I can always count on the wonderful people at Context Travel to take me deeper into an Italian destination. This company leads small group walking tours, led by excellent docents who are scholars, art historians, and/or authors. One of their newest walks is called Venice and the East, where you’ll be guided through La Serenissima focusing on its Byzantine and Islamic influences.
Here’s what Context’s Jessica Stewart has to say about it:
One of the things that’s always fascinated me about Venice is its longstanding connection to eastern culture. You can see this clearly in the architecture of prominent sites like the Doge’s Palace and Basilica San Marco, but also through keeping your eyes peeled while wandering through the tiny meandering streets of the city.
Heading north toward Cannaregio, turn down a small alleyway by S. Giovanni Crisostomo and you’ll find yourself in a small, quiet square along the Grand Canal called Campiello Remer. Aside from the view of the Canal and delicious, and reasonably priced, food at the restaurant Taverna Campiello del Remer (Closed Wed), you can admire the amazing architecture of the palazzo here. A rare building with its medieval staircase still intact, the curved and arching window frames show the strong influence of the eastern world.
Heading deeper into Cannaregio, I end up on the Fondamenta dei Mori, where in the Campo dei Mori you can see statues of three Moors who were supposedly members of an important mercantile family with origins from the East. To finish the day, I’d pop in to Osteria l’Orto dei Mori, a newer eatery with modern takes on traditional Venetian cuisine.
This part of Venice is my favorite, away from the crowds and by some lovely, calm canals.
Grazie Jessica and Context! You’ve got me pining for future Venice meanderings…
It’s not only that I happen to like her taste in books.
Heather Hanson is the most fun person to be with if you want to know what’s happening on the Italian wine scene. I met her years ago when I went along on a Context Travel Wine Walk of Rome that she lead-which by the way is a great thing to do in the Eternal City–go wine bar hopping with Heather, I mean, because she gives you the backstage view.
For such a young woman, she brings in loads of expertise–she’s a certified sommelier from one of Italy’s most prestigious institutions and she’s lived in Rome for nine years. Plus, she is always entertaining.
I asked her to get me up to date on Rome’s wine scene and she came back with:
A new, very casual wine bar that I like is the Cantina Lucifero (via del Pellegrino 53), run by the owners of Taverna Lucifero around the corner, one of my favorite restaurants in Rome. The Taverna specializes in fondue (I always get the Piedmontese fondue with fontina cheese and fresh white truffle!) and they have always had a serious wine list. Their new wine bar offers a few different whites and reds by the glass as well as a good bottle selection, and their amazing appetizers such as grilled vegetables and cheeses.
And as for local wines to order?
More and more Lazio producers are eschewing quanity and focusing on quality. Marco Carpineti in the Cori district uses organic methods to turn out interesting, very well-priced reds and white. Isabella Mottura, the niece of established producer Sergio, makes serious reds in the Tuscia Viterbese, an up-and-coming sub-zone. Vini Pallavicini in the Castelli Romani makes extremely affordable wines (their most expensive wine will run you 15 euros at the winery) in a wide range of styles. I particularly like their Frascati Superiore Poggio Verde and their Amarone-style red Amarasco.
See what I mean? Heather is the one to go to when you want to know about wine in Rome.
She has a Website, Italy Decanted, AND a book in the works. I’ll keep you posted.