Venice in November – Acqua Alta Risk?

Acqua Alta

We are visiting the end of November, which is at the height of the Acqua Alta (or high water) season.  A last-minute change in our trip plans this year and work schedule conflicts led to us scheduling our Italy trip later than we’d normally go.  Despite the weather risk, we are confident we’ll still have a great trip after doing some research.  Let me explain…

Acqua Alta

Graph created using data from City of Venice

The graph above is scary for a November Venice visitor.  Since 1872, one third of all Acqua Alta events (defined as tides 110 cm above sea level, effectively flooding 14% of the city, and most visibly, St. Mark’s Square) have occurred in the month of November.  Over time, due to subsidence and human modifications to the natural environment, the frequency of events has increased.  In recent history (since 1966), Acqua Alta events occur about 4 times each year.  What the graph and pictures don’t show you, however, is that Acqua Alta events are actually fairly short in duration.  A similar graph to the one above on the City of Venice website shows that Acqua Alta events occur predominately in the morning, between 8am and noon.  The actual time where flooding occurs is driven by the tide cycles.  As seen in the graph below, showing the tide cycles over 3 days, the peaks span at most 4 hours.  So, at worst, an aqua alta event will impact a morning.  It’s also important to remember that the Acqua Alta events are driven by astronomical reasons, not meteorological.  Just because the water is high, doesn’t mean it’s raining.

Venice Tide ChartThe final thing we uncovered in our research that made us comfortable visiting Venice in November is the amount of resources the city invests in preparing for Acqua Alta.  In addition to a dedicated monitoring and warning department, the city also erects elevated platforms along main streets to allow people to walk above the water.  The vaporetto water buses continue to operate and many hotels we looked at provide water boots for guests.

In addition to reading about Acqua Alta, we also took a look at the historic weather trends for late November. is a great resource for pulling weather statistics by date.  For this trip, I built a quick Excel spreadsheet to summarize the temperature trends, chance of precipitation, and chance of “heavy rain”.  For our time period of interest, I obtained the following results:

Avg. Low Avg. High Any Precipitation “Rain”/”Heavy Rain”
40 51 17% 2%

We felt very comfortable with the results.  We can mitigate cold temperatures with warmer clothing, and a 2% chance of heavy precipitation doesn’t seem unreasonable compared to what we’d expect at any place anytime of the year.

After addressing the weather risk, we became extremely excited to visit in the off-season.  Visitors are often turned-off by the extreme crowds in Venice.  We last visited in early September, and although very crowded, we still enjoyed ourselves and found seclusion in the city late at night.  However, in late November, we are expecting solitude even in the daylight hours.  According to statistics from the Veneto Region government used to construct the graph below, November is nearly tied with December and January for the lowest nights spent by tourists in Venice per month.  Relative to when we last visited September, there will be almost as little as a third of the people visiting Venice.  Meanwhile, unlike more rural destinations or seasonal destinations, Venice will be completely open for business in November.  All of the hotel and restaurant options we’ve looked at are open.

Nights Spent in Veneto by Month

We were able to use online resources to effectively address our concerns about weather in Venice in November.  We are looking forward to a very romantic visit and an opportunity to see one of our favorite cities with far fewer crowds.

Food Run-Down: Venice, Italy 2009

After a lost food notebook scare (from our Portugal and Spain trip), I’ve decided to start digitally documenting the meals enjoyed during our travels.  These posts won’t be too detailed, but I will include where we ate, what we ordered (and some pictures), how much it cost, and an overall comment on the food/restaurant.  I’m starting at the beginning with Venice 2009 and will work my way through London 2012.  So, without further ado: Venice!

With a few exceptions, our food choices in Venice focused on anything from the sea. Since it was a first trip to Italy for the both of us, we also made sure to try pasta and pizza, the Italian staples here in the US.  Nothing we had was disappointing and after this trip we have continued dreamt of the Venetian cuisine.

One tip I’ve recently read is to visit the morning fish market to see what’s for sale – that will give you an idea of what is fresh from that day when you are ordering fish later that night for dinner.  I didn’t even think of that on this trip, so I stuck to whatever sounded delicious (and it never led me astray). 

Meal: Dinner at Trattoria Povoledo (Sept. 4, 2009)

  • What we ordered:
    (1) Collalto Chardonnay – €20
    (2) Spaghetti ai frutti di mare (seafood pasta) – €15
    (3) Prosciutto pizza – €12

Trattoria Povoledo, Venice, Italy

  • Price: $$ – not bad for a (presumably) touristy restaurant right on the Grand Canal.
  • Overall thoughts: I was so happy with our first meal in Italy.  Yes, it was on the Grand Canal, so while it may have been a touristy place, the prices were reasonable and the food was fresh and light.  My seafood pasta was delicious (the spaghetti was cooked al dente, perfection!) and Ryan’s pizza was so good that I wanted to order pizza the next day (I used to eat pizza very rarely, so this was a big deal!).  The view was also a huge plus.  We had just arrived in Venice, so it was my chance to admire the Grand Canal for the first time.

Meal: Lunch at Trattoria Locanda al Raspo de Ua in Burano, Venice, Italy (Sept. 5, 2009)

  • What we ordered:
    (1) half liter of Prosecco – €4.50
    (2) steamed mussels with lemon
    (3) Frutti di mare pizza

Trattoria Locanda Al Raspo de Ua, Burano, Venice, Italy

  • Price: $$ – the total bill was right around €25, and we left about €2-3 for the tip.
  • Overall thoughts: A great choice for lunch in Burano.  It was very crowded, but we were able to sit right away and didn’t have to wait long for our food.  The mussels were delicious (especially with extra lemon juice squeezed on top) and the seafood pizza was very unique, but tasty!  I would definitely consider revisiting on another trip to Burano.

Meal: Snacks in Venice (Sept. 4 & 5, 2009)

  • What we ordered:
    (1) gelato
    (2) panini
    (3) cappucino

Snacks in Venice, Italy

  • Price: $ 
  • Overall thoughts: the gelato was creamy and rich everywhere, and the flavors were inventive compared to the standard ice cream shops in the US.  I’d maybe skip the sandwiches, which were just okay (were sold just off of Piazza San Marco and were €4 each).  The cappuccino stop provided a quick rest during the busy day, and it’s something we should have made time for more than just once!

Meal: Dinner at Alle Testiere (Sept. 5, 2009)

  • What we ordered:
    (1) mixed seafood appetizer from the Adriatic Sea (with lobster, cuttlefish, shrimp, octopus, spider crab, anchovy, baby calamari, and a toasted baguette topped with a mixture of cod, milk, vegetable oil and garlic) – €18
    (2) Sea bream fillets with fine herbs and citrus sauce – €25
    (3) Prawns with coriander, ginger, and lime sauce (it was also served with polenta, which was a pleasant surprise!) – €25
    (4) bottle of chardonnay – €24

    Alle Testiere, Venice, Italy

  • Price: $$$$ – the bill came to €95 for one shared appetizer, two entrees (€25 each), a bottle of wine, and a bottle of water. 
  • Overall thoughts: absolutely fantastic.  This is the type of restaurant I wish we were always able to find.  We were extremely lucky – we were looking for a different place and stumbled upon Alle Testiere around 10:00pm.  Unfortunately, they had a limited menu, but they agreed to sit us at the one free table.  We later found out that they have two seatings for dinner and we were about 45 minutes late for the second one. Even with the limited menu (no pasta), the meal exceeded our expectations.  The appetizer started a continuing trend of ordering mixed appetizers featuring specials from the area (it also began my love for cuttlefish).  A great find, and a restaurant I will track down again the next time I’m in Venice.

Meal: Breakfast at Al Doge Beato Hotel (Sept. 6, 2009)

  • Included: croissants, rolls, butter, jam, nutella, juice, and tea
  • Overall thoughts: it was great to have the breakfast included in the hotel.  We missed it our first morning because we were out and about so early.  It was much better than paying €5+ for a smaller croissant and a bottle of juice! 

Breakfast in Venice

 Meal: Lunch at Hostaria Galileo (Sept. 6, 2009)

What we ordered:
(1) half liter of house white wine – €8
(2) tagliatelle with shrimp and zucchini – about €12
(3) fried calamari – about €12

Hostaria Galieo, Venice, Italy

  • Price: $$ – a bit expensive for small portions, but it wasn’t bad.
  • Overall thoughts: the food was delicious and the are was tucked away from the main tourist route.  

Meal: Dinner at Hotel Principe (Sept. 6, 2009) – the engagement dinner!

  • What we ordered:
    (1) bottle of Prosecco
    (2) sliced raw fish seasoned with oil and Sicilian citrus fruits
    (3) pappardelle du funghi porcini (pappardelle with porcini mushrooms)
    (4) riccioli di grano duro con asparagi di bassano capesante nostrane (homemade pasta with scallops and asparagus) 
    (5) tortino caldo al cioccolato con crema alla vaniglia (warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream)

Hotel Principe, Venice, Italy

  • Price: $$-$$$: I didn’t write down pricing information, but made some guesses in my notes (maybe around €15 for the appetizer and each entree).  
  • Overall thoughts: Another great view, if you aren’t trying to stay away from restaurants on the Grand Canal.  I think the raw fish appetizer was salmon, and it was fresh and tart (from the citrus).  It satisfied my “sushi craving” during the Italy portion of our trip!  The homemade pastas surpassed my expectations and the unusual combinations (scallops and asparagus!) played with our tastebuds.  It was a great way to celebrate our engagement!

Our next trip to Venice will feature similar foods (fresh seafood being the main objective), but more attention will be paid to choosing the restaurants.  I wish I had a better memory of my thoughts on the food, but luckily my journal provided some insight and brought me back to Venice for a few moments.  My stomach cannot wait to get back to Venice to experience some of the best seafood and pastas that it has ever tasted!

From There to Here

As a non-journaling scrapbooker, I find that transition pages help me tell the story of a trip.  I don’t always remember to take pictures during the travel time and sometimes the trips are short or uneventful, but when I do, I’m always happy to include them as part of my scrapbook.  It’s a seamless transition from one city to the next and serves as an introduction to the following pages.

Ryan and I traveled by train from each city to the next on our first overseas trip together.  Each leg took about 6 hours and the journeys began early in the morning (all before 7).  Like us, you may be spending quite a bit of time traveling from city to city, so why not memorialize it?  The saddness of the goodbye, the anticipation of the next city, and the excitement upon finally arriving are all priceless memories to keep in your scrapbook.

As I mentioned above, if I have the pictures, I like to use the travel between cities as a transition from one section of my scrapbook to the next.  These are some of the easiest pages for me to create; I keep them fairly simple since they are just my “in between” pages.  Below I’ve included my transportation pages from our Italy and France trip in 2009.  Please excuse my first attempt at scanning my pages (unfortunately the machine cut off a bit from the bottom) and enjoy!

1. Arrivederci Venice, Ciao Cinque Terre.  The titles on each side were the most time consuming part of the page.  I used my Cricut machine to cut out the squares (both the blue outer squares and the tan inner squares), so that saved me from doing too much manual labor.  The early morning shot of the Grand Canal is one of my favorites from Venice – I’m glad we took a few minutes to snap some pictures and say goodbye to our first stop in Italy. Venice to Vernazza, Italy, Scrapbook

2. Leaving Vernazza & Arriving Nice.  This page was the easiest of the three.  A simple border around each picture was enough because I chose detailed vellum paper as the background for each side (although it’s hard to tell in the scanned pages).  I love the juxtaposition of peaceful and slow Vernazza with the high-tech train station in Nice.  It was a whole different world, located on a different part of the Mediterranean Sea.Vernazza to Nice, Italy, France, Scrapbook

3. The high-speed train from Nice to Paris.  I like to use anything other than pictures when possible to mix up the pages.  I try to save all tickets, receipts, business cards, etc. in case they work with a scrapbooking page (or help me remember something when I’m wrapping up my journal).  I love this spread because the paper I found was perfect – the background for the Nice side is a map of France and the background of the Paris side has a repeating pattern of the Eiffel Tower and a fleur-de-lis.  However, my favorite part is the repeating “Paris” title.

Nice to Paris, France, Scrapbook

Next time you’re traveling in between stops on your trip, don’t forget to take some pictures and save tickets or other memorabilia to document the transitions.  Not only is it fun to memorialize your last and first moments of a city, but the pages serve as the perfect segue to the next destination!

Drinking with a View

Whether we’re abroad or in our own city of Bakersfield, Ryan and I love to sip drinks and eat snacks while taking in a view.  I received an email this morning from Fodor’s with a link to an article about the 10 best hotel bars with a view in Europe.  It’s great timing because we’ll be visiting three of the cities this fall!

In Lisbon, the article recommends the BA Terrace at the Bairro Alto Hotel.  This was already on my radar after reading about it in a Trip Advisor forum post.  Since our Lisbon itinerary is fairly relaxed (we plan to do a lot of exploring in the different neighborhoods), there will hopefully be time for us to visit this bar and enjoy the fantastic view!

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2009 Europe Scrapbook: Colors and Creations

The following scrapbooking layouts are some examples where I was inspired by something – colors, an object, an idea.  Our trip to Italy and France brought us to so many different cities and sights, and as I put together my scrapbook, I wanted to incorporate as much of their unique qualities as possible.  Enjoy! 

On colors: In the first two scrapbooking layouts (Burano and Vernazza), the brightly-colored paper choices were influenced by the colorful buildings seen throughout the towns. 

The only “side trip” we took from Venice was to the nearby island of Burano, known for colorful buildings and delicate lacework.  The other option we considered was Murano (known for the glass blowing), but we opted to go to the less popular, slightly further island of Burano.  We spent our time wandering through the empty streets, admiring the colorful houses, and shopping in the many lace and souvenir shops.  I wanted to capture the fun, colorful aspect of the town in my scrapbooking page for Burano.  

SuitcaseJournal: Houses of Burano, Venice, Italy

Taken on our visit to Burano, Italy. A nice break from the crowded island of Venice!

SuitcaseJournal: Burano, Venice, Italy by Kristin

Vernazza was our home base for the three nights we stayed in Cinque Terre (the other four fishing villages in Cinque Terre are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, and Monterosso al Mare – we spent at least a little bit of time in each).  All five fishing villages are known for their colorful buildings.  I wanted to construct the Vernazza scrapbooking page by capturing the dominating salmon and yellow colors of the buildings and the beautiful aqua of the Mediterranean. 

SuitcaseJournal: Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

A picture taken on our hike from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare.

SuitcaseJournal: Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy by Kristin

On creations: In Nice, we stayed at the Mercure hotel, which was separated from the Mediterranean only by the Promenade des Anglais.  This wide promenade was perfect for strolling throughout the day and one of our favorite routes to travel to different parts of the city.  I decided to recreate the look of the promenade by using gray paper for the aspahlt and white ribbon for the line separating the two sides.  While it isn’t a super accurate depiction, it’s a fun way to decorate this scrapbooking page!

SuitcaseJournal: Promenade des Anglais by Kristin

SuitcaseJournal: Close up of Promenade des Anglais scrapbooking page, made by Kristin

A closeup of the paper-and-ribbon Promenade des Anglais.

Finally, one of the last pages I completed for the Europe 2009 scrapbook was the Montmartre page, in Paris, France.  I wasn’t feeling terribly inspired, however I loved the Montmartre area and wanted to include the pictures and memories from that time on our trip.  I had a thought of using a chevron design for the background, but couldn’t find anything that fit what I was looking for.  So, I decided to make my own background.  I love this because it’s something anyone can do – I used a ruler, a pencil, and scissors.  No special scrapbooking tools.  Best of all, I was able to choose the colors and exactly how I wanted the design laid out on the page.

SuitcaseJournal: Montmartre, Paris, France by Kristin

I don’t always have a great idea or use the colors of the photos to influence my pages, but when I do, I generally love the results! My favorite of the above layouts is probably the Vernazza page – the layout is clean and those colors look fabulous together.