I’ve never been to Italy but I’ve always fancied a slice of La Dolce Vita (and the traditional pizza, of course). My friend Sam is studying at the University of Warwick’s base in Venice this term and thanks to Ryanair’s ridiculously cheap Frankfurt to Venice flights, I was able to visit him and spend a few days on the Floating City.
I travelled there on Sunday and returned on Wednesday, giving me two full days to see everything that Venice has to offer. Stepping off the bus into the city centre was like stepping into a film set. The whole city is beautiful. With winding streets and gondolas and street stalls groaning with Venetian masks and souvenirs, it was everything I’d hoped Venice would be but better.
Despite going out to a bar for a few Aperol Spritzes on Sunday night, we woke up early on Monday morning to go to the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, one of Venice’s many historical buildings (it actually used to be the headquarters of the German merchants in Venice, giving the Germanophile in me a kick). You can book fifteen-minute slots to visit the roof for free, where you can enjoy breath-taking views of the city. It was amazing, like looking out into a postcard.
And walking the streets feels like you’re living inside the postcard. Wandering around, I saw St. Mark’s Square, the city’s main public square which is named after its patron saint, loads of tiny tourist shops where I spent way too long choosing Italian souvenirs, and, most exciting, I got to see Warwick in Venice.
The University of Warwick in Venice is housed in a beautiful Gothic palace. It may be a stark contrast to the modern campus on the outskirts of Coventry that I know and love so well but seeing the signs and being there with a university friend still made me feel a little like I was back in Warwick.
One of the things on my Italian wish list was trying an Italian pizza. I wasn’t sure how accommodating mozzarella-mad Italian pizzerias would be to vegans, but Sam had scouted out a pizzeria located just around the corner from his flat which had an almost exclusively vegetarian and vegan menu. Named Bella & Brava, it’s a modern pizza restaurant nestled in a vintage Venice street. I tried one of the vegan options and it really was one of the best vegan pizzas I’ve ever had. With a fluffy base and delicious toppings (including fake cheese), it certainly lived up to the Italian reputation.
Trying Italian ice cream was obviously also on the list and after finding a gelateria that offered vegan gelato, we bought some in the evening and walked down to a canal. Lit up with lights and peppered with gondoliers docking their gondolas until the morning, the water looked even lovelier at night. Molto bello in every way.