Feb 152017
 

The Eolo sailing past Torcello and the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, a notable example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture. | Photo: Paolo Spigariol

“I want people to see the lagoon as I see it. So many people come to Venice and never really understand what is out here.” —Mauro Stoppa, host of the Eolo

As recommended by The New York Times, Saveur, Elle, The Herald Tribune, Travel & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, Tatler, The Daily Meal, Marie Claire, Gente Viaggi, Meridiani, Yacht Digest, Gala, Côté Sud, and other prominent publications.

Join our remarkable culinary tour of the city built on water and its lagoon islands. Our May 2017 tour is fully booked, but we are now offering these new dates:

2017 September 16-22

2018 June 2-8 | September 15-21

In addition, we can schedule customized tours for charter groups of 8-10 people for family reunions, intimate wedding parties, company trips, or other private occasions.

Selected Testimonials

“For centuries, the community’s livelihood revolved around the Arsenale, the shipyard that laid the foundation for Venice’s power, and today many residents still work as fishermen or in shipyards. There is a real attachment to the lagoon and the water beyond it…. Mauro Stoppa moved here to live … on his 52-foot “bragozzo,” one of the last surviving barges of its type, in order, he says, ‘to pay homage to the lagoon.’” —Marbella Caracciolo Chia, The New York Times

“John Ruskin once described this watery city as a ‘ghost upon the sands of the sea, so weak—so quiet–so bereft of all but her loveliness.’…. [153 years] later, he would be more likely to compare this packed tourist magnet to a shopping mall during the sales season than to a shadowy mirage…. But Ruskin’s Venice still exists…. Sitting on a historic fishing boat on a recent July evening, with the sun setting over the island of Torcello and the sound of the gull cries splitting the silence of the seemingly endless lagoon, a visitor might even get a sense of what the Victorian thinker was going on about….” —Elisabetta Povoledo, International Herald Tribune

“…[it] is a splendid vision of Venice past in Venice present…. [on the] … broad beamed fishing vessel that was bought and lovingly restored by a stocky, warm-hearted Venetian named Mauro Stoppa, who takes visitors to parts of Venice other boats do not normally reach…. It is a well-appointed pleasure boat and a fine floating restaurant.” —Condé Nast Traveller

“Out of the tiny galley kitchen emerge plates of squid marinated in balsamic vinegar and arranged with architectural precision among red berries and grapes. Next, a risotto of clams, tender and crunchy in all the right places. The pièce de resistance is the sea bass, flesh falling off the bone, baked with mushrooms and herbs, the latter grown on board. Finally, a helium-light chocolate dessert whipped up by Luigi Biasietto, one of the most famous pastry chefs in the Veneto region…. Finding food this good in the city of Venice would be no mean feat. Even Mauro’s wines – including a Piccolit from Enrico Gatti – would not look out of place on a Michelin-starred menu. Yet even as we salivate, we are transfixed by our watery surroundings. There is a sense that we are glimpsing a private world.…most visitors get no further than the number 12 vaporetto that ferries tourists northwards to the “big three” islands: Murano, Burano and Torcello. Mauro’s trips encompass the latter – he puts his guests up in a private villa there – but he also moors alongside Le Vignole and Sant’Erasmo. These are the market gardens of Venice; rarely visited islands where stagnant canals wind through vegetable gardens. Here…you’ll find Venetians tending the artichokes, aubergines and tomatoes that you later see on the stalls around the Rialto market.” —Rachel Spence, The Guardian

“Morning sightseeing is interrupted with a glass of sparkling prosecco and delicious deep-fried castrauri, tiny local artichokes…. In the galley Mauro stirs a huge frying pan of creamy risotto with courgettes cooked together with their yellow flowers, while in the oven the main dish might be a giant scorfano fish, slowly roasting on a bed of thinly sliced potatoes, or tiny wild ducks bought the day before from hunters on the lagoon, and delicately stuffed with foie gras.” —Orient Express

“Forget churches—Try the lagoon with a view…. A trip on the Eolo reveals a side of the lagoon few tourists – or residents such as myself who don’t possess their own boat – ever see…. Lunch aboard the Eolo is a tour de force. …We start with mussels steamed with white wine and the purple artichokes (castraure) that are a springtime speciality of Sant’Erasmo. Next comes the Venetian classic, risi and bisi (risotto with peas). But it’s the main course, a two-kilo bream cooked to flaking perfection, that wins a round of applause.…Not merely a sailing trip but… a fascinating [exploration] of local history and folklore, gourmet cooking lesson[s] in the galley… and … romantic meal[s] on deck. —Rachel Spencer, Financial Times

“The emphasis is on seasonal tastes, the freshness of the raw materials, and the simplicity of the cooking.”Gourmet Traveller, U.K.

“The adventurer inside you will be thrilled to travel through the northern lagoon and cook the fresh morning catch, while the tourist inside you will be pleased to spend your last few days exploring the famous landmarks in Venice both guided and on your own…. When eating on the sailboat, you will be able to cook the local cuisines right along with your hosts as hands-on lessons using some of the freshest ingredients of local products brought to you daily from the islands. You will be involved in every aspect from preparing to cooking the meals with professional guidance from della Croce and Stoppa.” —Bianca Bahamondes, The Daily Meal

“The Eolo is an undiscovered marvel. Many Venetians we spoke to had never heard of her…. We embark on the sleepy island of Le Vignole, then cruise to the sparsely populated isle of Mazzorbo. Soon we are in another world, far out into the lagoon, egrets and ibis our only company. Mauro and his crew set about preparing a four-course dinner as the sun sets; we eat on deck, the stars as our roof…. the food is wonderful: mussels with chilli, chocolate and fagiolini; seabass steamed with peaches and basil; watermelon gazpacho with pistachios.” —Marcus Sedgewick, Tatler

For Details, Itinerary, Reservations Information, Price, click here

To View a Video of the Eolo Under Sail, click here

The Grand Canal as seen from Ca’ Franchetti. | Photo: Paolo Destefanis for Veneto: Authentic Recipes From Venice and the Italian Northeast, by Julia della Croce

Jan 282017
 

The Eolo in the early morning light, sailing toward Torcello. Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta is in the background. | Photo: Copyright Paolo Spigariol

Last Call!

On May 15, 2017, our vessel, the Eolo, will shove off for a singular culinary and cultural tour of Venice and its lesser known islands. She is one of the few remaining purpose-built, flat-bottom boats left that were designed during the time of the doges to navigate this fabled city of 100 islands and 150 canals. Here is our itinerary, offering our guests an intimate experience for cruising by day, and first-rate accommodations in historic inns and hotels at night. We invite you to come on board for three days of island hopping, followed by three days of immersion in Venice proper. You will see how John Ruskin, upon seeing Venice could write,

I have never entered it with such wonder, nor left it with such regret. 

Read more about us heresee a new video about our tour, or go directly to the Eolo’s website for more information and press endorsements from prominent food and travel publications including The Herald Tribune (The New York Times), Saveur, Conde Nast Traveler, and the Financial Times.

Reserve by February 28.  Terms & Conditions below.

Mauro Stoppa, skipper and chef, on board his beloved Eolo. Photo: Photo: Paolo Destefanis for Veneto: Authentic Recipes From Venice and the Italian Northeast, by Julia della Croce (Chronicle Books)

Host Mauro Stoppa on board his beloved Eolo. | Credit: Paolo Destefanis for Veneto: Authentic Recipes From Venice and the Italian Northeast, by Julia della Croce

CRUISING VENICE, MAY 15-21, 2017

…it’s hard to blame people for getting excited when they eat risotto with sea asparagus—the Venetian “salicornia”—or grouper cooked in peaches with a Byzantine basilica as a backdrop.  —Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

  • See the glittering city on the sea only as natives can while sailing aboard the historic and beautifully restored Eolo, a flat-bottom “bragozzo” whose design goes back to the time of the Doges and is the only one of its size still navagating.
  • Experience the magic of the lagoon, its history and culture; natural life, music, and rich local traditions.
  • Explore the bucolic, lesser known islands by boat and on foot with our native guide.
  • Visit lace, glass, fabric, and food artisans who have been practicing their arts for generations.
  • Eat the genuine local cuisine while under sail and dine in the best restaurants of Venice.
  • Sleep in the islands’ charming inns and historic hotels.
  • Finish with a sojourn in Venice for 3 luxurious days in a magnificent private palace and immersion in the art, history, and culture of this spectacular city.
Experience the magic of the lagoon, its history and culture; natural life, music, and rich local traditions.

Experience the magic of the lagoon, its history, natural life, and rich local traditions. |Credit: http://www.cruisingvenice.com

Day 1

Mazzorbo and Burano

Locanda Venissa, Mazzorbo. Photo: Paolo Spigariol

The island of Mazzorbo and our lodgings, Locanda Venissa. | Credit: Paolo Spigariol

  • We will meet you upon your arrival at Venice Airport and take you by water taxi to the Venissa, a manor house-hotel and wine estate on its own bucolic island, Mazzorbo, top-rated by The New York Times, Michelin, and Travel + Leisure. The tiny, peaceful island, once an important trading center, is known today for its colorful houses, vineyards, and orchards. Settle in and eat a light lunch. After a rest, go for a guided walking tour to the nearby island of Burano, renowned for its lace making. You will have time to visit the artisans, do some shopping, or just stroll the ancient streets lined with colorful houses.
  • Return to Mazzorbo for a rest and dinner at the Venissa’s acclaimed inn and restaurant.

Venissa portico. | Credit: Paolo Spigariol

Day 2

Torcello and the northern Lagoon

The Eolo under full sail approach the fabled island of Torcello. | Photo: Paolo Spigariol

  • Breakfast at the Venissa, then board the Eolo and set sail for Torcello and the northern waters of the lagoon. The original site of Venice and famous haunt of Hemingway, the island has a rich and fascinating history. Visit its impressive Byzantine Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, built in 639 A.D., and the 11 th century octagonal church of Santa Fosca. Climb the bell tower for a bird’s eye view of the lagoon, and wander the island’s tranquil paths.
  • Board the Eolo again and set sail for a quiet canal in a nearby saltmarsh richly populated with birdlife and carpeted with colorful native flora. Anchor. Lunch on the chef’s freshly cooked specialties based on splendid produce and seafood of the lagoon.
C, 09 23_0218 copy

Flamingoes in an estuary of the lagoon.| Credit: http://www.cruisingvenice.com

  • Set sail for the pristine northern lagoon where thousands of flamingoes can be seen flying over the saltmarsh to join other wild fowl that inhabit the islands nearby.
  • Sail to the Locanda alle Porte 1632 at sunset for dinner and an overnight stay. Constructed in 1632 between the lagoon and the Sile River, the building, once the customs house, controlled the entrance into the Grand Canal. There, Venetian officials collected taxes from both residents and foreigners doing business in Venice. Today it is an inn and a restaurant. Sunset dinner and overnight stay.
16 008_0129 (1) copy

Inside the Locanda alle Porte 1632. |Credit: http://www.cruisingvenice.com

Day 3

Lazzaretto Nuovo and Malamocco

Venetian mask representing the doctor of the plague.

Venetian carnival mask originating from the quarantine representing the doctor of the black plague. Vinegar-soaked cloth was wrapped on the face and covered with the long-nosed mask to avoid the infection.|Credit: http://www.cruisingvenice.com

  • Breakfast at the Locanda alle Porte 1632.
  • Board the Eolo. After local fishermen deliver their early morning catch to our boat, we set sail. Mauro and Julia will prepare lunch from what the lagoon has offered this morning.
Mauro teaches how to stuff zucchini blossoms on board the Eolo. Photo: Paolo Spigariol

Mauro shows how to stuff zucchini blossoms on-board the Eolo. | Credit: Paolo Spigariol

  • Drop anchor near the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo, which once serve as a quarantine facility. Venice appears in the distance. Lunch on board.
  • Disembark on the island and find remarkable evidence of inhabitants who lived here well before the Romans. During the Middle Ages it was used solely as a place to quarantine goods and sailors for a period of time before they could enter Venice as a precaution against the spread of disease. Talk to local mask makers to learn about the origins of their craft. This is where the Venetian mask originated, elaborate cloth cover-ups soaked with vinegar to ward off disease. Today, the island is a beautiful and and peaceful respite.
  • Board the Eolo again and set sail for the ancient village of Malamocco. Dinner and overnight accommodations in a beautiful 14th entry villa, Ca’ del Borgo.

The Eolo under sail in the lagoon. |Credit:

Day 4

Chioggia and Venice

  • Breakfast at Ca’ del Borgo.
  • Set sail for Chioggia and take a guided tour of the old port, considered a “little Venice.” See the vibrant fish market, where Mauro will buy the ingredients for our lunch. Stop at the grain store, dating to 1322, one of the most important historic buildings on the island. Visit the island’s Duomo with its masterpieces by Tiepolo, Carpaccio, and Tintoretto.

Fishmonger, Chioggia. | Photo: Julia della Croce

  • Leave Chioggia for Valle Zappa, a remote island that was once a private hunting and fishing area where you will find a unique example of  “mirror architecture.”
  • Lunch under sail. The bell towers of San Marco, which once guided ships into the port of entry, will appear in the distance.
  • Disembark in Venice. Transfer by water taxi to Palazzetto Pisani Ferri, a magnificent private 15th century palace in Piazza Santo Stefano overlooking the Grand Canal, Palazzo Barbarigo, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Accademia Bridge. It is still inhabited by descendants of the wealthy merchants who built it. Spend 3 nights in a suite facing the Canal with a private living room and bathroom.
  • Dinner on your own. Recommendations for Venice’s most authentic and famous restaurants are for the asking.
Last night in Venice: THe Palazetto Pisani. | Photo: Courtesy of Palazetto Pisani

Our accommodations in Venice: The Palazzetto Pisani. | Credit: Palazzetto Pisani

Day 5

Venice

On our walking tour of Venice. | Photo: Julia della Croce/Forktales

On our walking tour of Venice. | Credit: Julia della Croce/Forktales

  • Follow your guide through the famous Mercato di Rialto with its beautiful vegetable and fruit stalls and colorful fishmongers. The famous market was once the trade and financial center of Venice. Wander your way through an intricate maze of narrow alleys, bridges and canals to Bevilacqua Textiles. Established by Luigi Bevilacqua c. 1499, it continues the city’s ancient tradition of weaving velvets, brocades and damasks by hand.
  • Lunch in an acclaimed vegetarian restaurant nearby.
  • Conclude your day with immersion in the city’s culture, including a stop at the imposing Gothic Frari church with its precious treasures, including The Assumption, the first public commission for a young Titian who would become the most important artist working in Venice. Also see the exquisite Madonnas by Giovanni Bellini and Paolo Veneziano, and Titian’s burial monument.
  • Dinner on your own. Recommendations for Venice’s most authentic and famous restaurants are for the asking.

Day 6

Venice

Piazza San Marco. | Photo: Greg Mitchell

Piazza San Marco. | Credit: Greg Mitchell

  • Go with our guide to St. Mark’s Square, once the political and social nerve center of Venice’s wealth and power. See the city’s most iconic buildings and learn about their origins and history. Start off the visit at the Doge’s Palace with its perfectly preserved magnificent facade and interior. Adjacent is the opulent St. Mark’s Basilica. With its nearly 90,000 square feet of gold mosaics and precious oriental marbles, it is considered one of the best examples of Italian-Byzantine architecture.
  • Lunch in a bacaro, a typical wine bar that serves “cichetti,” Venice’s answer to tapas.
  • Free afternoon for exploring or shopping.
  • Farewell dinner at the palace for a last taste of authentic Venice.

Day 7

Depart Venice

Farewell and thank you from the Eolo. | Credit: Paolo Destefanis

  • Airport transfer by water taxi.

Rates and Particulars:

  • 3,950 Euros per person including accommodations as detailed, breakfasts, lunches and dinners as described, private visits as per itinerary, all entrance fees, cooking class on board the Eolo, the service of your tour guide(s). Rates based on double occupancy; 20% more for single occupancy.
  • 10% deposit upon reservation, refunded if the minimum of 6 guests is not reached.
  • 40% upon confirmation, the balance 30 days before departure.
  • Minimum 6 guests. Maximum, 12 guests.
  • Possible extension of a stay at Palazzetto Pisani Ferri, Euro 300 per couple per night.

Not Included

  • Flights, travel insurance, items of personal expenditure (e.g. telephone calls, laundry etc.), discretionary gratuities to boatmen and guides, government levies or taxes introduced after publication of this program (July 7, 2017).
  • Please note that if circumstances beyond our control necessitates some alteration to the itinerary shown, you will be notified of any such changes as soon as possible. 
  • To be sustainable, a minimum of 6 guests is required; maximum 12 guests.
  • Payment terms: 10% to confirm your reservation; 40% when 6 reservations are booked; balance due 30 days before departure.

Contact

  • For more complete information, visit our earlier Forktales post.
  • Questions? Email julia@juliadellacroce.com
  • To book, please email info@cruisingvenice.com
Winner of the 2004 World Gourmand Awards.

Julia della Croce’s Veneto: Authentic recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast, with photography by Paolo Destefanis (Chronicle Books) won the 2004 World Gourmand Awards.

“Everyone knows Venice, but the Venetian cuisine has been somewhat of a hidden treasure. Rich in the use of unique spices left from its Serenissa years, the cuisine sparkles with surprise. Julia della Croce [in her book, Veneto]…has captured wonderfully [its] nuances and sparkle of this regional cuisine.” —Lidia Bastianich

Julia della Croce has been immersed since birth in the tastes and aromas of the Italian cooking she loves. After becoming disenchanted with a political career, she began cooking in the galley of a 50-foot sailing ketch for paying passengers. She is a journalist, and James Beard award-winning cook book author and cooking teacher. Among her thirteen titles, is Veneto: Authentic Recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast (Chronicle Books), winner of the 2004 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. She writes about the culture of food and drink for Zester Daily and in this blog, and is a noted authority on the food of Italy.

Mauro Stoppa was born and raised on his family’s farm in a small village near Padua on the southern edge of the Venetian archipelago. He is an agronomist by education but his first love was always the world of the lagoon. In 1998, he pulled up his land roots and bought and restored the Eolo, a vintage bragozzo named after the Greek god of the wind, a flat-bottomed 52-foot fishing barge that is one of the last of its kind. There and then, he decided to fulfill his lifetime dream of living on the sea and to devote himself to the restoration of the Venetian waterways. Stoppa takes small groups on cruises to sail, eat his sublime food, and experience the magic of Venice and the lagoon he loves, a venture featured in the New York Times.

with Mauro at Met

Mauro lands in NYC to cook for a private party at Sotheby’s, bringing his own ingredients with him from Venice. We met at the Met for some down time. | Credit: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales

Jan 232017
 
Sail, Eat, Sleep Venice: Preview Our Video Now

Our culinary tour this Spring will take you to the undiscovered side of Venice that the typical traveler rarely sees. Even if you’ve been there before, you’ve probably never experienced this “most secretive of cities,” to quote author Victor Hazan, who with his wife, Marcella, ran a cooking school there for many years. That’s because it is a city of more than 100 small islands in a lagoon separated from the Adriatic Sea that cannot be reached by foot, but only by canals. To experience Venice behind its touristic facade, you have to get on a boat built to navigate the shallow waters […more…]

Jan 232017
 

We’re some four months away from my upcoming culinary tour to Italy, immersion in Venice and its lagoon. For those of you who are new to my blog, my new venture will take you to the undiscovered side of Venice that the typical tourist never sees. Even if you’ve been there before, you’ve probably never experienced this “most secretive of cities,” to quote author Victor Hazan, who with his wife, Marcella, ran a cooking school there for many years. That’s because it is a city built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon separated from the Adriatic Sea that cannot […more…]

Oct 102016
 
Undiscovered Venice May 15-21: Glide Away With Me

A marvelous program, a priceless exploration of some of the secrets of this most secretive of cities. I wish I were fit and free enough to jump aboard. —Victor Hazan Victor Hazan, who lived in Venice with Marcella, his wife and Italian cookbook legend, knows: Few outsiders ever get to see the real Venice.  You have to get off the tourist route and even off the map to seek out the city’s nooks and crannies, her hidden waterways and odd corners. Along with native Venetian Mauro Stoppa, our host and skipper, I will take you there, fork in hand. Now you can […more…]

Jun 302016
 
Tour Unknown Venice with Me: Sign Up for Our May, 2017 Culinary Cruise!

Almost in the very middle of this little sea, enclosed between the water and the sky, lies Venice, a fairy vision, risen as if by miracle out of the water that surrounds it and like green shining ribbons, cuts through its beautiful body. So wrote Giulio Lorenzetti, in his famous 1926 guidebook, Venice and its Lagoon: A Historical and Artistic Guide (updated in 1994 and still the most authoritative source). Yet there it is, the ancient “Serenissima,” a glittering city decorated with gold, arising out of the lagoon, firm and fixed. We can barely grasp how architects could have imagined its plan and […more…]