Greetings the week after Christmas 2013! I’m living here for the month, writing and reporting, and the city is grand. You still see huge tour groups of curious Asians—welcome, friends! But the lanes are comparatively empty now, and they will thin out next week after the New Year. It’s the perfect season to visit. Just bring your warm clothes.
I’m gearing up to write an article for www.italiantalks.com about shopping with Cosimo from the Luna Baglioni, one of my favourite hotels in the world. Paula and I will accompany Chef Cosimo on an odyssey to the Rialto market and observe him as he selects the best of the region for the Canova Restaurant. We’ll photograph him, take some movies, and share his secret places and choices with you. Stay tuned!
This week we dropped by the Luna to finalize our appointment, and we shared a coffee with Cosimo, our old friend GM Gianmatteo Zampieri, and were expertly taken care of by the legendary Nicoletta. Cosimo sent out a dessert sampler with zabaglioni, dates and mascarpone, cheesecake, chocolate mousse, and a delicate custard. It’s always great to visit the Luna, since it feels like home and family—also to consult with the world’s greatest concierge, Antonio Massari about the latest insider places of interest. He always knows what’s happening.
Later, we went wandering, due east, out to the Castello neighbourhood, where a local resident pointed us to the Campo Ruga. It doesn’t get much more real than this. You may need your GPS to find it, but tucked away in this tiny square you’ll find Trattoria alla Nuova Speranza, where chef Alessandro (and his Viszla dog) welcomed us for an authentic Venetian lunch. A half litre of Valpolicella, traditional salad, and a lasagna which made us cry out loud, ‘Mamma mia!’ Then traditional Venetian cookies and vin santo, followed by a macchiatone, a coffee service unique to the Veneto—ask for it anywhere else and get a blank stare. The Trattoria is one of those real experiences that can’t be choreographed. True to custom, we had a shot of grappa before stepping back out into the windy chill. As the winter sun set behind the Gothic silhouettes, we strolled along via Giuseppe Garibaldi, back to the lagoon, where fantasy lights illuminated a temporary row of kids’ rides.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor