Here are ten of my favorite things to do in Venice. My wife and I are big time glass lovers and small time collectors, so if you share that passion be sure to go to Murano and visit the shops mentioned.
Go to Murano and visit Franco Schivon and Murano Collection. These two shops don’t have demonstrations of how to make a horse out of glass. They actually have great pieces of art.
Murano Collection is a joint venture between Carlo Moretti, Vennini and Boro and Tesovier. It offers well selected pieces and is very dramatically lighted. We have shipped many pieces from there to the US with no problems. They handle the VAT refunds shipping and insurance.
Schiavon has a Japanese glass master, Tsuchida Yasuhiko, who makes one of a kind pieces. His work varies from the dramatic to the derivative. He is still young and you can see his development in his art.
These two shops are much different from the multitudes of shops on the island. Get of the vaporetto at La Colonna. Franco Schiavon is on the left along the canal at Fondamenta Vetrai 15, and Murano Collection is across the canal at the first bridge. This area has the best concentration of really nice shops with really collectable art glass, not the schlocky Asian made stuff so common. Beware of your wallet however, not because of pick pockets but because art glass ain’t cheap.
Pricing: Schiavon and Murano collection — if you have to ask you can’t afford it. Museum quality pieces (limited runs of 100 or less signed by the artist) start at over $1000 but there are pieces in the hundreds of dollar range that are still really wonderful. Looking is free.
See the Carpaccio’s at Scuole di San Georgio del Schiavoni. Incredible paintings on the themes of St. George and the dragon and St. Jerome. Stunning!
Pricing: Under $2.00.
Go to Erberia Rialto and visit the art gallery and studio of Nicola Tenderini and buy a water color or oil painting from him. It won’t set you back much and the painting hanging on your wall will recall Venice for years to come. His technique captures the glint of the sun reflecting off the water. Sometimes I am startled by the motion in his paintings as I sit doing something else. Nicola is at Campo Bella Vienna – Erberia S.Polo 216. Monday through Saturday mornings only. By the way, the bar to the left as you face his shop is superb. Great panini and cappuccino. Note that the locals never pay; the son just writes down a cryptic symbol in his notebook.
Pricing: Nicola’s pieces are under $100 right now because he is an undiscovered genius. The bar is super cheap.
Go to Torcello and see the original Cathedral of the Lagoon. There are two amazing churches there. Wonderfully desolate island loaded with cats.
Pricing: Cost of a Vaporetto ride unless you lunch at Cipriani which I have not done yet. That may set you back $100 or more a person. There is another trattoria on Torcello which is more reasonable but I don’t know how good it is. Looks nice.
Wander the back streets of Cannareggio. Once away from the touristy areas around the Rialto you come into quiet neighborhoods where you get a totally different feel of Venice. We found a sunken gondola around one corner. See the ghetto and take the synagogue tour.
Pricing: Wandering the neighborhoods is free; the tour of the Ghetto is 6 euro or so.
Visit the Ca D’Oro. This is a wonderful museum with its own Vaporetto stop. It was not very crowded and was filled with wonderful objects including affreschi that used to be on some of the grand palazzi on the Grand Canal.
Pricing: Huge bargain, free or just a few euro.
Go to Do Mori and eat and drink.
Pricing: Cheap if you drink cheap (maybe $10 – $20 a person for a light meal of cichetti) but there are wines at around $10.00 a glass that retail for $50 to $70 a bottle in the US.
Go to Da Pinto for incredibly fresh fish at very reasonable prices. Drink Doro Princic wines and eat very good cichetti. Do not in any circumstances eat the pasta or pizza but do order the baccal mantecano (salt cod roughly pureed with olive oil and parsley).
Pricing: Da Pinto will run about $45.00 for two antipasti, a platter of grilled fish for 2, a bottle of Doro Princic.
Go to the Pescaria Rialto at 6 in the morning and see the fish market being set up.
Go to Campo S. Zaccaria and visit the gallery of Missiaja, a former architect who now is an artist. He specializes in the Commedia dell’Arte characters and a few Venice scenes. He uses some computer generated techniques along with hand applied color to hand made paper for his limited editions, and he uses more traditional printmaking as well. Achiugetta at Campo SS Giacomo e Fillipo is nearby so you can raise a glass and consume cichetti while you contemplate your purchase.
Pricing: Free if you just look, $10 for a small print or a box of note cards on handmade paper, $300-$400 for medium and small hand painted items, more for larger ones.