Landed in Nice from Venice around 3pm, met up with Erin who flew in from London and Ollie who drove his car in from his office in Genoa. Drove to downtown Nice, past all the iconic mid-century hotels and beaches that you can picture Audrey Hepburn or Frank Sinatra frequenting. Downtown Nice felt more Italian than French, which was explained to me that it used to be part of Italy until the 19th century. Met Anne-Sophie (the Lyall's French exchange student with whom Erin became best friends), who was out tour guide and got us 2 Nice specialties--pan bagnat and pizziolla. Did some shopping then headed west after 2 hours for San Tropez.
View of our apartment / view from our apartment. Left at 9am Friday morning to catch a water bus to the bus station, then a bus to the airport for our flight to Nice, where we will be meeting up with Ollie and Erin for the last part of our trip.
23 July 2015
Dinner wasn't until 9:30 (we got reservations months ago at a place called Covina, which Erin and Ollie told us about), so we left around 6:30 to explore some more and stop at random places for a glass of wine. The heat was relentless. Dinner was on the other side of the island in a mostly residential neighborhood, but by the time we got there it was well worth it. It seated no more than 20 people, and was a 3-course dinner--starter, main, and dessert. Our server was also the owner, a young charismatic Italian who made everything he said sound like the greatest thing in Italy. He served us free, organic prosecco from his father's vineyard. For starters, I got a salad with fresh sautéed sardines (a Venetian specialty) and Brie got a bowl of homemade pasta marinara that she says is the best dish she had in Venice. For mains, Brie got pork neck with vegetables, and I got tuna steak with a caper sauce. Dessert was tiramisu and créme brûlée, both wonderful.
Walked around for a while looking for a lunch spot, and settled on an overpriced but still good restaurant in a random piazza (Brie got gnocchi bolognese, and I got spaghetti and clams). Walked through Venice for the next 3 or 4 hours until we couldn't stand the heat anymore, then went back to our room for cold showers and to rest for a couple of hours. It's a beautiful, magical city but unfortunately the heat soured our experience a bit. Stopped in a few little bars along the way for a beer or glass of wine to cool off, and got a delicious plate of octopus ceviche.
We got up early Thursday morning to beat the lines at St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco). Brie read that since St Mark's Basilica doesn't open until 10am, but the tower opened at 9, the trick is to get there just after 9 to ride up to the top of the tower, enjoy the view and take pictures, then ride down and get in line for the Basilica. As we were waiting in line, a tour guide walked past and said for €15 per person, you can skip the line and get a 1-hour history tour of the square and the basilica. As it was already 90 degrees and rising, we took her up on her offer and it was a great, fact-filled tour.
22 July 2015
On our hosts recommendation, we went to dinner at Muro, in the Frari district. It was a lovely 30 minute walk (should have been 15-20 minutes, but we got lost a time or 2) through alleys, over bridges, and past several open piazzas that surprised us each time we stumbled upon them. Dinner was packed which is always a good sign, but we were able to get the only open table inside (in the A/C). We both had beers (and an Aperol Spritz, the classic Venetian summer cocktail), and split a pizza and duck gnocchi, which were both fantastic. On the way home, we couldn't help but get some gelato right outside the apartment. When in Italy...
Arrived in Venice around 6pm, had to catch the bus from the airport to to the Venice bus station, then figure out the Waterbus system to the nearest dock to our apartment (another AirBnB stay). This impressive clipper ship sailed by as we were standing at the front gate of the apartment. Great location, but alas...no A/C again, while 97 degrees outside.