Happy August everyone! I have no food or recipes to offer you this week, but I can tell you about the few days my sister and I recently spent in Venice, which is just as good, right?! Venice after all is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy if not the whole world, a place so gorgeous that it feels almost fake (I had to remind myself a few times I wasn't in Disney World). This was my first trip there in a while -- my last one was all the way back in 2010 -- and much like my recent trip to Naples, I felt I could appreciate the city more this time around. Whereas before I had found the city to be crowded, overwhelming, and overly tourist-y (still true) I perhaps didn't notice as much, having lived in Rome -- a city that is not short on chaos and tourists -- for a while now. While Venice is indeed packed with visitors and overly busy, I also found it to be picturesque, with lots of good restaurants and cafes, if you know where to look, not to mention surprisingly quiet and peaceful at night. With no further ado, here are the highlights of the trip...!

So! The purpose of our trip to Venice was for the wedding of our friend, Christina, who you may remember from this post on Padova, where she has been working as a teacher at the International School of Padova. Christina is a Brit, having grown up in the UK, but also Cypriot, as her parents and family were all born and raised in Cyprus -- the groom, Carlos (aka Charlie) is from Mexico, and the two of them got married in the Greek Orthodox church in Venice, Italy, with some American, Swedish, and Moroccan guests thrown in to the mix as well, so needless to say it was quite the international wedding. As you can see below, my sister and I were very excited to be there:
The Greek Orthodox ceremony was interesting to observe following a Hindu wedding ceremony and an Armenian wedding ceremony in June (remember, I was invited to 8 weddings this year). While some things reminded me a bit of a Catholic ceremony, there were a few traditions that were different in the Greek Orthodox ceremony -- the bride and groom entered the church together, to signify that they're now united going forward in life, and there were two crowns the bride and groom wore at certain points in the ceremony to also represent this. Christina's brother is a Greek Orthodox priest and conducted the ceremony, which was in a mix of Italian, Greek, and Spanish -- very cool. Below are some photos of the happy couple (fun fact: ever the artist, Christina made her own necklace) the ceremony, the bridesmaids in green with snazzy heart shaped sunglasses, and Lars and Houda, two guests that were dressed to the nines like two paparazzi-worthy celebrities and merited a photo or two.
It's not a wedding in Venice without a trip around the canals! After the ceremony, all the guests hopped on to water taxis to take a tour around the city before heading to the reception. This was a great way to see all Venice in all its splendor -- I repeat, is there any city more beautiful?! -- and also catch up with our friends Yasmin and Hannah, who had also lived in Rome teaching at the same international school as Christina before taking teaching jobs in Mexico and Spain, respectively. We hadn't seen each other in three years (!!!) but it felt like no time had passed at all. Here we are!
An emotional wedding ceremony plus a trip around the canals made us all hungry, so as soon as we arrived at the reception at the Hotel Bauer, we got to eating. After enjoying a few antipasti and a bit of Prosecco, we started the meal off with octopus and citrus salad, then burrata and crab ravioli, and finally filet mignon and vegetables, finishing the meal off with chocolate mousse with berries and then lemon and ricotta wedding cake. The food was excellent -- what do you expect from a wedding in Italy?! -- and the company was great. Charlie and Christina have lovely families and friends and it was a beautiful day, full of good food, lots of laughter, some (happy) tears, pretty much the perfect wedding. At risk of sounding cheesy -- it was just the heart-filling sort of day I needed after having a tough-ish time at my new job, a mini-vacation of sorts that I'll be relying on to get me through a Summer with no extended vacation planned. Thank you for inviting us to your wedding, Charlie and Christina -- and congrats!!!

We had not one but two reunions in Venice, one with Christina, Yasmin, and Hannah and another with our friend Marta, who you may also remember from this post on Padova. Marta (who we met back in our Bologna days) is one of the warmest, funniest, and kindest people I know, and we were so happy to have a whole day to chat and catch up with her. She's no stranger to Venice, having studied there, so the day after the wedding she showed us around the city. As for the foodie highlights? We enjoyed a couple of spritzes near the canal -- you can't go to Venice without having a spritz! -- as well as some cicchetti at Cantine del vino gia' schiavi (highly recommended). You won't find cicchetti in Rome; they're a Venetian thing, small pieces of bread with various toppings, meant to be enjoyed pre-dinner as part of the traditional Italian aperitivo (aperitif). Apart from being fun to say (pronounced chee-ket-ee) they're also super fun to eat -- we ordered three glasses of Prosecco and then opted for cicchetti with mozzarella and tomato, pistachio cream, pumpkin and parmesan, basil and ricotta, and, strangest of all, tuna with a dusting of cocoa powder. If this seems like an odd combination, that's because it definitely is -- but it actually worked beautifully. It was all the more delicious eaten right beside the canals. Photos below!

On our last day to Venice, we meant to visit the island of Burano, but, after sleeping a bit too late and doing a few quick calculations, we realized that by the time we got the boat to Burano and came back to Venice in time to catch our train, we'd have a bit less than an hour to spend there. In the end we decided to save Burano for late August and instead spend the last day visiting Piazza San Marco, walking around the city, and, most importantly, enjoying a few tramezzini. If you're not familiar, tramezzini are sandwiches made on soft white bread, no crusts, and something you'll find in most cafes in Italy. The tramezzini found in Venice, however, are super farciti, or really well stuffed, almost overly filled, with a variety of ingredients that put any skinny Roman tramezzino to shame. We got ours at the bar right next to Ristorante del Theatro -- the ownership is the same, its just the bar is much cheaper than the restaurant -- and opted for turkey and tomato on our first round, then tuna and then prosciutto cotto on our second. They were simple but delicious, perfect paired with a Spritz, and a nice way to close our three days in Venice.

I'll be back next week with some very summer-y, American recipes, but in the meantime here are some photos of the city that will hopefully transport you from your office (or wherever you find yourself in this sweltering hot week of August) straight to a vacation in Venice. Note: if you're looking for a good bed and breakfast in the area, we stayed in and highly recommend B&B Ca' Barba, right near the Mercato Rialto stop. Have a good week everyone!

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