Venezia, Venezia!

To drive across Texas from El Paso to Houston, it will take approximately 11 hours, with some change in topography and elevation (but not drastic).  So you can see why it was hard for me to believe that in just three hours in Italy, we drove drive from this:

Blinding snowstorm in a mountain pass

To this:

The canals of Venice

The kids were really excited about this leg of our trip, as they were trying to imagine a city with no cars or roads, a city whose position as a major trading power gave it the distinction of being the most prosperous city in Europe in the late 1300’s and early 1400’s.  I had been to Venice as a child, and now was returning with my own children.  Other than riding a gondola, what does one do with kids in Venice?  We had (almost) three full days with which to plan.  As it turns out, the highlights included attending a cooking class in a Venetian palazzo with Contessa Lelia Passi and taking a boat to the lagoon islands of Burano and Murano for shopping and glass blowing.

We met the Contessa on a blustery spring morning in the Rialto Market, located near the famous Rialto Bridge.  We spent some time perusing the fresh vegetable stalls and picking out ingredients for our lunch: capellini with fresh peas, braised baby artichokes, traditional Venetian skewered game, and strawberries with balsamic carmel .

While we didn’t buy any, I love the futuristic look of the Romanesco buds


White, green and purple asparagus
Me with a sad face in front of the horse butcher.  I have tried horse, but thankfully it was not included on our lunch menu
The view from Contessa Lelia’s palazzo was out of control
I was crazy about her collection of copper pots and spices


She gave the kids a lot of freedom to experiment with rolling pasta dough


Under her watchful eye, I have to boast…
…that the kids turned out some pretty fantastic capellini


Braising artichokes
Enjoying the fruits of our labor with the Contessa at her beautiful table

Located a short motorboat ride from Venice are the three islands of the Venetian Lagoon: Murano, Torcello and Burano.  We took the good part of a day to visit two out of three.  Murano is best known for its glassware shops and factories, a tradition that has been thriving since 1291.  Nearby Burano, famous for the production of fine lace, is a colorful fisherman’s island where we enjoyed a memorable meal at at local gem, Trattoria al Gatto Nero da Ruggero.

Murano is linked by a series of bridges


Glass blowing in a Murano glass factory


Chandelier madness


Contessa Lelia’s stunning antique Murano chandelier


Detail of the flowers
The charming leaning tower of Burano




In this case, the black cat is good luck


Interior of the Trattoria


Chef Ruggero


These baked scallops were beyond amazing


Razor clams…what a treat!
The presentation of the spider crab dish
We stuffed ourselves silly with seafood
While I cannot claim responsibility for crafting our fantastic Italian travel itinerary,  I can tell you about the insanely knowledgeable Bonnie Brayham, owner of the Purple Truffle.   She is someone after my own heart, whose passion of travel, adventure, food and wine prompted her to start her own company.  This was our second trip carefully organized by Bonnie, the first of which was two years ago to Paris and Beaune.  Please check her out at:
Purple Truffle
6, Rue de Commaille
75007  Paris
+ 33 6 23 91 81 65
Hope you are having a wonderful start to your week.
xo M

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