May 282018
 

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

So said the Italian journalist who has been writing about Italy for The New York Times and its affiliates for a quarter century, covering everything from Italian governments to popes to Rome’s feral cats. She knows that our culinary and cultural cruise on a traditional Venetian boat is the real thing—an exploration of insider’s hidden city and its archipelago, its natural and cultural life. Venice and its lagoon islands were proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, yet few travelers ever see it. Its shallow waters must be navigated by flat-bottom boat built for the labyrinth of 200 canals and 180 islands by sailors who know its networks intimately. The Eolo, a 52-foot traditional restored bragozzo, fishing vessel, is such a boat and our Venetian host Mauro Stoppa is such a sailor.

Raising the Eolo’s sail on the Venetian lagoon.

One of our passengers lends a hand with the day’s delivery.

If you think you’ve already seen Venice, think again. Have you watched a cloud of flamingoes drift over a lagoon as clear as glass? Have you found your way to the island where the quarantine was invented in the 16th century, resulting in the salvation of Venice’s population during the plague? Have you lunched on board a historic sailing vessel at anchor, eating deliciously prepared sea bass delivered boat-side by the fishermen—so fresh, it tastes like it just leapt into your plate?

Or violet artichokes grown on an island nearby, a Byzantine cathedral as a backdrop? Have you ever had a cooking lesson in a ship’s galley from Venetian cooks who show you how to prepare authentic local delicacies? Have you visited the workshop of Venetian craftsmen whose forebears have been weaving exquisite fabrics that have clothed royalty and potentates for four centuries? Have you walked the backstreets and alleys of Venice with its colorful local life and floating vegetable markets? Do you know the authentic Venetian restaurants where the locals go to dine? Come with us, we’ll take you there. With one crew member for every two guests, you will sail in comfort and ease, helping to raise and lower the sails, if you like. With native guides at every stop, you’ll see not only the most famous sights, but also be drawn into a very private Venice that exists behind the spectacle.

Our guests learn to cook Venetian fare in the galley.

We’re now taking reservations for up to ten guests for our September 15-21 sail. Each time we tour, we make a new plan: chart a course for an island our guests haven’t seen before, choose another of Venice’s charming historic inns, vary the menu based on the catch of the day and the harvest of the season, or plot a different route on our walking tours. Find the day-by-day details and overall itinerary here:

2018 VENICE BY BOAT

Culinary Sailing Cruises of Venice and its Lagoon

June 2-8 and September 15-21, 2018

Itinerary

Day 1 — Meet on the island of Certosa at 3 p.m. (time to be confirmed once we know each person’s travel details). Transfer by private water taxi to Mazzorbo and the Venissa Hotel, a former convent and wine estate on its own bucolic island, top-rated by The New York Times, Michelin, and Travel + Leisure. After settling into our rooms, meet our native Buranese guide for a walking tour of Mazzorbo and Burano, two enchanting islands joined together by a pedestrian bridge. Overnight and a splendid dinner at the Venissa.

A magical first night at the Venissa inn and restaurant on Mazzorbo.

Day 2 — After breakfast, Mauro guides the Eolo to the front door of the Venissa and we board. Our first stop is the National Archeological Museum of Altino on the site of the original settlement of Venice. Private tour of the museum, a repository of relics and artifacts related to the history of Venice and its lagoon. Return to the Eolo for lunch, followed by a visit and guided tour of the island of Torcello, where subsequent foundations of Venice were laid 1,000 years ago. Reboard and shove off for Cavallino and the historic Locanda alle Porte 1632 inn and restaurant, once Venice’s customs house. Dinner in a private, typical “bilancia” or “trabuch,” a historic fisherman’s hut suspended over the water. The seafood served is the owner’s catch of the day. Overnight at the locanda.

Enter the warm and welcoming Locanda alle Porte 1632.

Day 3 — After breakfast, board the Eolo and head for the southern lagoon and the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo, where all ships, their cargo and passengers were quarantined during the times of the bubonic plague before being permitted entry to the main island of Venice. Guided tour by archeologists working on the excavation. Our next stop is Mazzorbo, a charming village on the Lido. Settle into our hotel accommodations at Ca’ Alberti, a restored 14th century villa. Meet for dinner at a typical trattoria near our hotel.

The chief archeologist at Lazaretto Nuovo explains the island’s strange history.

Day 4 — Breakfast at Ca’ Alberti, then reboard the Eolo. Sail for the island of Valle Zappa, a unique wildlife sanctuary and the site of a spectacular villa in the Austrian style. From here we are privy to the most beautiful views of the lagoon. Guided visit followed by lunch at anchor. Transfer by private water taxi to Venice proper at about 5 p.m. Arrive at our accommodations at Palazzo Morosini degli Spezieri, a beautifully renovated historic palace overlooking a colorful piazza near the famous Rialto pedestrian bridge and market. Explore Venice and eat dinner on your own.

Our host and galley cook, Mauro Stoppa, serves freshly caught roasted sea bass for lunch.

Days 5-7 — Remain in Venice proper. Breakfast before Laura Sabbadin, our native guide, collects us for unique walking tours of the famous sites, fascinating backstreets, and hidden treasures unknown to most tourists.

At the historic Bevilacqua weaver with our native guide, Laura Sabbadin.

Day 6 — Farewell dinner in Venice with Mauro, Julia and all guests.

Veni etiam, come again!

Day 7 —Breakfast at our hotel and guest departures from there.

Arrivederci, Venezia, a presto—see you again soon.

Rates and Particulars:

  • 4,600 Euros per person including accommodations as detailed, breakfasts, lunches and dinners as described, private visits as per itinerary, all entrance fees, cooking lessons on board the Eolo at your discretion, 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, 10 guests.

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 (May 27, 2018).
  • Please note that if circumstances beyond our control necessitate some alteration to the itinerary shown, you will be notified of any such changes as soon as possible.

Contact: For more information and reservations: Write to Mauro Stoppa at the following email address info@cruisingvenice.com or email me with any questions you might have.

On the Eolo’s autumn cruise with Mauro.

Photographs copyright Nathan Hoyt/Forktales 2018

 

May 092018
 

Forget churches—try the lagoon with a view.  A trip on the Eolo reveals a side of [Venice] few tourists ever see. . . . It’s a fascinating exploration of local history and folklore, gourmet cooking lessons in the galley and romantic meals on deck. —Rachel Spencer, Financial Times

While we make plans to launch our 2018 harvest tours of the Venetian lagoon, host Mauro Stoppa has been busy getting the Eolo ready for the sail. Anyone who has hung around marinas knows that that means having your boat in dry-dock for barnacle scraping, repair and maintenance after the previous sailing season’s wear and tear. In our case, it means serious, loving restoration. Not only is this historic fishing boat an antique, it’s also Mauro’s pride, joy, and floating home. It transports our guests on a discovery of a most private and relatively unknown Venice that few besides native Venetians experience. Because we’re all about slow travel, slow food, and an insider’s Italy, we thought you’d like to see what happens in our off-season.

The Eolo and her crew on our last sail, autumn 2017. Photo: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales 2017

The Eolo in dry-dock.

The work begins.

Marine carpenters at their ancient trade.

New gunwales.

Paint removed and wood rot repaired on the hull.

We won’t say “good as new” because she just might be better than new. Glide away with us for a “slow” journey in and around Venice unlike any other you’ll find. September 15-21, 2018 (PS Two spots are still available on our June 2-8 tour). Price and itinerary details below. Video of the Eolo under sail here.

With Mauro on board, last autumn. Photo: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales 2017

With some of our guests on our recent autumn, tour. Photo: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales 2017

2018 VENICE BY BOAT

Culinary Sailing Cruises of Venice and its Lagoon

June 2-8 and September 15-21, 2018

Itinerary

Day 1 — Meet on the island of Certosa a 3 p.m. (to be confirmed once we know each person’s travel details). Transfer by private water taxi to Mazzorbo and the Venissa Hotel, a former convent and wine estate on its own bucolic island, top-rated by The New York Times, Michelin, and Travel + Leisure. After settling into our rooms, meet our native guide for a walking tour of Mazzorbo and Burano, two enchanting islands joined together by a pedestrian bridge. Overnight and a splendid dinner at the Venissa.

Day 2 — After breakfast, Mauro meets us at the front door of the Venissa and we board the Eolo. Our first stop is the National Archeological Museum of Altino on the site of the original settlement of Venice. Private tour of the museum, a repository of relics and artifacts related to the history of Venice and its lagoon. Return to the Eolo for lunch, followed by a visit and guided tour of the island of Torcello, where subsequent foundations of Venice were laid 1,000 years ago. Reboard and shove off for Cavallino and the historic Locanda delle Porte 1632, once Venice’s customs house. Dinner in a private, typical “bilancia” or “trabuch,” a historic fisherman’s hut suspended over the water. The seafood served is the owner’s catch of the day. Overnight at the locanda.

Day 3 — After breakfast, board the Eolo and head for the southern lagoon and the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo, where all ships, their cargo and passengers were quarantined during the times of the bubonic plague before being permitted entry to the main island of Venice. Guided tour by archeologists working on the excavation. Our next stop is Mazzorbo, a charming village on the Lido. Settle into our hotel accommodations at Ca’ Alberti, a restored 14th century villa. Meet for dinner at a typical trattoria near our hotel.

Day 4 — Breakfast at Ca’ Alberti, then reboard the Eolo. Sail for the island of Valle Zappa, a unique bird and wildlife sanctuary and the site of a spectacular villa in the Austrian style. From here we are privy to the most beautiful views of the lagoon. Guided visit followed by lunch at anchor. Transfer by private water taxi to Venice proper at about 5 p.m. Arrive at Palazzo Morosini degli Spezieri. Explore Venice and eat dinner on your own.

Days 5-7 — Remain in Venice proper with accommodations at Palazzo Morosini degli Spezieri. Breakfast before Laura Sabbadin, our native guide, collects us for unique walking tours of the famous sites, fascinating backstreets, and hidden treasures unknown to most tourists.

Day 6 — Farewell dinner in Venice with Mauro, Julia and all guests.

Day 7 —Breakfast at our hotel and guest departures from there.

Rates and Particulars:

  • 4,600 Euros per person including accommodations as detailed, breakfasts, lunches and dinners as described, private visits as per itinerary, all entrance fees, cooking lessons 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, 10 guests.

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 (May 9, 2018).
  • Please note that if circumstances beyond our control necessitate some alteration to the itinerary shown, you will be notified of any such changes as soon as possible.

Contact: For information and reservations: Write to Mauro Stoppa at the following email address info@cruisingvenice.com or email me with any questions you might have.

Dec 232017
 
Holiday Greetings from Julia & Mauro

Dear Hungry Readers and Lovely Eolo Guests, If you’ve wondered why you haven’t heard from me recently, I’ve been immersed in a big book project this year (stay tuned for senstional images from all over Italy). In the meantime, my sailing tours of Venice and its exquisite lagoon, done in tandem with Venetian host Mauro Stoppa on his historic sailboat, continued in spring and autumn. Here’s a photo taken on deck in September as we glided past one of the hundreds of islands enclosed in this little sea, so pristine and still—a side of La Serenissima that so few people, natives and visitors alike, ever see. Additional posts […more…]

Aug 292017
 
Lost Venice is Best Seen By Boat: A Diary in Pictures

If you imagine that Venice has become all about cruise ships, crowds, and tourist traps, you’ve never seen the real Venice I know. It is the Venice behind the spectacle. I can take you there, on a 7-day, 6-night culinary-sailing tour with no more than ten guests. Together with Venetian native Mauro Stoppa, long-time friend and owner of the Eolo, a restored historic fishing boat, I’ll show you Venice in a respectful way—the unfrequented islands, the natural life on the silent lagoon, the nooks and crannies of native dwellers. And along the way, you’ll feast on the bounty of the lagoon, its fish and […more…]

Jul 162017
 
Christie's Loves Our Sailing and Culinary Tour of Venice—Still Openings in September!

Christie’s came on board just a few days after our recent May sailing and culinary tour of Venice and its lagoon and did this story on our salty host and his historic boat. We have a few spots left on our upcoming September 16-22, 2017 cruise. And plenty of room in June 2-8 and September 15-21, 2018 (maximum, 10 people). Here’s the Christie’s story—apologies for the fuzzy images, but I think you’ll get the idea. Join us! Details here.

May 012017
 
Forget About Pasta, Pizza, and Smiles: Meet La Nuova Cucina Italiana

Back in the day when nouvelle cuisine was firing up the new chefs of Europe, I wrote in the introduction to my first cookbook, published in 1986, that Italy, a country that has complained about the excesses of French cooking since the 16th century, would never succumb to it. Take, as an example, the words of Gerolamo Zanetti, a 16th century Venetian, which are still uttered by modern Italians: French cooks have ruined Venetian stomachs with so [many] sauces, broths, extracts… in every dish… meat and fish transformed to such a point that they are scarcely recognizable by the time they get to the […more…]

Feb 182017
 
Learning by the Book with Wine Legend Kevin Zraly

I know relatively little about wine. I was once ashamed of saying so in light of forty years as a food writer—but that changed recently when I admitted as much to world-renowned wine educator, Kevin Zraly. “It’s not surprising,” he said, adding that the same is true for most chefs he knows, and vice versa for wine authorities. As he writes in the introduction to his newly re-issued best-selling Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, “Studying wine isn’t merely learning about a beverage but also understanding the history, language, culture, and traditions of the people and countries where each […more…]

Feb 152017
 
Venice by Boat Culinary Tour: New 2017 & 2018 Dates

“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 […more…]

Jan 282017
 
Venice Culinary Tour, September 16-22: Itinerary

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 […more…]

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…]