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Venice was a great place to go, but I highly recommend spending two nights MAX there. Ideally one night and about half a day is plenty to see the entirety of Venice. It's an amazing city to see, but you could cover all of the neighborhoods (excluding the islands) in about a day. The museums are not the best and you will find yourself retracing your steps (it's literally a labyrinth).
I recommend arriving in Venice late afternoon and walking around for a bit just getting familiar with your surroundings, then having dinner. Your second day could be spent seeing the fish markets in the morning, then walking through the neighborhoods on your way to lunch. After a bite to eat you could make your way to Piazza San Marco and buy a ticket to see the Doge's Palace. The Doge's palace museum is a very well designed self-guided museum (great for those of you who hate guided tours). You are able to walk through the palace and also walk over the bridge of sighs into the prison across the canal. It was by far the best money spent on attractions in Venice. Lastly, you could end your day with a great meal near the train station and then get the hell out of there.
I'm only half joking... Venice was wonderful to see, but I went when it wasn't seriously smelly and off season, and I was still more than ready to see any other part of Italy.
But for those of you who are dying to see the city of love, I have a list of the best places for you to eat while there (because food is love).
Below you can find the best places I ate in Venice.
Caffé del Doge
If you're anything like me and need a good shot of espresso to get on with your day, this is the place for you! What makes this little place such a gem is that it's literally a dime a dozen. I struggled to find any non-touristy overpriced cafes, but this was definitely one of them.
This was a great place to grab a light lunch and glass of wine. I will admit if you don't speak Italian it can be a bit intimidating, but once you watch about ten people order, you can order by just pointing at what you want.
Basically this place is a small bar where you can get cicchetti. Cicchetti are small appetizers typically consisting of a slice of bread with toppings on it. The topping can be meat, cheese, veggies, or fish (sort of a mini open face sandwich). This is a classic venetian snack/lunch and bars like this are scattered throughout Venice.
This place was located in the touristy part of Venice but is nice and secluded down a side street. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the service was amazing. Our waiter gave us the best wine suggestion just off the top of his head (something that I appreciate a lot considering I am the most oblivious wine connoisseur ever).
What to order:
- Cheese board (we got two it was so good)
- Sea bass
- Octopus (this was one of the best dishes of the entire trip)
What to skip:
- Gnocchi (it was fine but you might as well order two octopuses)
- Veggie sticks and meat (was honestly so pissed about this dish. It was 17 euro for sticks of celery and carrots, some slices of salami and olive oil and vinegar. It had no place on the menu.)
Osteria Al Cicheto
Located near the Venezia Santa Lucia train station, this little restaurant is tucked down a small side street. From the main walking path you can see its red awning and lit lantern hanging. The little place was as venetian as it gets. When you first walk in, there is a podium-like counter filled with Cichetti, meats, and cheeses (also fine with wine). There are about three or four high-tops and then three tables located in a small room towards the back of the place. The service was not the fastest but considering it was only one waitress it was good.
What to order:
- Cheese board (to start and end with)
- Beef tartar
- Goat cheese salad
- Pumpkin soufflé (Excuse my french but this was so fucking delicious. It was denser than a traditional soufflé but easily one of the best I've ever had.)
- Eggplant and tomato pasta
- Pork cheek (it was braised and unbelievably tender)
What to skip:
- Grilled tuna salad (This was still good but not as delicious as the rest of what we ordered.)