22 July 2016
Can't wait to try out these new matte lipsticks
Need this bowl.
Oh my god, West Coast Harry Potter fans rejoice
Every country should do this.
Modcloth has released a bridal collection and it's beautiful AND affordable.
Six beautiful things you need on your desk right now.
This quiz can guess your gender, age and average income based on what apps are on your phone. It was spot on for me! Twenty somethings unmarried female making over 52k! What did you get?
Uhhhh wow. When this place opens up later this year it will deserve an entire blog post dedicated to just the food. I'm literally going to order everything. Every. Thing.
Labels: FRIDAY FINDS
20 July 2016
The Bread Is Not Free!
A lot of times, sitting down at an Italian restaurant you will be served water and a basket of bread. If you're from America, you probably assume this is free. It isn't. You will be charged something called coperto, which is essentially a cover charge or bread and butter charge as some call it. Even if you aren't served bread you can still be charged coperto simply as a "cover" for sitting down in the restaurant. These charges are not always easy to spot unless you're looking for them. They are generally around $2 per person. But if you're somewhere in say, Piazza San Marco like Caffe Florian, your cover charge includes a "live music" charge (even if you're sitting inside, unable to see) and totals to about $10 per person. If you're just one person, or perhaps a couple, this fee doesn't seem that bad. But for a group for 8 to 10 people, you could see how this charge could get out of control.
Come Hungry! There Are Lots Of Courses
I can not tell you how many weird looks my boyfriend and I were given when we sat down and ordered an appetizer and a small pizza to share. Italy is famous for it's slow dining experiences, sitting down for hours of indulgent food and wine, talking and laughing into the late hours of the night. Don't get me wrong, I love eating. I love food. But when we sat down next to locals and watched them order an appetizer for the table and then they each ordered their own pasta, meat dish AND PIZZA. We were blown away. Then they proceeded to all order dessert. Italians certainly have a thing or two to teach Americans about enjoying life, they really take their dining experiences to a whole different level.
Take Advantage of the Wine
Ordering wine when dining out at a restaurant in America can get expensive, but in Italy? So affordable. And so necessary. Here, I would probably pay about $8 to $10 on average for a glass of house wine. But in Italy? I found I was able to order a glass of house wine for about 3 Euros. And it's Italy, you're not really visiting Italy unless you drink the wine.
If It's Monday, Call Ahead
Something that we forgot on more than one occasion, is that many businesses and restaurants are closed on Mondays. Unfortunately, we would forget this little morsel of information and hop on the ferry to say Murano or Burano only to find the restaurant we spent an hour searching side streets for was closed. So, moral of the story. When making plans on a Monday - always call ahead.
Try A Cappuccino
I pretty much refuse to drink cappuccinos at home. It's just a tasteless lump of foam on top of a burnt shot of espresso usually. Obviously this isn't true everywhere. I live in Washington and Seattle's coffee game for the most part is pretty on point. But, I've found that a good cappuccino is a hard thing to come by. Not in Italy! Almost EVERYWHERE you go will serve cappuccino and pretty much at every hour. Even after dinner, they ask if you'd like a cup of coffee or cappuccino. Every morning I drank two, and then if I was feeling crazy - I had another after dinner. You hardly even need sugar. Italy knows how to do coffee. Coffee and food.
If It Looks American, It's Not Italian
We noticed that in a lot of more touristy areas there would be the random restaurant that would have a menu that was almost entirely pictures and almost entirely meals that you might see at a Denny's. There two reasons why you should steer clear of these places. The first being, it's not Italian fare. And it's not going to be what you're expecting. You can't go to Italy, order American food and expect it to taste just like American food. That's not how it works. You're in Italy, order Italian food. The second reason is this, it will be overpriced. Basically, if everything is in English, don't eat there. If the entire menu is pictures, don't eat there. If anything on the menu or in the title of the restaurant says "American", don't eat there.
01 July 2016
Navigating our from the airport through the maze of water taxis and canal boats to find Villa Lina was my first experience of Venice. And Italy all together for that matter. Needless to say, we were less than prepared. I didn't print out a map or even an address of where I was going because (having T-Mobile) I counted on cell coverage to use data. But of course, the one island that I was on had spotty service at best. We arrived late, even for Italy. Late and jet lagged, we wandered around the glowing backstreets hoping to happen upon Villa Lina. Because at least I remembered what the building looked like. After 30 minutes of that we decided it would be better to ask for directions. We spotted a mom and daughter eating ice cream and kicking around a soccer ball. And after some failed Italian and some silent prayers they were able to help.
I don't think I'll ever forget the sound of that little girl's laugh. She was recounting a story to her mom about a turtle (in Italian of course) while they walked us to Villa Lina. I wish I could have understood the whole story. She laughed almost the entire walk there. We rounded the last corner just as it began to grow dark. We said our first "ciao" to native Italians and they went on their way. Evi, the charming and gracious hostess of Villa Lina, greeted us at the end of the street. She led us through little doorways, showed us the skeleton keys we had to use. I was falling in love.
The building itself is beautiful. A pale pink that I've come to associate with Murano. Villa Lina is inside the skeleton of an old glass factory, which is just perfect and beautiful. As soon as we stepped onto the property all we could smell were flowers. That's one of my strongest memories about Murano. No matter where you went, everything smelled like a garden. The front yard sits right on the lagoon so you can watch the water taxis and locals float by every so often. The garden is lush, with a small lemon tree and an even smaller orange tree. There are two chairs at the edge of the property where you can sit and watch the sun set over Venice. It is a dream in the evening.
As for the interior, it was not at all what I expected. A clean, simple atmosphere with splashes of modern artwork and furniture. The mix of traditional and modern furnishings gives Villa Lina a unique character I haven't experienced before. I could not get over the stunning marble staircase.
TIP: When you see the shiny red couch in the living room that looks like it would be the least comfortable thing to sit on... sit on it. Once I sat on it, I fell in love and didn't want to move again.
The rooms are modest but accommodating. When we walked in everything was clean and bright. And the blue and white color scheme worked well with the whole "romantic Italian dream". We didn't have a view of the lagoon but I loved our Murano rooftop view just as much, if not more. I loved waking up to the sun just beginning to slip over the neighboring rooftop and spilling out onto the bed. We slept with the windows open and the shades drawn and when the sun rose, so did we. The mornings were hazy and beautiful. We stumbled still half asleep out onto the terrace and watched the sun settle over Venice.
TIP: Even though the armoire looks like it's just an armoire, there is actually a mini-fridge in there. So when you order farrrr too much food at dinner and want to take it home but think you don't have a refrigerator (like I did) - take it home. You have a refrigerator.
When you choose your seat on the terrace, Evi will come out like a breath of fresh air and offer you something to drink. I think I had about three cappuccinos each morning I was there, and to be honest I could have another right now. The breakfast selection is traditional Italian with Evi's own personal flair. There are the staples: fruit salad, cereals, yogurt, toast. And then of course a selection of meats, cheeses, cakes and pastries. The fresh croissants and cakes were delicious. And I don't know what it is about Italy but every single bit of yogurt we tried was amazing. Italy knows what's up with yogurt. Has anyone else experienced this??
But food aside, the terrace is something to speak of itself. Surrounded by flowers and shaded from direct sunlight until late morning. You can watch from afar as the city of Venice starts to breathe and come to life. Evi will check on you from time to time, generous and sweet as always. If you ask her, she will flood you with worthwhile suggestions and ideas for your stay.
Evi was a pleasure and a treat, and I nearly cried when she kissed me on the cheek the morning I checked out. She is such a sweet woman (like most of the people we encountered in Murano). If you give her the chance, she will mesmerize you with her suggestions and ideas for your time in Venice. Things to visit, places to eat, excursions to make. And she will give you a touching personal story for each. Right now, it is Evi, her friend and her husband who run Villa Lina. But her daughter is also returning to Venice to help turn Villa Lina into an event destination. She walked me through the remodeled guest utilities center downstairs near the garden. There is a full industrial kitchen, a bathroom and accommodations for a wedding or party. A large part of Villa Lina's charm comes from Evi herself. She will make you feel like family and you will never want to leave.
The islands of Venice are all so different, but Murano was definitely the perfect place for us to start. Slower than most of the other islands, you could walk Murano for hours and not get bored. Beautiful churches, amazing displays of Murano glass, and amazing food without a stampede of tourists. Sure, they're there. But in much smaller doses than in the heart of Venice. Murano is definitely a place for taking your time to enjoy the beauty around you. A place for eating slowly and quite literally stopping to smell the roses. It's a short canal ride to downtown Venice and the water taxi runs all night. We found this perfect for when we were jet lagged and trying to adjust. We could take an afternoon nap and head into Venice pretty late and still be able to get back to Murano at around 1am. Public transportation shuts down where I live at around 7pm, so this was a welcome change.
Rooms Starting at $112
Kayti VS the World was invited as a guest of the Villa Lina however, as always, all opinions are my own