Travel Flashback: Lunch at Locanda Cipriani

Today, I thought I’d share with you a favorite travel memory of AAC CPA’s and mine. In August 2010, we traveled to Italy for a couple of weeks and visited Rome, Venice and Cernobbio on Lake Como.

One of our best experiences on that trip was a magical lunch we had at Locanda Cipriani on Torcello, a sleepy and sparsely populated island (with only a few dozen permanent residents), located on the northeastern side of the Venetian Lagoon.

Locanda Cipriani was the inspiration of Giuseppe Cipriani who, in 1934 purchased a wine shop, which he then transformed into a small locanda (inn) with just 6 rooms surrounded by a magnificent garden. The Cipriani family owns the Locanda to this day.

Ernest Hemingway bestowed great fame on the inn in his book Across the River and Into the Trees, which he wrote during a visit there. With his imprimatur, Locanda Cipriani became a magnet for world-famous celebrities. When we were there, we visited their photo gallery, which includes pictures of the Windsors (yes, THAT family) who visited in May, 1961. It is said that the Locanda is the only restaurant that Queen Elizabeth II has visited privately.

So it was with great anticipation that we departed from our hotel (the famed Cipriani on the island of Giudecca) by water taxi for the 45-minute ride to Torcello. The hotel’s illustrious “doorman”, Roberto (there is no door, actually, as you’ll be arriving to or departing from the hotel either by water taxi or the hotel’s private launch), arranged for our water taxi and told us that we would very much like our “driver”, who the doorman referred to as “Blue Eyes”. And to prove it, Roberto made “Blue Eyes” remove his shades to prove it! And he did!

Venice Doorman
Entrance to the Cipriani and its doorman

Venice - Blue Eyes
“Blue Eyes”

Venice - Depart
Departing the Cipriani on our way to Torcello

The ride to Torcello was very beautiful and exciting as we sped across the lagoon past many other islands along the way.

Venice - Arriving Locanda
Arriving at Locanda Cipriani

Venice - View from Locanda
View from the inn

We asked “Blue Eyes” to return for us in about 2 hours and stepped inside. We were warmly welcomed and shown to our table in a beautiful garden setting.

Venice - Arbor
The garden at Locanda Cipriani

The menu at Locanda Cipriani is a typical for the region. Here’s what we had:

Antipasti:

Venice - Tomatoes
Pomodorini ripieni di verdure in agrodolce con salsa “carlina”
(Ripe tomatoes stuffed with vegetables in sweet and sour sauce)

Venice - Figs
Prosciutto di San Daniele e fichi freschi di Torcello
(San Daniele ham with fresh figs of Torcello)

We skipped the Primi and went directly to the Secondi:

Venice - Lamb
Costolette di agnello dorate al rosmarino e misto di erbe aromatiche, con papate salate in padella
(Golden lamb shops with rosemary and mixed aromatic herbs with salted potatoes in the frying pan)

Venice - Entree
Filetto di branzino dorato in padella con zucchini trifoliate del litorale
(Golden filet of sea bass in the frying pan with three-leafed zucchini of the coast)

And, of course, a bottle of vino:

Venice - Wine
A lovely Fiano di Avellino 2008

Did we possibly save room for some dolce? You bet we did. And a cappuccino for AAC CPA.

Venice - Dessert
Millefoglie in porzione con crema Chantilly
(Individual Napoleon with Chantilly cream)

Venice - AAC
A very satisfied AAC CPA with his cappuccino

Let me tell you that the service was perfect: relaxed, polite, casual and very correct. We were made to feel like special guests and I can’t imagine a more serene setting for this perfect lunch.

After lingering over our dessert, we still had a bit of time before “Blue Eyes” picked us up for the return trip to our hotel; we walked around, visited a church and just generally marveled at this jewel of an island.

The trip back was uneventful except for the amazing views:

Venice - Relaxed AAC
AAC CPA soaks up some rays in the water taxi 

Venice - View Duomo
Lagoon view on the way back to the Cipriani

Venice - Back Home
Arriving back at the Cipriani

If, in the above photograph, you look at the top right, you’ll see our room, which had its own private balcony overlooking the lagoon. How LUCKY are we??

Venice - Balcony
AAC CPA on our private balcony doing some laundry, Italian-style

So, should you find yourself in Venice – the jewel of the Adriatic – I strongly encourage you to make a special trip to Torcello and have lunch at Locanda Cipriani. I won’t lie to you: traveling there by water taxi is not cost-effective (there are less expensive but much more time-consuming ways to get there), but I guarantee that you will have a very unique experience and seeing Torcello and the Locanda will be a wonderful memory for you to cherish.

And, should you want to blast a hole through your hotel budget, a stay at the Cipriani is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m just sayin’.

TRAVEL TIP:  Locanda Cipriani

TRAVEL TIP:  Hotel Cipriani 

CULTURE TIP:  NY Times Review: Across the River and Into the Trees

CULTURE TIP: The Other “Blue Eyes”

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