Trattoria da Jonny

Last evening, March 30, I had promised Max a back calle tour of my old Castello neighborhood on the way to dinner. We met at our usual Zattere vaporetto stop, walked through to Accademia and caught the No. 1 to Arsenale which was my home stop my previous two visits to my beloved Venezia. We wandered along through the Sotoportego dei Preti. According to Lonely Planet:

Under the arch of the covered passageway Sotoportego dei Preti is hidden a reddish, heart-shaped stone about the size of a hand. Local lore has it that couples that touch it together will remain in love forever. Not ready to commit just yet? This is also a nice private spot for a smooch.

They must be joking! This is a very well traveled passageway for locals and not at all private. On to Calle de l’Arco, across the bridge and left on Calle Dei Scudi. Follow this to Ponte dei Scudi (the bridge of shields) my previous apartment is just to the right before the bridge. Pause to enjoy the views and the voices of the families echoing from the open windows. Cross the bridge and on the left is….Trattoria da Jonny. He wasn’t there when I stayed in the neighborhood….it was a vacant building for sale. But  now….


We were early…probably about 6:45 pm but Jonny welcomed us as though we were old friends. When I mentioned my friends Karen and Mike we were family. That’s Gio Gio one of our waiters back at the bar.


Yes, there is no one else there because it’s early for Italians for dinner.

We were provided with a basket of bread while we perused the menu. And the “coperto” was only E 2 per person. A coperto is not a tax…it is meant to cover the cost of the bread and the table setting (cover).


It was hard not to fill up on bread but I had suggestions about what to order. I got a bottle of l’acqua frizzante (sparking water) and Max had Venetian beer.


Karen had recommended the octopus (tentacoli on the menu) appetizer and Max ordered that. Sorry the picture is a little fuzzy. It is served on a bed of smoky mashed potatoes.


I order gamberi in saor (prawns with red onions, pumpkin, raisins and pine nuts) on polenta. There are some good sized prawns under those onions. The waiter teased me because I ate everything and even nibbled on the chive. I said maybe I should lick the plate. He laughed and said it would save doing the dishes.


For my main course I just had the “primi piatti” of paparadelle con ragu di cinghiale. A pasta with wild boar sauce.


Max had the tuna with seasonal vegetables.


We were both saving room for dessert because Karen had told me the chocolate cake was to “die for”. She was so right. Torta ciccolata con cuore morbido e salsa alla vaniglia. That is chocolate cake with a soft heart and vanilla sauce. I’m showing you two views:



Max chose torta di mele (apple cake)


As we were finishing our meal (around 9 pm) the place was beginning to fill up with …Venetians. We were the only non natives in the room. I must say our Italian teacher Josefina would be proud because the waiters complimented us on our Italian pronunciation. I had asked them to correct us. Behind the bar is Gio Gio, one of our waiters. I’m sorry I didn’t get a better picture of him.


Here is Max’s reaction when they brought two complimentary glasses of limoncello.


They knew I don’t drink alcohol but said it was so we could clink glasses and say “cin, cin”. We lingered and he managed to take care of both glasses….hard work but someone had to do it.

This sign on the wall really says it all:


English translation: By Jonny, the chef of your dreams. I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Here I am with Jonny and one of the waiters whose name I did not catch. Jonny hugging me.


So, my friends who are in Venice or planning a trip there….it is well worth finding your way to this wonderful trattoria in Castello. I told Jonny it was the best meal I’d had in Venice. More thinking and I realized it may be the best meal I have ever had. Really! I’m just sorry I’m leaving Saturday (for many reasons) and that I won’t have time to go back. Ah, next time…for there will be a next time and I hope to be staying just right across the bridge.

Here are some night views and reflections as we wandered back to the vaporetto and our apartments.


The new moon over Piazza San Marco taken from the vaporetto.DSCN7061


I will have two more posts for you of my beloved Venezia….breakfast yesterday morning in the Piazza and dinner tonight but they will have to wait for a bit. I need to spend my day making sure I can get everything in my suitcase and doing some final clean up here (dishes and take out the trash) then dinner at La Calcina tonight. Came close to cancelling the reservations and going back to Da Jonny but getting in there on a Friday night is unlikely. Hmm, we are family now. Nope, not going to do it.

I am sad to be leaving my beloved early tomorrow morning but also happy to be returning to the paws of my Diavolo. I have missed him so much. Not enough cats in this neighborhood and even if there were they are no substitute for your own fur buddy.

Arrivederci, Venezia! Ritornerò!





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La Cena a Do Mori

Wednesday, March 29. Today I sent Max on his own to visit the islands in the Lagoon. I just could not manage the amount of walking involved. He says he wants to live on Torcello. I got email with a picture of his lunch at the Cipriani.

When he got back….about 6 pm he called and asked what our plans were for dinner. We had no plans since I didn’t know when he’d be back so I took the vaporetto to the Palanca stop…I know to some of you who know Venice that is the long way around but with my current limitations 400 meters to Sacca Fisola, get on the vaporetto and within 15 minutes I’m there or take the walk to Palanca…900 meters and the 35 minutes it takes me to walk it and my way is better…at least for me.

He decided we would eat at Do Mori which is right there by the vaporetto (a little too close as we get the noise from that) but he had been before and liked it. It was a very pleasant evening.


I saw my favorite (or one of them) Venetian antipasti…Baccala on the menu. I was hungry and forgot to take a picture….sorry. The waiter was very impressed that an American woman could not only order that in Italian but that she would order that. It’s dried and salted cod that has been reconstituted, shredded and made into a creamy mixture and served with crostini (what you do with your day old baguette…no, really it’s fresh and toasted.) He was amazed that it disappeared as fast as it did and I think Max only got about a third of it.


Above picture is the tax police on patrol.

Below the setting sun casts a rosy glow.


As shown in the roses in my cheeks.


I had the grilled chicken breast and patate fritte (French fries).


The “side” of fries was huge and I could only manage part of it.


Max had their lasagna bolognese which was also an ample portion.


As darkness enveloped the City of My Dreams


The cuttlefish came out to play…

They are in season now and highly prized. Their black ink is used in a lot of dishes here this time of year including the black bread I love. But I still can’t get myself to order the spaghetti or polenta covered in black. But this pescatore (fisherman) was standing by the vaporetto waiting area with his net and other people were pointing and helping him scoop them up.


I am a little behind in my posting so you will get the morning of the 30th soon…I promise but the next post will be a very, very special dinner. Ciao, ciao for now.

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La Primavera

What says Spring more that the leaves budding out on the trees. Today’s adventure is a trip to the Giardini, gardens in eastern Castello. One of my favorite areas.

But first a reflection I caught through the window of the vaporetto on the way there.


Ah, another beautiful day in the quiet of morning…really it’s nearly 11 am.


Time to sit on a bench and read il giornale…the newspaper, I think he was reading Il Gazzattino di Venezia.



One of my favorite places is this historic greenhouse and nursery where you can buy plants and they have a cafe….Cafe La Serra. Just in time for a cappuccino break and a piece of their torta di mele (like apple pie but with a thicker crust)



Sadly neither Max nor I play piano.


You can catch up with your favorite gardening magazine. On the way out I noticed they had their special mix for cioccolata calda (hot chocolate if you remember) and I bought a few packets and he told me about their “flower food”…all kinds of teas, and pasta made from flowers. They also have selections of seasonings and a lovely gift pack of edible flowers. All grown organically and locally. I got myself some tea. May go back and get more.


Turtles enjoying the sun in the pond at the foot of the Garibaldi monument.


Fruttivendolo…that is what he is called. He’s your greengrocer selling fruit, vegetables and even herb plants from his boat on a canal in the Via Garibaldi. I think if I lived in the area I would have no trouble buying my fruit and veggies from him. I did buy “due mele per favore” that’s two apples please. I would have bought more but I’m leaving Saturday …sniff, sniff.


And we turn around and it’s time for lunch so we decide to sit in the sun.  Max had the gnocchi special with the beer and I ordered from their menu a selection of cicchetti…little bites that you order by the piece, my favorite baccala, an arancini filled with cheese rather than marinara and a tonno (tuna) with cipolla (onion) with a bottle of water. Yummy.


Not a tourist in sight at this end of the calle.


Just Venetians going about their day.


Walking back to the vaporetto we pass my favorite laundry calle.


What better way to end this day tour than with the flag of Venice flapping in the breeze.


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Palazzo di Peggy

Monday morning I gave Max time to sort his SIM so we could communicate. Hard to communicate by email when we are both in Venice and are out and about. We need to be able to text and talk. A little after noon he emailed and said he tried to call me. I called him at the number he gave me and it went through….he just had to drop the +39 because it is a local call. He had previously been using his French SIM so needed those numbers. We agreed to meet at Nico’s for a bite and decide on the afternoon plans. Such a lovely day, sitting in the sun. So I decided to have this:


Yes, I had gelato and whipped cream for lunch. Max had pizza served with crisps (potato chips to people in the US).

We needed to work in our planned visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and decided this was a good day….of course we continued to enjoy the sun by the water for quite a while first. Then wandering canal side to the Palazzo I had to snap a reflection:


Very soon after we entered a courtyard garden.


I asked about something I had read on their website that they have wheelchairs available for disabled people and that there was free admission and she said “Oh, yes, Madame” and discounted admission for my “attendant” Max. So we went to the cloakroom and got the wheelchair.. I now understand just a little bit (a very tiny, tiny bit) of what the view is like for my friend “Scooter Shooter” who takes photos from his mobility scooter. It is an entirely different angle and outlook. And yes, we were allowed to take photos as long as we didn’t use flash. The also have lifts into the buildings for the wheelchairs and as we saw; Mums with baby carriages and strollers.


Yes, Peggy is buried in the courtyard alongside her beloved dogs. I suggest if you are planning a visit that you first view the documentary “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict” because she was indeed addicted to art…and artists. Here is the list of the dogs who are buried by Peggy.DSCN6844

I would love to have this bench in my garden…if I had a garden of anything other than pots on a patio.


I will share some photos taken around the grounds and some of the art. I don’t know enough about art to tell you about or even who painted it (or sculpted as the case may be) I just know what I like and I do like a lot of this.


The Grand Canal through the door onto Peggy’s patio. Sadly they did not have a lift down to that so I could only gaze longingly from inside.


Max said he liked this. I do too. It’s very welcoming….like they left the light on for us.


Okay, Max. We know you didn’t really pose for that Picasso.


No lift here either so we have to go around which we did later.


A view of the patio through a clear window.


And I got a clear shot (without tourists in the way) of the Boy on a horse with his infamous removable “appendage”.


In the picture below you can see the lift I used just to the right of the steps. Open the gate and wheel me on (or I could have wheeled myself on) close gate and push button. There is another gate at the top and then you can wheel in through the doors. Usually someone will actually hold them open for you.


One of my favorite things…the chimney pots of Venice and all their lovely shapes. There are no longer working fireplaces in Venice but the shapes were created to keep embers from flying out and setting the city alight.


Max noticed this bench with a very true saying on our way out.


The view from the gate.


And I leave you with the lovely corner balcony just above Bar Gino.


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La vista dal campanile

I promised a separate post of the view from the top of the campanile (bell tower) on San Giorgio Maggiore. This is that post and yes, with my zoom you are entering Piazza San Marco which is not nearly as close as it looks in this picture.


But let’s start at the beginning….waiting for the elevator to take us to the top. It is glass and you can see the walls as you climb. I didn’t realize that I had the reflection of Max looking at the workings of the elevator until I got it on the computer.


I’m going to let most of the rest of the pictures speak for themselves as I don’t want to point out a landmark and have it be wrong.




Yes, that is a maze in the photo above. Marc and Iain tried to find the entrance but all the gates were locked.




We were there when one bell clanged…about 10:30. You do not want to be up there at the top of  of the hour.

And this is where we are going today.


There are a lot more pictures from the top and they will be in the album that I will give you the link for at the end of my journey.




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Il mio buon amico

Yes, another friend arrived in Venice on Saturday. My friend Max (aka Yosemite Sam) from my Italian class in Seattle is here for a week and we have lots of tentative plans. He rented an apartment about a kilometer from mine so we try to meet various places like Zattere where me met on Sunday morning and enjoyed breakfast at Bar Gino.


Max at breakfast.


Then we made our way back to Zattere to catch the vaporetto. I noticed the newly planted flower boxes along the way…or at least I hadn’t noticed them before.


We were joined by Marc and Iain at San Giorgio Maggiore. If you are interested you can find out more about this beautiful church on it’s own island here:,_Venice

We started our time there with a trip up the elevator in the campanile (bell tower) which totally deserves (and will have) it’s own blog post. Here are some pictures of us and of this beautiful church.

Left to right: Iain, me and Marc


Me and Max


Okay, the church, or in the first picture the view back toward San Marco






Yes, this picture is the floor and not an M.C. Escher painting.

DSCN6797We stayed for the 11 am Mass that was sung in Gregorian chant. We were expecting it to be held in the main church but no, this was an ordinary Sunday and Mass was held in a small side chapel with four monks, the priest and two assistants (other priests) chanting and reciting the verses. Both in Italian with some in Latin which I remembered from growing up with it.

After Mass we took the vaporetto back to Palanca and went in search of lunch. I had though of La Palanca but they were closed so we went to Majer where I had gone with Karen my second day in Venice. The guys ordered a variety of cicchetti (Max’s choice looked surprisingly like bacon and eggs)  and I had their version of a chicken Caesar salad.







I didn’t get a picture of the goat cheese smothered in vegetables. My salad (below) had warm chicken and sliced potatoes with a yogurt dressing. Not the usual Caesar salad.


All too soon it was time to hug Marc and Iain goodbye as they had to return to their hotel  to pack and catch their flight back to London. Watch their blog for their report on their visit to the Dingo Cat Sanctuary on the Lido. I’ve seen some of the great pictures.

Max and I headed to our apartments for a well deserved afternoon riposo (that’s a nap…or just a rest).


Posted in Beautiful Day, Bridges, Cappuccino, Cats, Cicchetti, City of My Dreams, Farewells, flowers, fotografia, friends, Giudecca, Life is good, me, Photography, San Giorgio Maggiore, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

They’re here!

After much back and forth in email over the last few months the day has arrived and I’m meeting Marc and Iain from London this morning. They have the blog that some of you see almost daily; and here is the latest post….they have lots of guests posts:

Two Red Cats 10 – Destroying plants!

They have never been to Venice and decided that my coming all the way from the west coast of the USA was a good time to book a weekend break.

Even though I awoke to a foggy morning the sun decided to break through by 9 am as I made my way to the vaporetto. The rain originally predicted did not happen and it was a beautiful warm day.


If I had waited a second to snap this shot the man in this lovely boat would have been waving. Evidently his friend was standing behind me on the vaporetto.


I texted Marc that I was on the way to the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop and they should just come out of the front door of the Gabrielli and turn right and watch for a woman in a leopard scarf head wrap. Good thing because the Riva was flooded….with tour groups. They had no trouble picking me out and after greetings and hugs we turned down a side calle and the crowds disappeared. Of course the first shop we passed had a window full of all kinds of cats.


Hardly another tourist in sight, just local people going about their daily business. They learned quickly that we cannot walk three abreast here and whatever you do, don’t block the bridges.


Iain goes eye to eye with an eye.


This is around the corner from my former apartment. The only group we met was one of local teenagers headed for who knows where.


They decided to investigate this narrow calle, barely shoulder wide. I advised them not to step out on the steps covered in green because I would not be responsible for pulling them out of the canal.


Can spring be far with balconies like these?



We wandered over the bridge to my favorite grocery store Punto, where in 2012 and 2013 the checkout ladies got so used to seeing me a couple times a week that they only spoke Italian to me. Maybe now I would understand and be able to answer. Punto is the building with the pointed roof just before the white archway.


Iain stopped  in Punto and got bottles of water for us then we went on to Campo San Lorenzo where cat houses sponsored by Dingo were once lined up in front of the church. Due to construction work there the cats were relocated. We found a bench in the sun and sat for a rest.


Although I didn’t get a picture of it someone had used colored chalk to draw pictures of cats just by the bench where we sat. The cats may be gone but they are not forgotten. I brought cat treats and fed them on my first visit to Venice in 2008.

And on to Campo Santa Maria Formosa and time for a cappuccino break. Marc on the left and Iain on the right…enjoying the sunshine.


After relaxing there for a while it was on to the most beautiful book shop in the world….or so the sign says. Libraria dell’Acqua Alta. Although there were lots of cat pictures, cat books (among some more “interesting” offers) neither Luigi nor his cats were present.


Marc climbed the book steps to enjoy the view.



Iain posed so we could both get his photo.


Although I had been planning on joining them for lunch at Caffe dei Frari…once home to a famous cat, I realized my body was telling me I needed to find the vaporetto home. So once again following my inner Venetian I led them out to San Zaccaria. These are some sights and reflections we enjoyed along the way.






EASTER IS COMING! Yes, those eggs are huge. I would have fainted to find one of those in my Easter basket. Poor bunny.


I was intrigued by the way the sun hit these bricks making them look like jeweled decorations. It’s a little grainy because I really cropped it to get them to show.


Just ahead is as I knew it would be…San Zaccaria and vaporetti to anywhere (almost) that you would like to go. I gave Marc and Iain directions on how to go through Piazza San Marco and find their way to the Accademia Bridge and on to the Frari and the caffe. We hugged goodbye until Sunday morning and I found my way to the No. 2 and home.

On my walk from Sacca Fisola to my bridge I found this. As if you really need proof that la primavera (spring) is arriving.




Posted in Acqua Alta/High Water, Beautiful Day, Bridges, Cappuccino, Cats, City of My Dreams, flowers, fotografia, friends, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments