Sunday, January 2, 2011


We are currently in magnificent Venice for Christmas/New Year period. Having been here many times previously, we choose to stay near one of our favourite places - the fish/fruit/meat markets near  Rialto bridge in San Polo. With all 5 of our children here with us we are planning to have a huge Christmas feast, cooked in our apartment and purchased in the wonderfully exciting Mercato (market) downstairs. An added bonus this year is the "Aqua Alta" - high water, has rolled in and we did the whole Christmas food shopping in gumboots and 200mm of water! It is certainly an experience one would not find anywhere else and one for life's memory bank!  A wander around the Mercato in Venice is certainly one of the highlights of visiting this remarkably captivating city. The fish is so fresh it is literally still moving and the scallops are so large they are like pieces of meat - a few of them is a feast!

We had a memorable photo taken in our gumboots while food shopping for Christmas Day, with the amazing decay of the city's superb Palazzo on the Grand Canal as a backdrop.

I took this photo while we were shopping for the Christmas Day food - everyone was wearing gumboots and acting like it was totally normal to shop in 200mm of water!

Midnight mass was celebrated in the incredible Basilica San Marco with the full complement of Catholic hierarchy. Basilica San Marco, consecrated in 1094 is one of my favourite churches I have ever had the pleasure of visiting - the gold mosaics that cover the ceiling from Byzantine era glow brightly when the church is lit for full Catholic celebrations. The mass was celebrated in a mix of Latin and Italian and at the conclusion (midnight) we left via the platforms that are laid out for the onset of aqua alta. These walkways, known as passerelle, allow one to walk without getting your feet wet, but in reality one needs the gumboots to access the many areas where the passerelle do not reach - particularly when the water rises to levels above 100mm. 

Our midnight mass in San Marco was a sublime end to the prelude to Christmas Day - memorable, exciting and reflective.

Our Christmas Day lunch was spectacular, albeit unusual. Our 3 bedroom apartment with "full kitchen" did not possess an oven, so we had to improvise for our roast. But this did not deter us - we made a slow cooked beef roast with lemon, rosemary and potatoes as a stove top pot roast - simply covered with another pot (to simulate an oven), we cooked it for 7 hours. The result was magnificent - it melted in the mouth! Together with fresh pasta with a sage butter sauce for entree, plenty of incredibly fresh vegetables and the most amazingly "boozy" tiramisu for dessert, it was such a memorable Christmas day lunch.