The most beautiful sunsets on the lagoon can be admired from the island of Giudecca – assures us Matteo Groppo aboard his gulet that will host us for the night in our first boat and breakfast experience.
Giudecca, the hidden Venice
We believe him on the word and then confirm it, enjoying after dinner the splendid evening that Venice gives us, with all the magic it is capable of and that thanks to the full moon, orange, exaggerated, which is reflected on the still water, makes it even more a postcard city.
We reached the island in the early afternoon enjoying the warm sun and the light breeze on the vaporetto that, passing in front of the island of San Giorgio, allows us to admire the splendid church of the same name designed by Palladio that emerges candid and imposing on the canal.
Before reaching our stop, that of the Redentore, another marvelous Palladian church that houses inside valuable works of the, we pass in front of the Church of Saint Mary of the Presentation, also called “Church of the Zitelle”. According to seventeenth-century sources, Andrea Palladio would still be the author of the project for this complex that incorporates, in addition to the church, an ancient convent and an institute that housed young girls without dowry, that is spinsters, and that from the XVIII century became famous for the production of precious lace.
Once down near the square of the Church of the Redeemer, which was built as a sign of gratitude for the end of the plague of 1576 that caused the death of a third of the city’s population, a brief journey separates us from the entrance of the Consorzio Cantieristica Minore Veneziana, in which is on display an ancient gondola with felze, the cockpit which up to the nineteenth century guaranteed the privacy of the nobles transported inside from the gondoliere de casada, in which one of the three shipyards in the world is based to produce the gondolas, legendary symbols of Venice.
The church, the fulcrum of the great feast of the Redeemer, celebrated on the third Sunday of July, contains valuable works by Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese and Palma il Giovane.
On the occasion of the celebrations, among the most heartfelt by the Venetians, a bridge is set up consisting of floating wooden and steel modules and tilting walkways arranged on 34 boats to allow the procession of the faithful from one side of the Giudecca canal to the other. Next, on Saturday night, that unique stage that is the San Marco Basin is lit by fireworks.
Maybe we will take advantage of Matteo’s invitation to return on the occasion of the party to enjoy this extraordinary fireworks display from the privileged stage offered by the boats.
Still a few steps separate us from the dock where they are anchored: we find ourselves in the presence of the caiques Akos and Freedom with Matteo who, as a good captain, does the honors waiting for us on the bridge. After the presentations, on his advice and with a discount coupon for those staying in his caiques, we granted a lunch a little out of hours along the Giudecca canal to the Ai Cacciatori trattoria with a table almost on the water and an incomparable view of Venice.
The sardines in saor are excellent and well seasoned and from the perfect cooking the spaghettini with clams with the added value of being served by friendly and professional staff. To digest, a beautiful walk on the shore up to the former Molino Stucky, built in 1895 to grind flour by a little-loved Swiss entrepreneur so much as to be murdered by one of his workers in 1910.
It stopped working in 1955 and since 2007 has been transformed into a 5-star hotel after a skilful restoration of 13 buildings, evidence of the most famous industrial architecture of the city of Venice.
On the way to report Sant’Eufemia, an ancient church of Venetian Byzantine origin, reworked several times over the centuries. And the fabric factory of Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish artist who took care of photography, painting and set design, inventing a technique to make his fabrics unique, almost “sculpted”.
We have continued to explore this Venice until now unknown to us by crossing the bridges that connect the set of eight interconnected islands that form what was once called Spinalunga, perhaps due to its fishbone shape, now a residential area made of colorful blocks of flats, clothes hanging in the sun and silent alleys. Some derive its current name from the ancient presence of a Jewish community. According to others, instead, the name derives from the term “zudegà”, that is judged, which refers to a sentence issued in the ninth century with which land was granted to some families banned from Venice.
But the Giudecca also lived famous characters of the caliber of Michelangelo and Vincenzo Balsamo, called Cagliostro: certainly the spectacle they enjoyed of Venice with the basilica and the bell tower of San Marco in the background did not disappear suddenly hidden by the huge cruise ships that sail the canal entering the lagoon through the port of San Nicolò, the northernmost access to the lagoon, and then reaching the Marittima along the gardens of the Biennale, Piazza San Marco and the rest of the historic city center.
We returned in time to enjoy the fantastic sunset we talked about at the beginning of the post, and then continue our evening dinner on the terrace of the restaurant Al Storico da Crea, on the first floor of an old renovated shipyard warehouse, with the wonderful view of the lagoon and the islands that look like huge fireflies shining in the black of still water.
This is also recommended by Matteo, our captain, who suggested that we order the mixed seafood starter which in a single dish contains all the essence of the lagoon: the delicious creamed salt cod mousse, the sardines in saor and the breaded and fried, spicy mussels with tomato sauce, marinated anchovies, seafood salad, fried prawns and the inevitable polenta.
This is followed by a mixed fried fish from the Adriatic, with lots of thick and very delicate sole, sfogio in Venetian dialect, and small and tender grilled cuttlefish.
The moon accompanied us to our shelter for the night, the gulet Freedom docked at the dock just below the restaurant. We’ll tell you the rest…