\Yep, you better believe it – even in the land of all things gelato, pasta and pizza you can find gluten and dairy free options pretty much relatively available!
I recently spent two awe-inspiring nights in Venezia and it is so worth the trip. Is there LOADS to see and do? No, not really but is it one to tick off the bucket list? Definitely!
I have been dying to visit Venice for years and if rising sea waters weren’t enough to convince you (before it disappears!!) maybe the 40 million plus tourists per year can!
I felt two nights here was plenty for me as I’m an early-riser and like to spend the day exploring on foot.. or in this case on foot, gondolas and water taxis!
So down to the good stuff.. What did I do, what did I see & most importantly what did I EAT!
Arriving into Marco Polo airport you can grab a bus to board a ferry from the mainland to the main Venice area. Bus is by far the best option here, cheap and easy to use and taxis only have set rates. Once at the mainland you can buy a ticket for the water taxi (boat) and head for your destination. I stayed in a cheap and cheerful hostel called Bed & Venice just around the corner from the San Zacchaire water taxi stop. From here you are five minutes stroll from St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace – two of the city’s main attractions. This is ideal for getting there early and beating long queues as Venice can become extremely crowded and depending what line you take the water taxis can be really time consuming getting from one area to another.
The breakfast at the hostel leaves a huge amount to be desired (cornflakes and croissants only) for those eating like me but there is loads of cafés on the main street outside serving American style breakfasts. I decided instead to nip into Co-op supermarket and it turned out to be an absolute gem! I picked up dairy free Nutella, gluten & wheat free bread rolls, raspberries, bananas & rice milk and made myself a picnic on a nearby park bench – delizioso!
For the most part of my two days I spent them wandering and taking in all the sights and scenes. There is beautiful coloured houses, gondolas passing under the bridges you walk across, gift shops (and some fab clothes shops), coffee houses and outdoor markets as well as beautiful churches, palaces, squares, museums and monuments!
Taking a long ride on the water taxi is advisable to get a good look at the entire island.
All the walking around will be sure to build an appetite too and for lunch on my first day I ate at All’Aquilla restaurant near the train station. They have gluten free pizza and pasta on their menu as well as free wifi – and you can never go wrong with free wifi!
I chose the sea breem with potatoes and vegetables (all baked together in olive oil and herbs) and it was divine. Light but lip-lickingly tasty! Do expect to wait though if you arrive at lunch time like I did as they clearly prepare orders fresh and there was only one waiter running the show out front. Also another catch to be wary of is the menus often list prices per 100g however typical serving is 400g so be careful and don’t get caught paying €32 instead of €8 like me!! For as good as it was I didn’t expect or want to spend that much on a light lunch!
Later that evening I met my tour guide (a Venetian herself) from Urban Adventures and a group of 12 of us set off on a wine and cichetti – Italian tapas – walking tour. Including in this tour is a short gondola ride to cross the Grand Canal, 5 glasses of wine & 5 tapas as well as lots of fun and info along the way. They catered really really well for everyone on the tour – myself with gluten free request (one cichetti bar we visited is a fully approved gluten free kitchen and our tour guide was also gluten intolerant so proved really useful in guiding me what I could/couldn’t eat) as well as any preferences for/against certain foods/wine types. Book this tour in advance as it sells out quickly.
Next day, after a small homemade breakfast at the hostel I set off in search of more hidden cichetti bars, fascinated by the ones I was shown last night! They tend to be off the main streets and range in price from 0.50c-€3. I had small plates of squid, octopus salad, potatoes with herbs, polenta cake with fish and onions, tomatoes with herbs and eggplant to name a few.
But the best spot I found was a gelateria SuSo selling vegan ice-cream and gluten free cones! I had two scoops – rice milk with cherries and a dark chocolate and they were the-bomb.com!
Venice is a beautiful and fascinating city to spend just strolling about. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten track as there are so many alleys and small streets worth exploring. I stumbled upon some nice museums, galleries and picture-perfect scenes by doing this and you get a much more authentic feel for the city. Here is a snapshot of some those moments.