Subject: Venice, Bassano
Ira,

We spend at least a week in Venice every year, and have for the last 15 or so. Currently we stay in an apartment in Dorsoduro, and enjoy the more neighborly feel of the area. There are very few places in Venice that are not full of tourists, and with the Academia the Salute and the Guggenheim there, Dorsoduro has its share. If you're in a good mood and up for an unusual dining experience, stop at Ai Cugnai for dinner. It's on the street to the Guggenheim from the Academia Bridge. On the Zattere, the street that runs along the Giudecca Canal, you can enjoy the sun, have a gelato from Nicco's and see real live Venetians shopping and walking their dogs. Campo Santa Margarita is also full of restaurants and a wonderful gelateria.

The other area of Venice that I particularly enjoy is the Fondamenta Nuova. It's on the far side from San Marco, the long street that runs along the water between Murano, San Michele and the other outer islands. I love watching the boats and having a coffee or a wine at one of the outdoor cafes. Campo San Giovanni e Paolo is nice as well and the trip there is interesting. It's on the way to the Fondamenta Nuova. The church is beautiful and the Ospidale Civile is fascinating as well. If you can get yourself to the area around Madonna del Orto, you will also see a Venice not usually full of tourists. We stumbled onto a First Communion there several years ago, and I was absolutely in tears - it was such a touching event. I guess Madonna del Orto is in Cannaregio.

If you want to see a part of Venice that is not quite really a part of Venice, head for Sant'Elena. Walk in front of the Doges Palace, over the Bridge of Sighs and keep walking - til you run out of street - that's Sant' Elena. They even speak a different dialect than Veneziano. The last time we ate dinner there, my usually quiet and dignified husband was high fiving the waiter over grappa...

Bassano is a delightful little town. The wooden bridge is nice and the park with the trees that run along the river, one for each of the citizens killed by the Germans during WWII is very moving. If you have a car, consider a trip up to Monte Grappa. It's a winding road up the mountain, and you need to watch out for the goats. On the top is an ossuary dedicated to the Italians and Austrians who died there during WWI. Some days you are above the clouds and frequently the view is spectacular. There is a restaurant on the top, but there are also two or three on the way up. The second one from the bottom has incredible grilled meats - I can't speak for the others.

Asolo is lovely, and unelss you're staying at the Villa Cipriani, it's a half day visit. One year we made a pilgrimage to all of the Palladian villas in the area, seeing all sorts of interesting things along the way. It was a way to wander with a sort of destination. I also enjoy Castelfranco and Treviso.

If I can help with any other questions about Venice, please let me know.

Callie in New Orleans