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Reporting once again from the travel frontline for Smith Travel Blog, Wanderlista, aka Andria Mitsakos: publicity guru and luxury travel blogger. Hot on the heels of her Brazilian trip, here she is gadding about at Smith-selected love-nest I Qs hotel and guiding you to the best cicchetti in Venice…

Andria Mitsakos in Venice

Venezia. The sheer thought of the mysterious northern Italian outpost always sends a shiver up my spine. My perpetual gasp (and re-gasp) when I walk out of the train terminal and see Venice again; it always feels like I’m seeing it for the very first time.

It’s curious; it’s dark. Its night and day are as different as, well, night and day. Hollywood-crafted, jaw-dropping, movie-set scenery; poetic history, magnetic atmosphere and alluring dining.

However, despite longing to linger, this trip is just a quick, 23-hour mad dash with an overnight stay at I Qs, to attend my best friend and her new beau’s wedding dinner before flying to Athens the next morning. It’s Venice, in full throttle. So with a nod to The Tourist, Mr Smith and I channel our inner Johnny and Angelina and away we go.

SCENE ONE: enter Mr & Mrs Smith
Venice boutique hotel I QsAlthough it’s über-touristy (and pricey) to speedboat into Venice, to me, it’s the only way to arrive. My Venetian friends cringe at me for spending 70 euros (they all take the vaporetto), but I love the thrill as we wind through the canals watching water taxis and gondoliers fight for pole position. It’s such a rush; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

SCENE TWO: in which Mr & Mrs Smith find lodging
Gorgeous palace hotels on the Grand Canal are de rigueur in la Serenissima, but we decided to live like locals and bed down at the intimate boutique hotel I Qs. This darling four-room spot offers plush and private living in the heart of the island city. Little sister to DD724 hotel, its individually designed rooms blend comfort with impeccably executed contemporary tastes. Peppered with modern art, photography and sculpture, and flavored with architectural hints of its Gothic past, I Qs does ‘urban hideaway’ with style-savvy panache. And of course it has easy access for water arrivals…

SCENE THREE: in which our heroine takes aperitivi
After a quick settling in, we were off! Since we had set dinner plans already, we decided to do an aperitivo crawl and hit our favorite spots. They became favorites because of my dear friend Giada who grew up in Veneto. She’s like the inside travel guide to Venice, and now, so am I…

Typically, La Vedova in Ca D’Oro (+39 041 528 5324) is the first stop in the city for aperitivo if you’re arriving to Venice by train, as it’s located just off the Strada Nuova, the main street near the station. Must-haves here are the polpette (meat balls) and ombra (glass of house wine).

Then it’s off to Ai Rusteghi (+39 041 523 2205), which is just near Rialto and has a great wine list. The cicchetti (the typical food for aperitivo in Venice) are incredible here. They have small paninos full of everything. Such gorgeous food.

Al Timon (+39 041 524 6066) is the stop for over-the-top-to-die-for crostini with chicken livers… Trust me: you don’t want to miss it.

And finally, Naranzaria (+39 041 724 1035), located in Rialto, is a must. For aperitivo, enjoy a ciccheto and a glass of wine while standing outside with friends, or end your happy hour here with dinner along the Grand Canal.

Appetites whetted by wine and cicchetti, it was time for dinner. We hopped aboard our speedboat and off we went to the final scene. Buon appetito!

Photographs by Peter Wesley Brown.

I Qs hotel in Venice also features in our forthcoming guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: Italy, published 17 October.

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