One of our favorite evening activities in Venice is sitting out under the stars on St. Mark’s Square listening to the dueling orchestras. The coffee bars around the square each have their own multi-piece orchestras that play opera, show tunes, classical pieces, and traditional Italian favorites. We love walking around and listening – and even dancing right in the middle of the piazza.
Our favorite is Caffe Florian. The Florian has been elegantly serving espresso and aperitivo to Venetians since 1720 and was a regular favorite of luminaries such as Casanova, Lord Byron, and Charles Dickens. It is simply magical.
My parents introduced me to the Florian – they have shared a dance or two in St. Mark’s Square as the orchestra played.
When I came back with Frank, I took him. We loved it so much that, when Frank and I eloped to Venice last year, we had our first wedding toast there. My family arranged it all. My mother and sister even sent the napkins from their wedding so we could feel like they were with us in spirit.
So – Frank and I had “date night” and returned to our special place. As soon as we sat down, the orchestra started playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” A perfect song for a Southern girl. I couldn’t believe it – it took everything I had not to jump up and wave my napkin! (My mother thinks they recognized me, but I’m not sure that’s true.)
We cheered, and they played “New York, New York” – Frank’s hometown. They also played “That’s Amore,” the song we danced to on our wedding day.
We are leaving Venice soon and went back one last time. The orchestra struck up “Time to Say Goodbye” from Phantom of the Opera. We had tears in our eyes as we sipped our limoncello. What a wonderful Venetian tradition.