellent service of Algiubagio. Located close to the Fondamente Nove dock on the north side of Castello, this is a restaurant you must not miss. Evening candlelight, sunset on the lagoon and freshly prepared meals conspire to create unforgettable memories.

Aligubagio Terrace Venezia

Aligubagio Terrace

A stroll across Castello provides a unique experience for those visiting the city – few crowds. This is a treasured neighborhood of Venice and I highly recommend enjoying a visit during your time in bella Venezia.


NOTE: If you are headed to Venice in 2013, 2015, etc, you are advised to make hotel reservations well in advance of your arrival. The visitors to the bi annual art exhibition aquickly fill many of the city’s hotels.

Locanda la Corte

Castello 6317 · 30122 Venice, Italy

Tel. +39.041.2411300

WEB: Locanda la Corte

A perfect base for explorations across Venice. The hotel is a five minute walk to either the Rialto or St. Mark’s Square, offers very clean, well-managed accommodation and a beautiful courtyard for breakfast or an afternoon aperitivo.

Church of San Giovanni e Paolo

WEB:   San Giovanni e Paolo

Hours: 08:30 – 18:30 daily

Vaporetto: Fondamente Nove or Rialto

My recommendation is to walk to the church before 8:00AM. The side door closest to the Locanda is open for early admission at no cost. The silence of the space is a quiet and reflective way to begin your days in Venice.

Il Canovaccio

Mask artists of Venice

Castello 5369/70 30122

tel. 041 52 10 393

WEB:   Il Canovaccio

Salva Rosa Gelato

Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, Castello

WEB:  Salva Rosa Gelato

Church of San Francesco della Vigna

WEB:  San Francesco della Vigna

Hours: Daily 8.00-12.30, 3.00-7.00
Vaporetto Celestia

Museo Storico Navale

Riva S. Biasio Castello, 2148 – 30122 Venezia

Tel. 041.2441.399

Hours: Monday to Friday 8:45AM – 13:30

Saturday:  8:45AM – 08.45 – 13:00

Sunday and Holidays: Closed

Entrance Tickets: Euro 1.50 per person

Algiubagio (reservations strongly recommended, particularly for outside/terrace tables)

Fondamenta Nuove, Sestiere Cannaregio, 5039  30121 Venice, Italy

+39 041 523 6084

WEB: Algiubagio

Information on the Biennale Art Exhibition

WEB:  Venezia Biennale

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An Evening at San Vidal

An Evening at San Vidal

It seems a simple thing, to draw a bow cross the strings of a cello. Yet, in Venice’s church of San Vidal the long low note reverberates, a deep tone that shakes the very foundation of the church, causes goosebumps and, often, tears.

A concert by Interpreti Veneziani has begun.

Every time I return to Venice, on either my first of second night in the city, I go to San Vidal. If the concert is sold out, I simply stand outside the church, within an enwrapping Venetian shadow, and listen to the music inhabit the air, the space around me. If I am lucky enough to find a ticket and seat in the church, it is then that the true magic happens.

On an evening in mid-October, I sat quietly as the lights dimmed. The spot lights on the performers brightened. The cellist for the group took center stage. The effect of his placing the bow on the strings of his instrument, then drawing the bow across one single string, brought tears to my eyes. It was as if time moved instantaneously back to the Renaissance and I was a ghost of some future, a spirit who sensed the mysterious effect of great music on the human soul.

Click on the link below and enjoy a movement from one of Vivaldi’s lesser known works, this from his Concerto per Archi in Do Maggiore.

1-03 Concerto per archi in Do maggio

If you are ever in Venice, GO. Concerts are performed nearly every night by the Interpreti Veneziani. Of the many options available to visitors for evening concerts in the city, I can only recommend this one. Enjoy. Experience. Feel.

Interpreti Veneziani


Interpreti Veneziani

San Marco, 2862 / B  30124 Venice, Italy

Tel: +

WEB: www.interpretiveveneziani.com

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Arriving on the island of Torcello, after the crowds and noise of Venice, is a wonder. The small water bus from the island of Burano,  leaves visitors at a recently restored dock. As you walk along the one navigable canal on the island, you begin to feel the years fade to the time of Venice’s founding. For over one thousand years, Torcello was the seat of the Bishop of Venice and, in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, are the remains of the patron saint of the island, Heliodorus.

The peace and quiet of the island has been disturbed in recent years to allow for the restoration of the fondamente (the walkway along the canal) and to facilitate the restoration of several restaurants and cafes. The Locanda Cipriani, owned by the same family of Venice’s famed Hotel Cipriani,  is an oasis of calm and exceptional service – the island’s only full service hotel. If your desire is for retreat and relaxation in a hotel little known by tourists, this is your place.

Along the way, visitors pass the Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) near the Osteria of the same name. This is a comfortable place for a cappuccino either before or after your visit to the cathedral.

Cathderal of Santa Maria Assunta Torcello

Final Judgement

What brings people to an island of only sixteen year round residents? The mosaics in the cathedral are among the most finely restored Byzantine art in the Mediterranean. The “Final Judgement” is breathtaking, and well worth the forty-five minute trip from the city of Venice. If you arrive early – before the cathedral opens at 10:00AM, you will experience a sense of history and mystery unlike most islands in the lagoon.

Early mornings are by far the best time to visit. Groups of pilgrims and tourists usually begin arriving around 10:30AM each day. If you are at the cathedral ticket office when it opens at 10:15AM, you will  enjoy your visit with little interruption from those crowds.

This is a treasure of a place and I highly recommend a visit while you are visiting bella Venezia.


Purchase an IMOB card for unlimited travel on the vaporetto network at any ACTV ticket window. These cards are available in varying time segments, from twenty four hours to one month. See www.actv.it/en/imob/imob for details.

For route maps of the Venice Water Bus and land system, go to ACTV.

To reach Torcello from the Fondamente Nove vaporetto dock:

Depart Fondamente Nove on the Number 12 line at 9:10AM

Arrive Burano at 9:52AM

Change water buses to the Torcello line – to your right as you exit the Number 12 vaporetto

Arrive Torcello at 10:00AM (The boat trip from Burano to Torcello takes four minutes)

Boats run every forty minutes between Torcello and Burano, the only public service available between those two islands.

Return services to Venice are available throughout the day from Burano to either St. Mark’s Square, Murano and other major locations in the city.

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I’ve just returned from Christmas Eve services at San Giorgio Maggiore, Palladio’s magnificent church on its island across from Piazza San Marco. A faded green and yellow vaporetto awaited our boarding. We departed into mist-veiled midnight.

Between points of solid land, in space marked by few reference points, we glided across the ebony fog-shrouded, mirror smooth, waters of the lagoon. The peace of the boat was interrupted only by an occasional splash of water against hull. Passengers were silent. Perhaps they, as did I, recalled images of candle illuminated frescos, the heady fragrance of smoky incense, transported by those memories, the mystical soul of this extraordinary night.

December Light, Venice

Lights glowed from harbor markers as we passed prism globes afloat in misted air, suspended above the coal dark sea.

As we approached the landing at San Zaccaria, fog-veiled lights on palazzi, hotels and the Ducal Palace came to view. Everyone leaving the vaporetto was offered a kind, quiet, “Buon Natale” (Merry Christmas) by the attendant. Softly muted voices responded as passengers dispersed into the early morning.

As I turned down a darkened lane near my rooms a small dog and cat appeared, walking side by side, seeming oblivious to both their differences and my footfall. As they reached the end of the lane, they sat at the edge of a narrow canal.  Billows of fog breathed passed behind their silhouettes. I stopped to watch, noting the time; thirty minutes past midnight on Christmas morning. An old story of Christmas Eve, a time when animals could talk with each other, came to mind.

I wondered what conversation was passing between them

As I turned yet another corner I pulled the scarf up more tightly around my throat, shrugged the coat against my shoulders and left those two friends behind.

For centuries the world has known Venice as a city of mystery and beauty. For me, none more so than the Christmas Eve I was privileged to see the magic of the arriving day rise in two animals, no more alike than earth and moon, as they welcomed in the gifts of Christmas Day

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Welcome to the world of Private Italy Tours LTD

The goal of our journeys is to expose travelers to the exceptional heart of this stunning country. Clients have time to explore and relax on their own; in Florence and the hill towns of Tuscany, afloat on the canals and lagoons in Venice, along the narrow streets of villages in Umbria, amidst the Roman ruins in and around Rome, while driving along the spectacular Amalfi Coast, or exploring the beautiful remains of Greek and Roman civilizations in Sicily.

Most importantly you will meet the people of Italy – the true heart of the country. We bring Italy to YOU!

We know you love Italy; come see it through our eyes.

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