After the museum, I was ready for lunch. I chose Osteria Enoteca San Marco, a small and stylish restaurant a few blocks from Piazza San Marco.
Nice, varied selection of bread.
Tagliatelle di farro al ragù d’anatra
The Scandinavian couple at the next table were being served this dish as I took my seat. I asked them what it was, and they told me it was Tagliatelle with Duck Ragu. By the time I was ready to order, they’d tasted enough to recommend the dish.
I liked it. The duck had been cut into pea-sized nuggets, and, as I often found to be the case in Venice, the portion was on the small side as well. Good starter.
Calamari alla griglia, gamberi marinati al lime e zenzero e verdure croccanti
My main was this nicely-plated serving of grilled squid and marinated raw shrimp, with lime and ginger.
Museo Correr, the museum of the art and history of Venice, sits on the side of Piazza San Marco farthest from the Basilica.
I had a special reason for making Museo Correr one of my first stops in the city. When I was in Vienna a few years ago, I became fascinated by the brilliant, tragic, and beautiful “Sissi”, Empress Elisabeth of Austria. She was born the same year that Victoria took the throne in the United Kingdom, and even now, more than a century after her assassination, she has an almost mythical status in the shards of the old the Austro-Hungarian Empire. An independent free spirit, Sissi was the Princess Diana of her time and place.
During her visits to Venice, her apartments were in what’s now Museo Correr. Nine of the rooms have been partially restored.
I’d been hoping for preserved period rooms. I didn’t quite get that, but some of the galleries had hints of what might have been.
Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
Exploring the galleries at Museo Correr eventually leads you to Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, the National Library of St Mark’s. And then you look up.
As I’ve mentioned, I don’t travel well. After an overnight flight from Washington via Paris, I finally arrived at my Venice hotel a little after 3 PM. I checked in, had a quick shower, lay down for a nap, and woke up 13 hours later.
I always write off the first day of a European vacation.
The next morning I was ready to go. My hotel was a 10-minute walk—crossing four little bridges—from Piazza San Marco.
St. Mark’s Square.
Napoleon allegedly once called Piazza San Marco “the most beautiful drawing room in Europe”, although verifying that quotation is impossible. It’s a huge, magnificent space, and seeing it for the first time made me regret that I’ve used the adjective “breathtaking” far too promiscuously in the past. For the next two weeks, the Piazza would mark my Kilometre Zero—everything else would radiate from here.
St Mark’s Basilica