Justin and I just returned from a wonderful Italian Holiday to celebrate my birthday.  We started out, just the two of us, in Venice and then met up with the rest of my family in the Amalfi Coast.  I can’t wait to tell you about the entire trip but let’s start with my favorite things to do in Venice!  I collected tips and advice on Venice from a few friends including the amazing Jan Showers who heads there annually to work on her fabulous lamp collection.

 Day 1
After a charming water taxi ride from the airport to the hotel, we checked into the wonderful Hotel Londra Palace.  We requested a room with a terrace and it was certainly worth the extra cost.  Our view of the city is above! The location was wonderful – close to shopping and San Marco Square – and the staff was incredible.
Start your trip with a gondola ride through the city.  We loved seeing the city this way and it is as romantic and charming and you imagine!  There are several spots around the city where you can start and we found one on a back street with a singing gondolier.  Take a photo or two and then sit back and enjoy the ride! You will need cash (half an hour runs 80E).  
I love this shot from Grey Magazine showing a pendant from Attilio Codognato.
Whether you are in the market for a new bauble or not, a visit to Attilio Codognato is a must when in Venice.  Four generations of gentlemen have been designing and presenting the rarest and most extraordinary jewels.  We had a blast trying on these exquisite bracelets, necklaces and rings and hearing the stories behind the gems.
We wandered to our lunch reservation at Grand Canal Restaurant

Hotel Monaco Grand Canal, a recommendation from Jan  Showers that didn’t disappoint.  It was the first of many meals of pasta for me as I can’t eat seafood!  Our view from our table on the terrace is the image I used to open this post!  It was the wonderful and exactly what I expected from Venice. 

After lunch we decided to walk off our pasta-induced calorie overload.  We wandered toward the Ponte dell’Accademia bridge and crossed over to the other side.  Our first stop was for some Venetian Slippers.

With soles made of old bicycle tires and tops of colorful velvet, Venetian Furlane Slippers, or Gondolier slippers are both trending and comfortable.  They are a must-have souvenir from a visit to Venice!  The advice I got was to select a size that is “snug” because, over time, they mold to your feet.  I have to admit that I left with more than one pair and even bought a pair for my three year old!  There are stores everywhere but we enjoyed a stop at Pied-a-Terre.

With our new shoe purchases made, we stopped for a quick coffee and then wandered through the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.  Located in her dramatic one-story Villa, the art is beautifully arranged and the scenes of the rooms and art as she lived with them really make you feel at home.

Venice is the kind of city you want to get lost in.  When we let ourselves wander down side streets, we always found our favorite surprises.

We stopped on the steps of Santa Maria della Salute and enjoyed some live music being played outside and waited for the ferry.  It was one of the best parts of the day!  People were gathering around to listen and there was a calm and serene feeling in the air.
Back at the Hotel Londra Palace, we dressed for dinner but took our concierge’s challenge before we left.  He was positive that we would prefer the Bellinis at the hotel over those served at Harry’s Bar!  They were invented at Harry’s Bar so I couldn’t imagine he was right but he was!  Dinner was still amazing thought…I can’t decide if I liked my food or the people watching better!  It is certainly a must in Venice! 
Day 2

We started our second day refreshed and ready with a beautiful buffet breakfast at the hotel.  I loved having my coffee under the row of Venetian chandeliers!

A small section of the windows in the Murano Glass Factory.
A water taxi picked us up and took us to Murano where we toured a glass factory and wandered in and out of the little shops.  The large factories were impressive but I really loved finding shop keepers hard at work on their own small projects while waiting for customers.  Click here for a great article about buying Murano glass.

After wandering and shopping in Murano, we took the Ferry to Burano, a nearby island famous for it’s colorful buildings and it’s lace.  La Perla seems to have the best reputation for it’s hand-made lace so we went there first.  Of course, after admiring the work of a charming lady making lace right in front of me, I found a beautiful dressing gown that I just had to take home.  It is important to ask to see the hand made pieces as the shop is filled with both machine and hand made items.
We almost skipped our lunch reservation in Burano because it was a bit out of the way but I’m so glad we stuck to it.  It was the best meal we had on the trip and people were waiting for hours for a table! If you are headed that way, please make yourself a reservation at Trattoria al Gatto Nero! 
Loved the colorful building’s in Burano!
We loved our day in Murano and Burano but we were exhausted!  We had a water-taxi take us back to our hotel and we relaxed on our terrace for a little bit before wandering to dinner.  Our reservation was at Cip’s Club at the Hotel Cipriani.  I stayed at the Cipriani twenty years ago so it really brought back memories!  To reach the hotel, you have to take a boat from the Cipriani stand in San Marco Square.  It was a lovely evening on the floating terrace restaurant and the service was outstanding!  I certainly recommend it!

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