We travel a lot here at The Women’s Room, both with the day job and because we like it, so it seems sensible to pass on our travel tips to you. Admittedly most of our travelling revolves around fashion-y cities, but since we have spent years doing this sort of visit, we’re pretty good at it and probably share your tolerance levels over stuff like service (we walk if it’s rubbish), hygiene (it’s got to be clean, it’s a no-brainer) and value for money (we’re mums, we know how much stuff costs). We know some good places to shop (obviously), to stay and (very importantly) to eat.
So here is the first of our potted guides, we’re starting with Venice because we’ve just been, visiting the Art Biennale, which was very inspiring and well worth the trip. If you have never been and you have time on you hands, we’d recommend it.
Where to stay: Pensione Accadamia, on the Dosoduro. We’ve been trying to get into this small but brilliantly positioned pensione for years but it’s always booked up. However, tourist numbers are down in Venice quite dramatically this year and so we got in. Simple and basic but just lovely, we stayed in room 43, which overlooks a quiet canal just off the Grand Canal (which you can see from the giant picture window) and cost us 149 euros a night..Service is charming, breakfast always includes a big variety of nice fruit (we always over eat in Venice so need healthy breakfasts) and it has a big garden (almost unheard of in Venice) for those very hot afternoons. Pensione Accademia
Where to eat :Trattoria Alla Madonna. There are so many good restaurants but our favourite was a tip from Woman’s Room reader Sue, who suggested Madonna, on Calle Della Madonna near the Rialto bridge. You can’t book, so get there before 1.00pm for lunch and eat fish, spider crab is a specialty. It’s stuffed full of locals and after two glasses of house white you will be talking Italian with a Venitian accent. Closed Wed.
Where to shop: sadly Venice shops are mostly rubbish, packed full of tourist tat that relies heavily on Murano glass, gondolas and cheesey oil paintings. Also due to the fact that the shops sell mostly to tourists everything is very expensive. If you have to buy something, search out the glove shops that offer pairs in every colour, but remember they will be pricey. Murano glass, made on the nearby island of Murano is world famous for its quality but you really have to work hard to find anything that is not stuck in a 70s time warp style wise. We bought six glasses which are gorgeous, from Giordani in Calle delle Rasse, for 20 euros each (after very hard bargaining). We have been buying a few with each visit to the city and can confidently say they are tough enough to use every day and cope with shots of espresso as well as being the perfect size for a weekday glass of white wine. Murano glass
What to do: The art Biennale is really engaging and should easily fill up two to three days. You get to go inside some beautiflul old villas and churches not normally open to the public which for us is half the fun.
Venice Biennale of Art, June 7-November 22,
Don't: go in August as it is very hot and full to the brim with visitors, although this July was quieter due to the global downturn, so maybe this August might be better than most. Personally we wouldn't be seen dead on a gondola, although the best way to approach Venice is by either water taxi (100 euros but you will remember it for ever) or waterbus (much cheaper but it takes an hour).