Venice as romantic as it sounds and has been made out to be in fairy tales and history books is quite a charmer. You will overlook the fact that there's an open almost-sewage flowing through the city (mind you a sewage in Europe is very different from a sewage in Bombay), and will be awestruck at how someone probably just stopped the clock in Venice. She just doesn't seem to have moved beyond the 1950s, at least from the outside. From the inside, Venice is warm, loving and will invite you to lose yourself. You don't want to trust anyone but yourself in Venice, she has mischief flowing through her veins, in the narrow alleys and graffiti-ed back lanes.
Venice was the most alive city we stopped at. At any given time there will be people, drunk or not so drunk. Venice is a lot like what Bombay is now, just replace the pot holes with waterways and the rickshaws with water taxis. The only thing you can drive in Venice is a boat. We even saw packages on a DHL Express boat sailing by at a not so express speed, a water ambulance and policemen zooming by on police boats. It's quite a sight.
Once we got past all the water, tourists, canals and restaurants by the canals we got to the food. Sometimes the weather smells fishy, other times there is a cool sea breeze blowing through the air. Our first meal was dinner in Venice and we were worried we wouldn't get anything to eat since we only got there after 10pm. Venice is alive and kicking all through the night, we learned. The food is not very different from the other cities and mainly sticks to the basics for the tourists. We also saw a very interesting Japanese restaurant near the Grand Canal. The only difference in Venice is that the condiment tray comes with Red Wine Vinegar and Not Balsamic Vinegar.
The best Bruschetta ever! EVER!
Pizza with Black Olives
Got me some flavoured Soy Yogurt.
Gelaterias are aplenty and many of them had the frulatis or what we call sorbettos here. One Gelateria on all the vegan lists was Gelateria Il Doge. Il Doge has a few gelatis made with rice milk. It's much more lighter than a frulati or a gelati made with soy milk, but it was good none the less.
Il Doge - looks run down because it poured on us that day
Chocolate Gelati made with Rice Milk
If I had a kitchenette, I would've cooked my way through Venice. The vegetable markets were full of huge peppers, zucchini, egg plant, salad leaves, artichoke hearts, beans. All the markets have small boards naming the produce, price and the origin of each produce - peppers and egg plant from Sicily, Zucchini from St Erasmo, assorted salad leaves sourced locally.
Zucchini with flowers intact
Check out those peppers! HUGE!
Venice has many bakeries with their products displayed in their windows. Everything looked beautiful and I managed to find something vegan -brittle(Italian chikki) made with different nuts. My favourite was hazelnut. Brittle is usually just nuts and caramalized sugar cut into flat pieces and sold by weight.
Breads with faces
Since Venice was our last stop, I shopped till I dropped. I bought every imaginable pasta thats not so common here, organic Italian tomatoes, Arborio rice for risottos, olive oil, vinegars, porcini mushrooms, olives. I found quite a few specialty shops selling mostly vegan goodies. They had mock meats, vegan cheese, gluten free pastas, sea weeds, flavoured tofu, rice cream and so many other interesting things. Something about shopping for food and kitchen related goodies gives me a high. My refrigerator right now looks like I'm stocking up for the end of the world, hopefully I'll start using everything soon!
Italy is amazing, not only for whats there to see but also for what you can eat. Vegan or not, Italy has a lot to offer and I hope someday I can go back and devour the country.