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Romagna Italy, man works in vineyard

Flashing a fab smile in a Romagna vineyard!

Of course you have heard of the famous Tuscany region in Italy, but have you heard of Romagna?

This delightful area running up to & along the Adriatic sea is much less known to visitors from Ireland, the US and UK. Often combined with the more widely known Emilio area (Emilio-Romagna,) Romagna on its own is a perfect destination for enjoying the feel of real Italian life— especially if you adore good food and wine. Romagna is renowned even amongst the otherwise totally region-loyal Italians for its delicious fare! Romagna region Italy

Settimana del BuonVivere!

Each September the region has a ‘Week of Good Living’, Settimana del Buon Vivre in Italian, celebrating and exploring the bounty & community of Romagna. It was during this exciting time (bonus: hello warmth & sunshine– September in Romagna feels like an ace Irish summer!) that I was invited by the event’s organizers to come and experience some of the food, wine, nature and history of the region. I was completely won over by Romagna, and especially buzzed off the fact that I never really encountered many other English speaking visitors– it felt rather like discovering an Italian secret 😉 (Likewise, if you click the Week of Good Living Buon Vivre link above, use Google translate; it’s in Italian.)

Here are a few suggestions to explore in Romagna:

–> Get slathered in warm healing mud!

It is wonderful! Funny (well, I was giggling as I got mudded up) and highly relaxing at the same time, this is a treatment you can receive with the special local mud at Spa Riolo Terme. If you have aches and pains from issues like arthritis as I do, I think you will especially enjoy being cocooned in the warm mud. You’ll be wrapped in white sheets after the mud is applied, and left to relax as the warmth soaks right into your very bones. Ahhh, bliss!

A visit to The Riolo Terme Spa’s warm mineral water pool, with room for gentle swimming as well as massaging jets & fountains, is another delight. Just remembering makes me wish I was in there now… They’ve also one of their renowned healing mineral waters available to drink,— but that is not a delight! It is quite sulfurous- hold your nose & down it! 🙂 Here’s the scoop from their site regarding the Spring Mud:

Vulcanetto di fango curativo

About to be slathered in mud, Riolo Terme Spa, Romagna Italy

A sneaky- thus blurry- spa pic! Here I”m about to lie in the mud & have it slathered all over me!, Riolo Terme Spa, Romagna Italy

The very fine curative mud of Terme di Riolo is unique in Emilia Romagna in that it “springs“, or spontaneously emerges from the ground, pushed by gas from “little volcanoes”, or mud springs, situated near the spa, and is already Naturelly mixed with salso-bromo-iodine thermal water. The mud of Terme di Riolo displays characteristics which are extremely interesting from the standpoint of heat retention capacity and ion exchange capacity (Official Analyses of the Hydrology and Environmental Protection Section of the Department of Pharmacology II, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Pavia, July 1989).
Thanks to its origin, it is extremely plastic, with a velvety texture, and highly penetrable.

Once collected, it undergoes a maturation process in special tubs until acquiring the clinical, physical, biological and therapeutic characteristics that make it the ideal means for an anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, muscle-relaxing and revitalizing therapy.

Vulcanetto di fango curativo

Main clinical indications:

  • Osteoarticular disorders: rheumoarthropathies in quiescent phases, such as post-injury primary or secondary arthritis, fibromyositic rheumatism, chronic gout in joints
  • Skin: acne, psoriasis, seborrhoea, chronic eczema, urticaria, dystrophic lesions
  • Peripheral vasculopathies, water retention and cellulite

At Terme di Riolo, spring mud is used:

  • In Mud therapy (total and partial hot mud applications)
  • In Naturel Methods (leg wraps with cold virgin mud and essential oils, according to Kneipp hydrotherapy)
  • In Thermal Aesthetic treatments (virgin mud face mask, cosmetic virgin mud body and scalp wraps)

–> Savour a special Medicinal Herb Garden, & a glorious meal!

The medicinal herb garden info

The medicinal herb garden info

Il Giardino Delle Erbe is stunningly situated on a hillside along a steep & picturesque valley. Here they grow herbs and fruits of many varieties, used since medieval times. The centre is dedicated to expanding the knowledge of these plants, both in their cultivation and uses. The Garden is located in the Casola Valsenio area, part of Italy’s Chalk Vein. The Garden can also do guided tours for small groups with a couple of days notice. Additionally, there are seasonal events, such as this interesting one in October:


“Festival of forgotten fruits: the second and third weekend of October farms Casola Valsenio exhibit in the historic fruits once cultivated or gathered in the woods for food. You may find blackthorn, cornelian, rowan berries, pomegranates, etc. azzeruole. And ‘possible to participate in tasting workshops and cookery, contests of jams and liqueurs with the forgotten fruits.”

Not far from the herb garden is one of my favorite restaurants in Romagna, Il Cardello Locanda. The ‘ohh-ahh’ location alongside the vineyards, the charming stone buildings, the fantastic food, wine and service had all of us in raptures. This restaurant is high on my return-to list! It may be a cliche, but it is often true– the best Italian food is made by the Mamas. You’ll see some of them at work creating the deliciousness at Il Cardello Locanda in my video down below. Here’s some background from Cardello Locanda:

“The “Cardello Locanda” came into being on an estate owned by the Casa Oriani Fund in the Regional Park of the Romagna Chalk Vein, following thorough renovation of the old farmhouse known as “Mingotta”. The former threshing floor and the surrounding landscape evoke deep roots in an ancient peasant civilisation. For example the little stable belonging to the family that lived here is still intact and you can make out the spaces for the animals, a wood-burning oven and a well preserved hayloft built in accordance with the local criteria of the day. Cookery at the inn is closely linked to the flavours of the area, to the importance of seasonal ingredients and to a desire to offer guests the products of our land. Herbs, meat, vegetables, cheeses and wines are selected with care and attention, always seeking quality and niche products. Our kitchens are mainly supplied by local producers, and our special close collaboration with the Casola Valsenio Medicinal Herb Garden contributes significantly to enrichment of the flavours of the territory which arouse lively interest.”

Wine & Alessandra; Romagna Italy

Wine & Alessandra; Romagna Italy

–> Discover a Romagna varietal wine 

For an absolute plethora of amazing wines, prodcuced both locally and beyond, an evening at Cantine Antica Grotta in Riolo is unmissable. Located near the medieval castle La Rocca di Riolo of  Caterina Sforza, the fascinating Tigress of Forli, (TIP: the castle is a fab place to watch the sun set,) Antica Grotta restaurant & wine bar is a treasure trove of heavenly wines and tantalizing local food. This man knows & loves his wines!

One vineyard that is well off the beaten tourist track (their wines not sold in shops) is Noelia Ricci. You can also taste their Rosolio produced with their own pomegranates! I saw so many of these fruit trees growing in Romagna– the landscape is delightful and mouthwatering! Find out how you can visit the vineyard, here, from Italian sommelier (writing in English) Alessandra Catania.

Be sure to watch the video! These are just a few of the joys of visiting Romagna. In my next post on the Romagna area, I’ll bring you up to the coast.

Click for more on what the Casola Valsenio and the Riolo areas offer –do avail of Google translate as these sites are in Italian.  

Many thanks to Settimana del Buon Vivre for having me over to explore Romagna! I hope to return many times & enjoy the Italian good life. See you in Romagna, readers! 😀

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Romagna%20Italy%20Delights”]

PS- If you love authentic Italian food, read this article on a great way to get the most out of food in Venice.

On the trip with me were 

you can check out what they loved about Romagna as well!

Emilia - Romagna ItalyA Taste of Good Living in Romagna, Italy!

Discoveries of food, wine, thermal spas, nature & history await discovery in a less touristy area of Italy!

So that I can report back to you with tips, visiting info, and photos 🙂 I’m off to experience the Romagna part of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna area on 1 October to the 8th. That’s during the Week of Good Living (Settimana del Buonvivere in Italian,) and though I’m very excited to delve into this top notch foodie region of Italy, there is also something that is frightening me about it!

Chef Cannavacciuolo via

Chef Cannavacciuolo via


The Italian Gordon Ramsay, apparently ”known for the severity of his judgments and outstanding quality of his cuisine”, chef Antonino Cannavacciuolo, star of Italy’s Kitchen Nightmares, will be the guest of honor at the opening dinner of Buonvivere ‘Week of Good Living.’  But, no, it’s not him I’m yikes-ing about, it’s that this will be a gala dinner held in the stunning Teatro Verdi in Cesena, and I’m told I will need elegant dress for it! Uh oh… Janey Mac, I’ve not done elegant(ish) since my wedding! I’m really nervous about this… Italian people seem so naturally elegant, and I’m, well…short and fluffy. Ah well, at the same time I am also really excited to go to this dinner, and it turns out the hotel where I’ll be staying is right by a thermal springs spa— just the thing to relax your nerves! *Breathe*  🙂  


Got a bril skirt at Kilkenny’s vintage & more shop, Shutterbug. The very kind shop assistant gave me some good advice on what to put with it on my budget, & with a €2.50 tank top from Penney’s, some dangly earrings & the Shutterbug’s belt used as a scarf, I’m feeling  happy that I should be elegant enough– at under €60 all in. YAY! Plus, the skirt can easily be dressed down a bit; it won’t be a one-off wear. Very happy bunny here 😀

My  'elegant' outfit for the Semana Buon Vivere gala opening dinner! Got it all for under €60!

Success! My ‘elegant’ outfit for the Semana Buon Vivere gala opening dinner! Got it all for under €60!

See and Do

The Garden of  Herbs and Forgotten Trees in Casola ValSenio, and the romantic Abbey nearby — I’ll be letting you know about things like these. Plus, visits are planned revolving around the old ways of fishing in Romagna, local food products, (even cooking with flowers!) local wines, a trip to the 2nd largest aquarium in Italy, nature walks & more. Of course I’ll share plenty of photos of it all! Italy is extremely photogenic 😀 If you’d like to see a sample of the gorgeousness, below is a video on Cesena, one of the towns where we will be. You can also see the fabulous Teatro Verdi in it, home the aforementioned gala Buonvivere opening dinner. Do have a watch.

Mapped out

The first 6 days of this trip are as part of the Buon Vivere Week blogger’s tour I was invited on, and I’ll have a day or two afterwards on my own. I’ve made a Google map with some of the places we’ll be; it is at the very end of this post. All of us will be using the hashtag #romagnabuonvivere on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook so you can follow it to get a wide feel for the area through several eyes.

Here is a list of the blogs of the other participating Buon Vivere Week 2014 bloggers: buonvivere 2014 

If you’d like to see more from Buonvivere Week/ Week of Good Living‘s own website, click.

Their Facebook page is here. Using the Translate button is very helpful 🙂 

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Cesena,%20Romagna,%20Italy”]

I’m so looking forward to sharing it all with you, and Thank You to Alessandra and Settimana del Buonvivere for inviting me to experience this new-to-me region of Italy!

Enjoy excellent italian wine with iloveFerrara

Enjoy excellent italian wine with iloveFerrara


Fantastic, no matter what you do on your visit. But getting beyond typical tourist spots to experience more local flavour with is even better!

This is why I want to introduce you to Agata, who has started the exciting endeavour of I’ve known Agata for a while now, and we are planning an extensive trip together next year. She has got to be one the most organized people I’ve ever known, as well as being one of the most upbeat. I am really pleased to be able to help showcase here, so have a read:


Campanile od the Duomo, seen from the main square

Holiday with a blogger

Although there are hundreds of travel blogs and you are probably a reader of some of them it is not that often when you actually can join the bloggers themselves. They are telling beautiful stories about places they visited and the pictures of local food make you hungry. If you wish to join one of them this project is for you!

Agata and her blog

Meet Agata: she is a traveler, writer and photographer, and one of these people whose pictures make you hungry! She lived in Italy for many years and traveled around the world. She runs a popular travel blog Null&Full and she enjoys her travels very much.

Time to share

Travel gives a lot of pleasure and brings a lot of energy to your life. And it is the best thing on earth if there is someone you can share it with. Thus, Agata thought her idea ‘Holiday with a blogger’ is a perfect combination. So here is the thing: this September you can join her and spend a week in Ferrara on tasting best Italian food, wines and having fun!

Italy at its best

Italy is easy to love! Everyone agrees with that. It is even more true when you have someone who speaks Italian, knows local habits and guides you through the Italian way of life. Living in Italy made Agata aware of all local particularities so her idea is to give you an opportunity to experience the best part of it.

And this is how a project called was created. An essence of Italy at your fingertips! Join Agata this September and she will guide you through Ferrara, best Italian food and wine, and a super cool event: Street Dinner.

Book today and join the party!

Have fun in Ferrara! Be sure to send Vibrant Ireland a social-media  postcard!

New Year 2014 clock Top tips from 2013! Give some a try in 2014 – an enjoyable type of resolution.

2013 was a busy year, and I experienced many wonderful places, foods, and events in Ireland and abroad. Here are some that really stood out, and you may like to try for yourself.




This year Campagne in Kilkenny City nosed out The Tannery in Dungarvan, Waterford as my favorite restaurant for a special occasion. The Michelin Star folk loved it as well, awarding it a Star. This is only one of the awards Campagne has garnered this year. Whatever about all that, your taste buds will be the best judge, and I think they’ll be very pleased. Do NOT skip dessert here. And if you’re on more of a budget (like us,) lunch & the early bird dinner are great value.

Dear people, there are SO many good places to eat in Ireland, across all price points. Another wonderful restaurant I ate at in 2013 was Bang in Dublin. These are just 2 of the best that I ate at for the first time in 2013, and that I’ve now eaten in more than once.


Fab Food Trails Dublin Ireland ; Sheridans Cheese

Sheridan’s was a delicious stop on the Fab Food Trail tour.

Food Experience

Fab Food Trails of Ireland are lead in Cork and in Dublin, where I did mine. A tour with them is a wonderful way to graze on top grub whilst exploring the city & its history as well as its food. Yep, they are fabulous- and for visitors and locals alike.


Food Products

This year we discovered several lip-smacking new-to-us Irish food items. One that I can’t stop craving is the treacle scone from Gleeson’s in Roscommon. As well as their Townhouse accomodation, they’ve a restaurant, cafe, and a deli in Roscommon Town. We booked their ‘Taste of the West’ package and it was on this holiday that I discovered the scones. (Note: their dinner was delicious too, and we choose to eat at Gleesons both nights!) In fact, Roscommon is the proverbial hidden gem in regards to a foodie mini-holiday, with the fantastic craft beer( & cool live music) pub JJ Harlow’s there on The Square as well. Now when anyone I know is near Roscommon I tell them they need to go get a treacle scone &/or a craft beer!


craft-beer JJ Harlow's pub, Roscommon, Ireland

Terry loved chatting to the craft-beer loving people at JJ Harlow’s pub, Roscommon

 A Tasty Tip for 2014

Starting Saturday, 25 January 2014, Biabeag (Irish for small food) will be holding events around artisan food products and producers. The first delicious & interesting offering is on real bread, with 3 dedicated breadmakers from around Ireland sharing their stories and their wares. Come to Kilkenny and enjoy!



Venice is full of delicious food, but has mediocre yet expensive food as well. When you’re a food lover on a budget, this can be frustrating. One of the best things we did to remedy it was to get the local insider information on a Walks of Italy food tour.


Red wine & good times on the Venice Food Tour, with Kristina from Walks of italy

Red wine & good times on the Venice Food Tour, with Kristina from Walks of Italy

Venice: Eating out in the Castello area

We stayed in the residential area of Castello (wonderful!) and one of our local bars, El Refolo, was very welcoming, with nice cicchetti to snack on. Located on the wide Via Garibaldi, El Refolo is an ace spot for pretending to be Venetian, people watching and chatting while sipping a drink. Terry greatly enjoyed the Menabrea dark Italian beer they had at El Refolo, and it became his favorite spot of an evening 🙂

On the more westerly side of Castello, we had a lovely, reasonably priced meal with very good service at Trattoria da Jonny. My seafood pasta was heaped with different varieties.


Eating with Art

If you are enjoying a bit of culture in the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, I also recommend the cafe. Lunch here overlooking the sculpture garden was delicious– the seasonal pumpkin ravioli and pancetta & chicory mini- gnocchi were as beautiful as the garden 🙂

If you love food and love to cook, another food tip for Venice is to look into renting an apartment so you can take advantage of being able to cook the wonderful produce available in the markets. We certainly drooled every time we passed them!


Here’s to a fantastic 2014 for us all– may it be full of wonderful food, friends and fun!

Have a Happy and colorful 2014

Have a Happy & Vibrant 2014!






Red wine & good times on the Venice Food Tour, with Kristina from Walks of italy

Red wine & good times on the Venice Food Tour, with Kristina from Walks of Italy

In the food-heaven that is Italy, if you’re going to get a meal which leaves you disgruntled or angry, chances are that it will happen in Venice.

Sure, you only have to read the comments in the Venice restaurants section on Tripadvisor to see that. Often even the higher ranking Venetian places to eat will have plenty of mixed reviews, with some customers having quite different experiences than others. (We’ve developed a theory about this; more later.)

Thankfully, help is at hand.

To introduce you to the highlights and traditions of eating in Venice, Walks of Italy has a wonderful Food Tour that will stuff you full of eats, drinks, and ideas.

This interesting & tasty tour is lead by a local insider, and we found, yes;  it really will help you find your way amongst the maze that is Venice & Venetian food.

The Walks of Italy tours start from Campo San Giacomo di Rialto, a central area near the Rialto bridge; nice, because it is easy to find, but not as completely crowded as St Mark’s Square. This campo is home to Venice’s oldest church, a beautiful 15th century clock, and this area was a very important banking centre in Venice’s heyday, with bankers coming from all over Europe to learn their trade. We got the background of the square from our friendly guide Kristina before she brought us around the corner for our 1st stop– which involved drinking prosecco at 10.45 a.m. It’s a hard life living the Venetian way 😉

This first stop also involved learning about & trying some of the cicchetti (small snacks or side dishes) that Venice has to offer. Not only did we learn about the types, but we discovered what is best in each place we visited, and even the best types by whom in the establishment has made them!

Rialto is one of the oldest parts of Venice, & where we started our Walks Of Italy food tour

Rialto; 1 of oldest parts of Venice, & where the Walks Of Italy food tour starts

Only The Best

Case in point- at one of our stops Kristina asked if the ‘Mamma‘ was back from her holidays, because it was she who made the very best sardine based cicchetti. (I believe it was the sarde in saor. For more info on the traditional Venetian foods, check out this post from Walks of Italy.) She wasn’t back, so Kristina told us she would wait to have hers for when the mamma came back, and maybe we’d like to, too. Italian food culture is like that– simply wanting the best and knowing what is best when, where, and by whom. With Kristina we had the Venetian insider‘s knowledge!

One of the cicchetti we probably wouldn’t have tried without the stimulus of being on the Walks of Italy food tour was bacala mantecato, a whipped salt cod topping. It sounded quite strange to our ears, but as it also has added garlic we were convinced 🙂 It’s fascinating how some dishes are so simple, but actually involve a fair bit of workbacala mantecato a case in point. Here’s a video I found that demonstrates this, and how you can make this traditional Venetian food.

[youtube_sc url=”” playlist=”Preparing Venetian salt cod spread; food in Venice”]


Beautiful Meats–but, Donkey?

In addition to several stops in places to eat (all so good!) we also were shown some butcher shops with beautiful looking meats. There was also an equine butcher shop, which you may also find unusual depending on where you are from. A food step too far for me was the idea of donkey meat products. Aww, nooo; donkeys are just too cute…I’m not sure I’d eat horse, but I definitely couldn’t eat donkey unless it was an emergency. Luckily we were all just looking at these, not stopping & sampling. It was interesting.


Walks of Italy Venice food tour: equine butcher shop

The equine butcher’s shop; very interesting, & it was great having Kristina explain what was on offer.


 Rialto Markets

More to my personal taste was being guided around the Rialto MarketsVeg & Fruit, and the Fish Market. This is where Terry just about had a breakdown 😉 We had a tight budget on this 5 day trip (booked & paid for when I was still working,) and so had just been eating sandwiches made with items bought from the grocery shop, a few cicchetti,  take-away pizzas and some gelato for the past 2 days. Poor Terry was starved for protein & a big, filling meal. (As a fitness trainer he has larger than normal requirements in this regard.) At the seafood market he was salivating even though he’s not normally a fan.

 Rialto Fish Market, Venice. Venice food tour, Walks of italy

Beautiful fish at the Rialto Fish Market, Venice

That reaction is easy to understand–everything was presented beautifully and looked so fresh. It was here that we decided that next Venice trip we’ll rent an apartment so Terry can cook most of our meals. Doing so saves money, and with such wonderful food products, using them is part of the joy of Venice if you enjoy cooking. In fact, Walks of Italy do have cooking classes, but none in Venice yet.

If you visit the markets, you will likely be tempted, too, and with the benefit of a Venice food tour expert to guide you, you’ll get the scoop on freshness, what fish/shellfish/produce is in season & best for what uses. Class!

I could go on & on about what we saw, learned, ate & drank on the food tour, but that may just be cruel as to how hungry it will make you 🙂 I’ll finish up with 3 more reasons we loved the food tour, and why I think you will, too. 

Rialto market venice Food tour, Walks od Italy

Rialto veg & fish market– so much to see & drool over! Loved the patient dog waiting as his owner shopped 🙂


1. The inside info & tips on where to eat. As we had a tight budget, we were wary of blowing it on mediocre yet rather expensive meals out. With Kristina’s fantastic guidance we were confident in choosing restaurants, and she also let us in on a few local secrets— like the place serving seafood risotto as good as someone-who-shall-remain-nameless-for-their-own-safety’s Venetian mamma!

2. We were introduced to the Doge’s Coffee, a Venetian coffee shop that also sells packaged Venetian-roasted coffee. I don’t think we would have found it otherwise. The coffee was lovely, and we bought some to bring home to Ireland. You’ll get a coffee there as part of the tour, and a grappa; be warned– that grappa is not for the delicate 😉

Doges coffee. Venice Food Tour, walks Of Italy

Doges Coffee, mmmm!

3. All the other little places you’re likely to see & learn about: the spice shop, traditional cobbler, bakers–and just traipsing down all the little lanes is magical. Bring your appetite, your curiosity, and your camera. Enjoy! We sure did!

Oh yes, and as for our own little theory for getting a meal in Venice that won’t leave you disgruntled- we found that as well as going to recommended places where locals also go, going for dinner not long after opening was a plus- it seemed that you’d get much better service before the place got busier with diners. So many Tripadvisor reviews grumbled about service even in the better rated spots! We only ate sit down meals twice ourselves, but developed this theory after a frustrating try (!) for dinner at a busy place, a  fair bit of restaurant-watching as we sat in nearby bars nursing a drink & having a few cicchetti, and our 2 successful meals. Have any of YOU got tips in this regard? Please do share in the comments below.

In future posts I’ll tell you more about the good places we ate, and the fab Airbnb room & area where we stayed.

If you’d like to find out more about the Walks of Italy Venice tours, click here

Also handy are some tips on eating in Italy from Walks of Italy.

Disclosure: Terry & I were guests of Walks of Italy, but I always give my honest opinion. If I didn’t, what’s the use of me giving recommendations! 

Spices, bakers, cobbler & more-- discoveries on the Walks of Italy food tour.

Spices, bakers, cobbler & more– discoveries on the Walks of Italy food tour.









Venice. A searing beauty


Every time I close my eyes I see scenes from Venice. We are home two days now, but still she is imprinted on the visual cortex of my brain…

Is this why I’m feeling so muzzy-headed, so unable to do the mundane things; answer emails or write blog posts? I’m completely serious in saying all this…

I often want to sleep– is it because I need to close my eyes and see Venice again?

Thankfully she hasn’t wrenched out my heart & kept like Ireland did so many years ago, necessitating that I move here to make myself whole again.

But, yes, Venice has burned her beautiful after-image deep into me and I’m not sure when I’ll see clearly again.

Venice dusk


Venice, eastern Castello

All is still on this canal


Morning Venice, eastern Castello

Quiet morning; eastern Castello

heading out of the Grand Canal.

Heading out of the Grand Canal.

Gondola on the lagoon, Venice

Gondola on the lagoon

Venice- lagoon beauty

The lagoon shimmers

A quick kiss of the hand, Venice

A quick kiss of the hand

The moment when you go from quiet canal to splendor- entering the Grand Canal, Venice

The moment when you go from quiet canal to splendor- entering the Grand Canal


Venice reflections, love


A beautiful October day in Venice, eastern Castello

A beautiful October day in Venice, eastern Castello

The morning shop with the faithful friend, Venice

A misty morning shop with the faithful friend

your gondola awaits- Venice

Your gondola awaits- will you come to Venice?

 Soon I hope to be back to normal, and then I’ll give you information & tips you can use on your own trip, as well as some more photos for you to enjoy. Terry & I got most of our ‘Must Dos’ done, and thankfully the Walks of Italy were 2 of those- the photos taken from inside the gondola are from one of those Walks! Will tell as soon as I can 🙂

Into The Sun. Flight Fest Dublin Ireland

Leaving on a jet plane- for Venice!

What’s on your  must see/do list for Venice? What is high on your must avoid list?

Tell us in the comments- Venice tips gratefully received!

For us our Must See is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and much as we can of the Biennale–of course including the Ireland pavillion, and our Must Dos are take the #1 vaporetto down the Grand Canal in the evening light, eat some authentic &  tasty Venetian food, visit Murano &Burano, and generally linger, stroll, photograph & soak up the Venetian atmosphere.

Our Must Avoid list consists of massive crowds and really high costs; these are why we are going in late October and staying air bnb in a family home in the residential district of Castello.

Actually, one of our very first Must Dos is to get an Italian data SIM for my Samsung Note! I always try to get a local SIM card, because this is SO much cheaper than data roaming. I’ve come across a very helpful Italy SIM info post and I will let you all know how I get on myself later on this month. 

Now with added wi-fi.. Maslow's hierarchy of needs. :-)

Now with added wi-fi.. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. 🙂

Also assisting Terry & I in our pursuit of our Must Dos is Walks Of ItalyI had chatted with them during TBEX in Dublin, and now they’ve invited us to be their guests on 2 of their Venice walks!  We’ll be doing the Food Walk, and the Welcome to Venice Walk, which also includes a gondola ride. The gondola ride is an extra thrill, because if you just have a gondola ride on your own steam they start at €80. I’d never pay that much. But with the Walks of Italy Welcome to Venice tour, you get your 2 hr guided walk and a 30 min gondola ride from just €59 pp! Okay, there can be up to 6 people from your tour in the gondola with you, but this is the sort of good value we love! Here’s what the Welcome To Venice Walk consists of:

  • Rialto Bridge
  • Fondaco dei Tedeschi (from outside)
  • San Giovanni Gristosomo (inside with paintings by Bellini and Sebastiano del Piombo)
  • House of Marco Polo (from outside)
  • Church of Miracles (from outside)
  • Campo San Giovanni e Paolo
  • Scuola Grande di San Marco, Venice’s main hospital (from the outside)
  • Bronze Equestrian monument of Bartolomeo Colleoni by Verocchio
  • Campo Santa Maria Formosa
  • Arch of Paradise
  • Church of San Zulian (from outside)
  • Gondola ride (30 minutes)

The Food Walk  sounds a dream come true for us, too. You have probably heard that Venice is the hardest place to get really good food in all of Italy, due to its massive tourist ‘population.’ But if you know where to look, you will find foodie treasures. The Walks of Italy Food Walk will bring us to those treasures, and we’ll get to sample them 🙂 Here’s their Food Walk blurb:

dreaming of venice

A nice coffee and a planning for Venice daydream…

Eat, and shoplike the locals do! On this exploration of Venetian food and wine, you’ll learn how to navigate the island’s restaurants and cuisine like a true insider. Experience the bustling Rialto produce and fish markets, stroll streets that have been selling the same foods and spices for centuries, and, of course, enjoy tastings—including panini, crostini,frittiprosecco, local wine, a caffè and grappa

Oh yeah, liking the sound of that! I believe the walks are going to deliver the excellence they promise because I’ve met Stephen and Loredana, read about Walks of Italy’s sustainability ethos & practice, and checked out the reviews on TripAdvisor. I will let you all know how our Walks pan out, and I hope to be sharing plenty of photos from Venice, as long as my SIM hunt goes to plan.


Remember, if you’ve Venice tips you’d like to share with us & other readers planning for Venice, please do comment below. We’ve never been before, and I’m sure Venice is a place where you could go a thousand times and discover some thing fantastic & new-to-you each visit. Share your discoveries! Thanks 🙂

I’m not sure if I want to put this amazing Castello bookshop on our Must See list… I’m afraid there will too many books I Must Buy!

Fantastic bookshop in Castello, Venice

Fantastic bookshop in Castello, Venice. Photo via air bnb Castello section


 one of Richard Mosse’s Infra photos

 Don’t let the photo confuse you, yes, there is a reason for a picture of Congo in this post titled ‘Ireland in Venice.’ In fact, it could even be titled Kilkenny in Venice!

What am I on about??

Kilkenny native Richard Mosse is going to be the artist representing Ireland in theVenice Biennale 2013, and Kilkenny’s Butler Gallery director, Anna O’Sullivan,

 is Ireland’s commissioner/curator for this year’s Biennale.


Mosse will be continuing the work he started with his Infra photoghraphs, surreally documenting the ongoing conflict in eastern Congo. These are very powerful pieces, and I had the privilege of seeing some at Dublin Contemporary in 2011. For the Biennale 2013 in Venice, he will be doing things a bit differently:


“At Venice, Richard will push this work into a strong, immersive multimedia environment,” said O’Sullivan. “I am thrilled for Richard, who I know will rise to the challenge of this important opportunity, and will create an extremely original installation that will represent Ireland powerfully on the international stage.”

                              To find out more, do read the Irish Times article the quote came from, here.


Corban Walker was Ireland's representitive at the 2011 Biennale

Corban Walker was Ireland’s representitive at the 2011 Biennale

 Read more here



Like many of you, I ‘ve long wanted to visit Venice. Going to see  our own Kilkenny represtentitive 🙂 in Venice is a great reson to Just Do It! I’ve used Air BnB to find an inexpensive but characterful place to stay in the authenitic Venitian neighborhood of Castello– which is also home to the Biennale. I’ll be doing more trip research before we go, & will post up what may be useful to you all, as well as reporting back 1st hand info & tips from our visit. Roll on our October 2013!


I & other readers would love to hear any Venice tips YOU may have- please leave them in the comments below; and thank  you 🙂