Free People’s Guide to Venice – Part 2

Here is part two of the Free People Guide to Venice, put together by our producer! Read on for our tips on where to eat and more of our favorite things about Venice, and if you missed it be sure to check out part one of the guide featuring where to stay, landmarks, gondola riding tips and more fun stuff!

It’s always my goal when arriving in a new city to find the best local joints. Venice is a hard city to get to know due to its “tourist-y” nature, but all it takes is a little wander away from San Marco and the Rialto (make sure you see those too!) to get to know the real Venice.

It was recommended by a friend of a friend to eat at Alle Vedova – we didn’t end up finding it until our last night, but I think I can speak for all of us in saying that we wish we had made it there sooner! After a week of sub-par and expensive Italian food we found just what we were craving at Alle Vedova.

I think that it was more the experience than the food itself, though tables of  fresh squid, local veggies and homemade pasta weren’t so bad! Alle Vedova is settled in at the end of a small dark alley, but the rumble of local chatter makes it clear when you are headed in the right direction! Once you put your name in they give you small glasses of red or white wine for while you wait and homemade meatballs to tide you over until your table is ready. One of my favorite touches was the napkin lampshades! What a sweet idea!

Its spritz o’clock!

It seems to be a Venetian tradition to take a break in the middle of the day for a Spritz. I think it’s the most beautifully colored cocktail I’ve ever seen and it is the perfect drink for a hot summers day.

Here is how to make it for yourself …

1/3 white wine (ideally prosecco)

1/3 aperol or bitters or select (pick your favorite!)

1/3 seltzer water

Throw in an olive; find some sunshine and lounge by a canal… you’ll blend right in with the locals!

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I’m not sure even where to begin talking about gelato! I think that a few of us ate it breakfast lunch and dinner during our long shoot days. Our local producer claimed that Gelati Nico was her favorite in Venice, and though I agree that it was delicious I believe that gelato is heaven anywhere you eat it in Italy, it may just be a matter of price … more expensive does not equal better in this case!

I’m sure a lot of you are wondering what the difference is between gelato and ice cream and I am here to tell you that they are not at all the same thing. The ingredients are similar but the process of making it, the ratio of ingredients in it and the temperature at which it is served are completely different. It is smoother, tastes creamier and I am happy to tell you has less fat then ice cream.

… it’s making my mouth water just thinking about it now!

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Oh boy… every little detail makes me smile… and the color combinations are inspiring to say the least <3

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Venice kills me with its rich color combinations and patterns … for a city that is known for its decay, it has the richest detail elements! Look at these samples from the home that we shot in… All of these patterns were found in the living room alone!  Just thinking about it makes my heart melt a little.

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These shoes aren’t mine but I sure do wish they were! They are the perfect flat shoe… casual and dressy and oh so comfortable.  I can’t wait for them to come out in the catalog so I can snatch up a pair for myself!

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Venice comes alive at night, and I recommend to everyone that you go out and enjoy it! We often worked late which meant that we didn’t eat until around 10 or so which seemed to be the norm at most of the places we ate.  After our meal we often opted to wander back to the hotel instead of taking a water taxi and we saw the most beautiful things along the way!

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Our last night in Venice was my favorite.  We combined all of my favorite things into one last hurrah! We ate great food at Alle Vedova, had fun drinks at Bar Paradiso Perduto (Cannaregio 2540, Venice), played dice along the canal, met up with old friends, made some new ones, wandered endlessly and laughed even more so… certainly a night to remember and how I recommend ending every trip! Well, think of it this way… a late night before the flight home helps you sleep on the plane :)

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We hope you enjoyed our guide to Venice! If you’d like, visit our flickr page and download the whole thing. Ciao, Venice!

*All photos by Thomas Northcut except for pages: “All about the details,” “Patterns” and “Shoes I Love”.

Free People’s Guide to Venice

Our talented producer has put together a beautiful Guide to Venice to share with you all, with tips on where to eat, where to stay and things to do while in Venice – with some Free People fun thrown in for good measure :) Read on for Part One of Free People’s Guide to Venice!

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The Free People team has just returned from a trip to Italy, Venice to be exact, and what an amazing trip it was! It was my 3rd time to the beautiful country known for its pasta, wine and enthusiastic, fun-loving people and the 3rd time was certainly a charm.

Venice. Despite the fact that I was there for work and our hours were long, I feel like I really got to see the best of the best. We ate the most amazing food, found some magical local drinking spots, and spent many late nights lost in Venice’s streets – as every good traveler should.

Here are some of my favorites … some places and things that I hope everyone can enjoy at some point in their lives.

It’s never a quick exit for our catalog team when embarking on a new shoot. There are months of prep that go into one catalog at a time and since we shoot 12 catalogs every year there are often 3 to 5 shoots in the making at one time! We never stop emailing, calling and texting about work until we are finally on the plane! Here is a quick peek at our morning before a flight … packing samples, making last minute calls, and finally at the airport and checked in we take a seat and talk about the week to come. Here is our art director, stylist and me on our way to Venice!

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striped shirt, two tees, two tanks, leopard print scarf, maxi skirt,  high waisted jeans, blouse, leather jacket, flats, hats,  high waisted shorts, wayfarer sunglasses.

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Venice appears to have hotels on every canal corner, but finding one that is reasonably priced, with large rooms is far less obvious. We found exactly what we were looking for at Ca Pisani. With a friendly staff, large clean rooms, and an amazing full breakfast included we couldn’t have asked for anything more. Located in the Dorsoduro section of the island, we were close to the Grand Canal, the Academia Art Gallery and at a perfect distance from the bustle of Piazza Margarita, The Rialto and the heart of Venice.

Oh… and they leave the best candies on your pillow at night!

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The Hotel Danieli is known to be one of the most decadent hotels in the world. Its guest book includes a plethora of royalty and Hollywood icons from the past and present, and it has graced many films such as “The Tourist” and the classic James Bond film “Moonraker”.

On our scout day we were lucky enough to peek inside. They even gave us a tour of the Master Suite! … What I would give to be able to call that home for the night.

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Dating back to the 14th century, the interior is breathtaking and intriguing … it tells a story of the decadent golden years of the floating city, of doges and Italian royalty. simply standing in its hallways made me want to put on heels, do my hair, put on some red lipstick and sip cocktails on the rooftop patio that overlooks the grand canal and San Marco square. Alas … it’s back to work for the fp crew!

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The first time I visited Venice was with my family when I was young.  Sadly, a huge part of what I remember is feeding the pigeons in Piazza San Marco! This time I took a moment to notice the magnitude of the architecture.  Parts of this square date back to the 800’s! So, so incredible.

Just a heads up: you can no longer feed the pigeons :(

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We got a handy tip from a local Venetian today and i wanted to share it with you all! As you learn quickly in Venice, getting from point A to point B may not be as easy as it looks on a map. Often times, right when you think you have finally maneuvered your way over bridges and through piazza’s there is a beautiful deep blue canal standing between you and your final destination.

A tip to remember is if all you need to do is go from one side of a canal to the other, it is common for gondoliers to take you for mere pennies opposed to the hundreds of dollars that a gondola ride usually costs you… the catch is that it is standing room only! But considering that the ride is only about a minute and it could possibly save you an hour of walking, it is a tip totally worth remembering.

Look for a line of locals at gondola stops … they are most likely hitching a ride as well!

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Masks are everywhere in Venice, and are a very important part of the Venetian culture. Carnival is a festival that was originally intended to be a time of expression and celebration throughout all social classes of the time. What a beautiful idea! I love that anyone and everyone become equal when behind one of the many intricate and delicate masks. We stumbled across Ca’del Sol while shooting one day behind San Marco. The women that ran it were so kind and let us shoot in their store. We all fell in love with their masks that covered every inch of every wall … even the ceiling! It’s a breathtaking sight! And the perfect gift to bring home from Venice.

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The many faces of Free People! While working on location on the 3rd day I decided to document the Free People crew Venetian style! What a good looking group! And what an amazing team <3

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Part Two of Free People’s Guide to Venice will be posted next week!

*Photos in pages “Arrivederci,” “Welcome to Venice,” “Ca Pisani,” “Hotel Danieli” and “italian lovers” are by Thomas Northcut.