April 2012

Post image for Got Canals? The Secret of Venice by Kayak

Venice stretches over 117 small islands that are intricately laced with 177 canals and 409 bridges.

Paddling Venice’s secret canals lets you explore the city from a view that many will never see; which is exactly why kayaking should top your “things to do in Venice” list. It’s a juicy little loophole that is just waiting to be loved.

Most people won’t suggest Venice as a kayak destination. Why? Because most visitors lean on the Venice-in-a-shiny-black-gondola  fantasy. But that doesn’t work for everyone, especially people who crave unique angles. I’ve never been tempted to spring 100 euros for a 40 minute gondola ride — no way.  But listening to the drips of my kayak paddle in a backwater canal while peering down the silent alleyway of a faded pallazzo — yes, pretty please!

Why Kayak Venice?

Jetting around the canals in Venice is totally fun and is why the city has a shiny gold star on most people’s Italian itineraries.  I love travelling on the vaporetto; the city’s ferry system. This is the main way of getting around Venice and the tickets set you back just a few euros which leaves plenty of coin for sunset aperitivi at a rooftop wine bar.

Other ways to travel the canals include water taxis or booking a  tour in a motor boat.  One extreme case is packing an inflatable boat in your luggage like these crazy peeps — but that would really thrash on my whole light packing mantra.

The downer with most modes of travel on the waterways is that you are just a passenger within a group. The rockin’ thing about renting a kayak is that you are in control of your vessel, and you call the shots of where you go and what you see.   If that miniature canal looks like it leads to a perfect photo opportunity or enticing little lunch spot then you can make that happen.

The fact is,  Venice highly restricts the operation of motorized vessels to specific canals but non-motorized boats have free rein. You can go anywhere at anytime in a paddled or rowed boat;  even against one-way traffic (how perfectly Italian!).  The only portion that is off limits is the military zone around the arsenale and the lagoon.

In a kayak you have virtually unlimited access to Venice’s waterways big and small.  I love that.

How to Rent a Kayak in Venice

The company Venice Kayak is run by these lovely folks and they will set you up in style.

All kayak rentals come with a guide. No, you can’t just rent a boat and go ramp up the Grand Canal solo in the fray of vaporetti, ambulance boats and every other conceivable water craft (think of the garbage boat, the baker’s boat and butcher’s boat!). Although the guides won’t tell you where to go, they will get you where you want to go safely. If you just want to follow someone else’s brain they will take you on a guided trip.  You can view the prices and other goodness here. Their night trips have my emphatic vote.

 Who took these gorgeous shots?

My friend Filippo Mutani photographed these images for a spread in the Financial Times. Fillippo is a bad-ass Milan based photographer and you can see his crazy-beautiful fashion editorial shots here.  I kinda want to scream it from the rooftops: Filippo is locked and loaded to photograph you in Italy when you come and stay with us in the Cinque Terre in June 2012. Booking high end fashion photogs is exactly the incredible experiences we manifest for our precious guests who experience Italy with us.

If you wanna get in on the crazy-fun action in Italy you can join our waitlist here and you’ll be the first to know about future dates.

Groovy Ideas for Sleeping in Venice


The Certosa Hotel is the meeting place for Venice Kayak excursions and is located on an island in the middle of the lagoon. They offer a pretty sweet 10% discount on your stay if you book a kayak trip. If you want go the rock-star route and pass out naked from too much prosecco like the rest of the guests, then stay at the Cipriani Hotel (but you might have to sell your first born to afford it). They can also arrange your kayak trip as well as accommodate over the top requests of the glitterati who flock to these posh digs.

For alternative lodging to a hotel you could sleep in a houseboat or camp on the Lido or stay in my personal favourite: a gorgeous tented lodge just outside of Venice.

Just Remember

The key to hanging in Venice (or any city where tourists outnumber the locals) is seeking out under the radar sights and activities by connecting with people who can give you great recommendations. Going on a kayak trip isn’t just about seeing more, it is about spending time with people who are the heartbeat of a city. And that is the golden ticket to upgrading your “trip” into a life lifting experience.

{all images by Filippo Mutani}

PLEASE COMMENT: I would love to hear your feedback. Have you been to Venice? What are your favourite things to do there? Thanks!  xx B


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It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here

by Bianca Gignac

Post image for It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here

It has been a beautiful kinda crazy around Italian Fix HQ lately.

There has been so much goodness surrounding our trip to the Cinque Terre in June — it’s been a warm and fuzzy love fest and I am seriously stoked.

I want to send a huge hug-out to all the amazing people who have believed in us, loved us, wrote us, joined us, featured our trip, tweeted, pinned, shared on Facebook and connected with the spirit of what Italian Fix Travel is all about. YOU have made it amazing already (and we haven’t even left yet).

Here’s the skinny. I am not just a girl with the cool idea of showing people around Italy. That is just limited. Nope – I’m on a mission that is so much more meaningful to myself and helpful to others.

My mission is to  help you realize that life is about the people you meet and the things that you can CREATE together. Italian Fix trips are designed to be the light that shines the focus on molto importante concepts: self-love, incredible fun with positive friends, the inspiration and skills to follow your passions and the reminder that the true value of  life is a collection of experiences, not  “things”. I want to make your most valuable asset, your free time, something that enriches, inspires and nourishes you. You come home with renewed focus and goals to improve your life.  Travel is the catalyst and Italy is the backdrop for our experiences. Italy is a creative collaborator, but not the final destination.

I also have the personal goal of increasing charitable contributions by at least 10% EVERY TRIP we run to organizations that makes the world a more sane place. I am totally in love with Kiva’s mission and that is why we are contributing a percentage of profits we make on this trip to help entrepreneurs and the working poor in developing economies. If you are new to the Kiva mission then take a look at the the kind of people and projects we support through small business loans.

We have over fifty people on the waiting list for our 2013 dates. Be one of them here. For our upcoming trips in Italy we are adding some really exciting themes, events and co-hosts. I seriously can’t wait to spill the pasta of what we have up our sleeve for this time next year. All the juicy deets will be released later this summer and you will be the first to know when you sign up.

I’ve had over 4000 visitors on my site last month. That is huge for me —  it is four times higher than my highest traffic month. This blog isn’t even one year old yet.

The June 3-9 trip to the Cinque Terre that Tim and I have curated has been featured in Victoria’s always inspiring design blog Sfgirlbybay and you can check out her magic post here. I am also totally amped by the post that Trish over at Trip Styler whipped up to showcase the trip. Thanks ladies for your mad  bloggin’ skills! Huge gratitude.

Along with the amazing team in Italy that will share their love of food, wine, exercise and fun with all guests, I am ridiculously excited to announce that the HUGE talent Leela Cyd will be photographing the entire trip. I feel lucky to have this gal on our team now, as she is bound for big things and  I’ll  have a hard time booking her for future trips. There will be crazy sparks flying when her lens meets with the Cinque Terre. That is gonna be one hot date and I can’t wait to see the pretty babies they produce. And just to be really annoying and say it again, our man Filippo Mutani will also be capturing guests portraits when the sun is setting on the piazza on our last night in Italy together. Cu-ra-zee. I am not even bringing my piddly-ass point and shoot camera — why would I even need it?

A special thanks for the amazing graphic design support goes out to Doris Palmeros (who created the image you see above) and Angie Oltmann (who is a bloody whiz in photoshop). Grazie mille for delivered on a super high level at the speed of light.

Big hugs to you all for being here and watching this grow. It’s really gettin’ hot in here.

xx Bianca

{image by Doris Palmeros}


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