Well, today turned out to be a bit of a surprise. Frank’s birthday was this week, and I was going to surprise him with a trip to the Island of Burano, way out in the Venetian Lagoon. I had booked a special lunch restaurant out there. Since this would involve a couple of vaparetto (water taxi) changes, we left a couple of hours before our reservation. Frank knew we were going to an island, but didn’t know which one.
The morning was foggy, which was really pretty – everything seemed shrouded in mystery as we struck out. We quickly walked to the stop by St. Mark’s Square, feeling very smug that we knew our way now, after a week here. We validated our water taxi passes and strode up to the platform – which was nearly empty. After waiting for about 10 minutes and seeing people come – and then leave – we started wondering if there was something we were missing. It turns out that all vaparettos to the islands shut down in the fog (called nebbia in Italian). There would be no Burano today.
That’s ok – we are savvy travelers. We went to the Cafe Florian for tea and coffee and came up with a new plan. I moved our Burano reservations to the next day and we decided to try Guidecca instead. It is the island across from Venice. We could see it through the fog, so we figured the water taxi would take us there. I had heard about a famous restaurant there – what a great back-up plan. We are so adaptable!
We look at our maps and see we need Vaparetto #2, which stops at San Marco. Great – we are right here. We hop on, only to discover it is going the wrong direction. So we make our way back up the Grand Canal back toward our home where we started the day. No worries. It is a scenic trip. I snagged us seats on the front even, so we can enjoy the ride. Well, Vaparetto #2 goes up the Grand Canal, around by the parking lot (not so scenic) and then out to the open water of the lagoon before stopping in Guidecca.
Nearly an hour later, we finally got off, frozen as popsicles. But at least we are here. The restaurant is on the quay by the water taxi stop so should be easy to spot. But there is not a soul to be seen – although the views back across to Venice were stunning. Guidecca appears to be a ghost town, even spookier in the fog. We walk up and down. Even the famous Cipriani Hotel is shuttered for the season. We find the famous restaurant, which is boarded up and closed until April. Oh no. (At this point, I could not feel my fingers or toes and had trouble enunciating words.) We finally spied a sign for a trattoria and gratefully fell in the door. They were closing, but took pity on us and let us stay. They were out of nearly everything on the menu, except the tagliatelle with duck ragu. It was one of our best meals since we were so happy to be there.
But eventually we did have to leave. Back to the vaparetto stop. There were two taxis that would be running, both stopping at St. Mark’s. But the second one (#2 again), we knew by now would take us back up the Grand Canal closer to our home. We let the first taxi go by so we could wait on #2. We were finally getting the hang of this. The #2 taxi came and we hopped on (inside this time). It crossed the channel and stopped at San Marco. Most people stood up, but we lived on the Grand Canal so would stay and keep going. Finally, I noticed that we were the only people at all left and asked Frank if that seemed strange. About that time, the conductor came in and yelled something in Italian and motioned us to “shoo.” It turns out when #2 reaches San Marco, it turns around and goes back the same way it came.
We decided it would be easier to just walk home. [We are now home – weary, windblown, and finally warming up. We will try for Burano again tomorrow.]