People think of Venice as being somewhat inaccessible due to its network of canals, but it is in fact very easy to get in and out of the city-even for a day trip. Even if Venice isn’t part of your itinerary, you can always pop in for a quickie tour: Just park your car at the Marco Polo Airport and take one of the water buses (vaporetti) into the city. Piazza San Marco is a good, centrally located stop, and from there you can get just about anywhere you want on foot. Venice isn’t very big.
Should you make it in early, stop for a coffee at Caffe Gli Specchi on St. Mark’s Square, soak up a few sights, then head north along the Grand Canal for lunch at Al Covo (Campiellodella Pescaria 3968; 041-522-3812). The proprietor, Cesare, is a friend, and he and his wife speak great English. Their cuisine is classic Venetian seafood with some international flair.
In the afternoon, you might amble in and out of some of the local wine bars (look for the word ombra), including the great pizzeria-enoteca All’Aciughetta (Campo San Filipo e Giacomo 4357; 041-422-4292). For a little high style, stop in for an over-priced Bellini at Harry’s Bar in the Daniele Hotel, just steps from the San Marco vaporetto stop.
Then, for dinner, throw on a sportcoat (and fill up your wallet) for a stylish meal at Da Fiore (Calle del Scaleter 2202/A; 041-72-1308). This subterranean restaurant is designed to resemble the inside of a luxury yacht, and their seafood is second to none. The wine list, too, has an incredible array of bottlings (especially whites) from the Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Finally, walk off your dinner, jump back on the vaporetto for Marco Polo, then drive off to your next destination-with the satisfied smile of the savvy traveler on your face.