The visitor to Venice inevitably confronts the Harry's Bar dilemma: to go or not to go. The problem is that this Venetian institution is something of a tourist trap, usually crowded (with loud non-Venetians often in the majority) and stunningly expensive (it costs about $80, for instance, for the famous carpaccio - which was invented here, but still…). On the other hand, it is Harry's Bar, a landmark, a must. If you haven't stopped in, it's almost as though you haven't really been to Venice. My recommendation, then, is to belly up to the small, low, somehow incredibly elegant bar before the place gets too full and have, no, not a Bellini (also invented here), which I've always considered a cocktail for people who don't like cocktails, but one of the bar's (gin) Martinis, ice-cold, poured from a pitcher into an exquisite little glass. Sip, observe, drink in the atmosphere. Then get back out on the street.
Time for a little culture. Venice is full of museums, but the treasure house of non-contemporary art in the city - and one of the great art museums of Italy, period - is the institution officially known as the Gallerie dell'Accademia, a one-time school of painting occupying the former grounds of a school, convent, and church. Talk about an entire box of chocolate liqueurs. The Accademia is absolutely chock-a-block with riches, with hundreds of masterpieces displayed in at least a couple of dozen rooms. The works represent almost 500 years of Venetian art, alternately dramatic, breathtaking, and unsettling. They're the kinds of paintings your art appreciation teacher back in school would have wanted you to spend an hour apiece with. Well, plenty of time for that when you come back for 24 weeks in Venice. For now, my recommendation is to simply graze, moving through the galleries at a fair pace, stopping to spend a few minutes with the works that particularly catch your eye - the seductive, glowingly illuminated works of Giovanni Canaletto or Francesco Guardi, maybe, or Paolo Veronese's dazzling intricate set piece The Feast in the House of Levi, which takes up an entire wall (it was originally titled The Lord's Last Supper but Veronese renamed it after he was accused of heresy) or works by those unwitting muses to Harry's Bar, Vittore Carpaccio and Jacopo Bellini (and his sons Giovanni and Gentile).
7pm. Catch your breath Time for a nap or a shower or a quiet cocktail in your hotel bar.
Bacari are Venetian wine bars, similar to tapas bars, serving an array of "cicchetti", or little snacks, along with assorted beverages. The best way to enjoy these places, as with tapas bars, is to wander between two or three or four of them, having a glass of something and a nibble or two at each. I particularly like three near the Rialto market, beneath a 16th-century loggia on the Campo San Giacometto. All have indoor seating, but also terraces out the back that face the Grand Canal. Bancogiro has an upscale feel and has been known to serve foie gras and oysters - neither being typical Venetian fare - as well as the assorted cicchetti and well-cooked seafood dishes that are its standard fare. Al Pesador, next door, specialises in carpaccio; there are always five or six varieties, mostly involving fish (I love the combination of smoked tuna interlaid with smoked swordfish, both sliced translucently thin). At the far end of the loggia is Naranzaria, which has the best wines of the three (the proprietor owns a winery in Friuli) and offers platters of cold meats piled with first-rate prosciutto, salami, and an extraordinary mortadella made from goose instead of pork. Naranzaria's carne crudo is the anti-carpaccio, finely chopped instead of sliced and very subtly seasoned. (Avoid the sushi, no doubt appreciated by the locals, but a disappointment if you're used to the real thing.)
Okay, it's nearly time to leave Venice. If you can get to the Erbaria, just over the Rialto Bridge, before the fruit-and-vegetable-sellers close up shop (they're usually open till noon), you can buy locally grown grapes or pears or maybe a slender bulb of wild fennel, then stop into the 1936-vintage Casa del Parmigiano in the heart of the market for some cheese (extraordinary parmigiano, as you might expect, but plenty of other kinds too) and prosciutto or salami. (If you have time to spare, take a look at the adjacent fish market, where you'll see sea creatures you've never imagined.) Take your picnic with you (picnicking is discouraged on the streets of Venice) and eat it on the way to wherever in the world you're headed next, while thinking to yourself, "It seems like only yesterday…"