Photo Diary: Venice

This was probably the most indulgent way to visit Venice but the Local Milk Retreat was really worth the expense. Not only did we stay in a private palazzo (it’s location is a secret as this is still a family home) that was 100s of years old. The cavernous light filled space that we called our ‘dining room’ for the stay was opulent and breath taking, with a balcony over looking the Rialto bridge a perfect spot for sunrise and sunset.


The Local Milk Retreat is a photography course which is run by two very inspiring photographers. Beth Kirby of Local Milkand Skye McAlpine of From My Dining Table specialise in food, food styling and lifestyle. Skye was brought up in Venice and splits her year between her London home and her Venice space. She shared her knowledge of the local Venice with us on photowalks, including a trip to Burano with an unforgettable seafood lunch and Venetian sweet treats. Be sure to visit her blog for lots of insider tips on Venice.


We were completely spoiled that most of our meals were cooked by chef Aaron of Studio Neon, who had flown in from Australia just to cook for the course. The fresh produce of Venice made every meal he made taste incredible.


Words | Catherine Frawley 

Photography | Catherine Frawley


Our trip to Burano was again indulgent, there are obviously cheaper ways to cross the water but Skye had organised private teak river taxis, the roof comes down and we all had a little Hollywood moment. We also left really early so for about an hour it felt like we had the island to ourselves. Burano is so charming, the colourful houses are said to be painted so vibrantly so that fishermen could find their way home in thick fog. Residents are obviously au fait with tourists and those with cameras as the washing including underwear is hung out regardless and no one seems to mind it all being photographed. We had a wonderful seafood lunch at Trattoria al Gatto Nero, the very charismatic chef came out several times to check we were all happy (which we all were!).


As for coffee, I discovered what a cappuccino is supposed to taste like and became addicted to those served at Ginos, such lovely staff too. We were there at Carnival time and they serve special pastries so if you are ever there during this time have the Fritelle – a completely unassuming donut looking ball that is filled with a beautiful sublime cream and the pasty is just divine. I would never have picked it as it’s pretty unattractive, but thankfully I was with those in the know!

I had been worried about visiting Venice in January, it was super cold, at some points I was wearing all my clothes. But we were truly lucky that it was bright and sunny with no rain for 4 days. Myself and 4 others, got up each morning to catch sunrise, leaving the Palazzo (through the Gondola room!) to get to the Rialto Bridge before making our way to St Marks Square, the advantage of visiting Venice off season is that we had Venice to ourselves. No crowds, no fighting to get a picture we were free to wander and stop every few steps to compose the perfect image. Our last morning we had the most spectacular sunrise, it really was worth the early start and the chilly mornings. Plus we got to have first breakfast at Gino’s before heading back to the Palazzo to see what Aaron had prepared for second breakfast. Just what January needed!