Saturday, 11 April 2015

venice for easter

Easter! We had lunch last Friday at Barrafina's new(ish) outpost on Adelaide Street in Covent Garden. I love the Soho branch, which opened in 2007, and have been meaning to try out the Hart Brothers' new place for a while. We ate crab croquetas and pan con tomate and tortilla and drank at least a few glasses of Cava. My favourite dish was a salad of chicory and anchovies, served with Salmorejo (an Andalusian purée of tomato and bread). Afterwards we wondered over to the British Museum to check out the Defining beauty: the body in ancient Greek art exhibition, which was quite brilliant. The show brings together around 150 items, mainly sculpture. Some are beautiful originals from Ancient Greek times, others are marble or bronze copies from Roman times or the modern era. I loved the bronze athlete on loan from Croatia the most, which was recovered from the Adriatic Sea just a couple of decades ago.

We'd planned to spend the rest of the long weekend visiting D.'s family in Edinburgh, but in the end we decided to pay a trip to one of our favourite places, Venice. A last minute change of plan. Friday evening was spent at my parents' house in Hampshire, on Saturday morning we flew and by midday we were making the journey across the lagoon to San Marco.

We'd booked into the Metropole for two nights, mainly because we'd noticed and fallen in love with the hotel's exterior the last time we were in the city. So Wes Anderson, wouldn't you agree? We checked in and went for a long lunch (prawns and polenta, pasta with duck ragu), and then for a wander. We spent most of the weekend wandering with no particular idea of where we were heading for. We'd shoot into a church or a bookshop, stop off for a slice of pizza, buy a gelato, get lost in a maze of side streets. All of the things you want to do in Venice.

Cool blue marble columns make up the exterior of the Doge's Palace. Sublime.

Pre-Saturday-night-supper spritzes and giant olives outside Florian. We had dinner at Corte Sconta, a renowned restaurant where they serve delicious seafood (swordfish carpaccio was a highlight) and great pasta. We slept well that night.

Unfortuantely, what with it being Easter Sunday, quite a few of the museums and palazzos we were hoping to visit were closed, so we decided instead to go for an early lunch on the Grand Canal. It was perfect - crisp pink tablecloths, dazzling light. I ate pumpkin flowers stuffed with ricotta and more pasta. Spaghetti, I believe. I never go for a main course in Italy, just a starter, pasta and perhaps a pudding... I mean that usually tends to do for lunch...

We spent the afternoon exploring Ca' Rezzonico, a museum dedicated to 18th-century Venice. I fell in love with these incredible chandeliers.

A brilliant palazzo! Ideal proportions and the perfect shade of pistachio green. Heaven. After a quick nap and a Bellini or two at Harry's Bar, we went for supper at Al Covo, a restaurant which is apparently 'very much on the international gourmet map', but which we stumbled upon totally by accident. I'm glad we did, because the owners (Cesare Benelli and his American wife Diane) were fantastic. I ate more stuffed flowers (courgette this time) and excellent fritto misto.

We took a boat to Murano on Monday morning. We saw a quick demonstration of a guy making a vase, which was fun. I'm really feeling Murano glass. I'd do anything for one of those enormous, ridiculous, pink glass chandeliers - the ones that look as if they've been crafted from sugar. So chic.

We zoomed around the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and then guess what? It was time for lunch. Spectacular reflections of the sun on the water plus beautiful pink flowers.

Afterwards we paid a visit to the recently opened Rousseau exhibition at the Doge's Palace. Highly recommended. This was my favourite painting in the whole show.

Before long it was time to head back across the lagoon. Thinking back now, the whole trip feels a bit like a mirage. Two nights and a few days of hazy Italian beauty.

Thursday, 2 April 2015