Staff Review

A Canal Cruise from Venice


29 Jan 2020

by The Kirker Team

Kirker Holidays

The name of the hotel barge I stayed on recently was La Bella Vita and true to its name, it was indeed a beautiful few days of my life. Although I have visited Venice many times before, this was the first time I have departed by water - surely the traditional way to travel onwards from Venice. I enjoyed staying at the lovely Hotel Ai Cavalieri in the centre of Venice, before escaping the hustle and bustle aboard La Bella Vita.


The first highlight was a private water taxi transfer from Marco Polo airport to the hotel, a very unique and memorable experience I would recommend to anyone who is travelling to Venice. Hotel Ai Cavalieri was definitely a good choice, it's worth considering if you are looking for a 4 star traditional boutique hotel, located in a slightly quieter but still central part of the city - it is walking distance to both the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square. I liked the atmosphere and the charming staff - they really couldn't be more helpful and welcoming - but what I liked most was the fantastic choice of delicious tarts served at breakfast time. Their home made apple, lemon and pear tarts with ricotta cheese were real mouth-watering treasures! Venice is a wonderful culinary destination for those who know where to go (or have the advice of my friend the Kirker Concierge...)

With regards to dining experiences, I also would like to recommend Cip's Club, a short boat ride away from St. Mark's Square - the service is supplied by Hotel Cipriani. This slightly more casual hotel restaurant offers not only lovely traditional Venetian cuisine but also enjoys breath-taking views from the terrace that heighten its ambience. I loved the atmosphere at St. Mark's square in the evenings but it was great to change our scenery for dinner, especially in such a unique way. We knew that there was a hidden telephone at the Cipriani's dedicated little pier not many tourists know about - just pick up the phone and call to request a boat transfer. Like in a James Bond movie, a private boat arrives to whisk you across the Giudecca Canal to the Cipriani for dinner.

The 'La Bella Vita' Experience

After a few pleasant days in Venice, a city I will never get bored of, I was excited to finally board La Bella Vita. So far I have only been on a barge holiday once before and it was in England, which I really enjoyed, so I was looking forward to trying it again. To my surprise, this stylish 20 passenger vessel looked more like a ship than a barge, with three decks including the large sun deck offering plenty of room for sitting, walking, sun bathing and taking pictures. At one point when I was standing there admiring the countryside, I panicked as we were approaching one of the old low bridges which traverse Venice's canals. But, before I realised, the crew managed to not only very efficiently and quickly fold down all the railings but also to carry all the furniture to a lower deck. Our crew was fantastic, they quickly created a very warm atmosphere in which we were spoilt with delicious and fresh local Veneto food matched with an impressive selection of Italian wines. What is more, before every meal, the chef explained every three-course lunch and dinner menu and the characteristics of each wine.

Another highlight was our guided tour of Chioggia - the most important fishing port of the Venetian Lagoon with its Roman, Etruscan and Byzantine history. After being told it's one of the oldest fishing ports in Italy operating the biggest number of fishing boats in the country I couldn't wait to visit its famous local fish market. The choice was excellent and our chef picked up some lovely seafood for our lunch. Chioggia is often described as a 'little Venice' which is not surprising given its beautiful historic centre, many canals, narrow streets and the architecture, but having very few tourists I found it even more charming. Another place I fell in love with was Lido di Pellestrina - a long and very thin island, a hidden corner of the lagoon that can be reached by motorboat from Chioggia or from Venice. We arrived on Pellestrina in the afternoon, just in time to have a memorable bicycle excursion finished with a breath-taking sunset. When we got back to the barge our dinner was ready and the crew was waiting outside with a long row of lighted candles which made us feel very special! I must admit, La Bella Vita lives up to its name.

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