Last summer, I studied Entrepreneurship: Creativity and Innovation in Venice, Italy, for a month with a group of seven Wake Forest students (we referred to ourselves as the "Venice Voyagers"), our professor, and his wife. Of course I was excited to study Entrepreneurship right on the Grand Canal, but I was most excited for the incredible food that waited for me.

The Venice Voyagers and I stayed on our university's campus (basically one huge mansion) that was located on the canal. It was centrally located and surrounded by many gelato shops, restaurants, and bars.

Below is a photo of Wake Forest's Venice Campus: Casa Artom. It is in between the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (right) and an abandoned haunted house (left).

Mareesa Ahmad


First, I want to talk about the gelato. After living in Venice for a month, I found the best top 3 places to get my favorite flavors of gelato. Just a short one minute walk out of Casa Artom, there was a cute sandwich/gelato shop that had the most incredible dark chocolate gelato in this entire world. Really though, I tried dark chocolate at other cafés, and although they were tasty, nothing compared to this place. If you're ever in Venice, go to Fondamenta Venier dai Leon street and you'll see this cute shop named Luganegher. My next favorite flavor was stracciatella and every time I wanted this flavor, I went to Bar Ristorante Da Gino or as we called it, "Gino's Cafe." This was probably a 3 minute walk from our, I deserved that gelato...right?

The ultimate flavor that was perfect for a cool refresher was lemon gelato, found at the Santa Lucia Railway Station. Yes, you heard that right. The best lemon gelato is not in a café, not in a restaurant, but in the train station. I ate this flavor every Thursday afternoon right before catching a train to go to another beautiful Italian city for the weekend. 

And on the last day in Venice, my best friend and I decided to go all out and get not 1, not 2, but 3 scoops of gelato from Gino's Cafe.

Mareesa Ahmad

Most people will agree with me when I say that gelato is most definitely better than ice cream. It's creamier, denser, and just magnifico! 


Now we move onto pasta, another Italian delight! A few minutes away from our house, there was a small pasta shop called Venice Pasta's Academy on Rio Terrà Foscarini, 881 street. They made their pasta fresh daily and served it in a takeaway box. Basically, the owner and his son would make an absurd amount of pasta early in the morning and whenever they ran out, they would close shop for the day. The Venice Voyagers and I never did get lucky enough to have this homemade takeaway pasta until our very last day there. It turned out to be a fantastic send off. Upon arrival to Venice Pasta's Academy, you are greeted with a menu that is in a scrap book. Page by page, you choose the pasta shape, meat, vegetables, and cheese. And in about 10-15 minutes, you are given the most glorious homemade pasta in a box. Afterwards, my friends and I found the nearest bridge on the canal, sat down, and taste-tested each other's homemade takeaway pasta, while reminiscing over the incredible experience we had had the past few weeks.

Mareesa Ahmad


During one of our weekend trips to Tuscany, the Venice Voyagers and I took one day to do a wine tour. How could we not in one of the world's most famous wine regions?

We were blessed with the best guide, Dario, who drove us to four different wineries, which were all owned by small families. Each winery took us on a tour through their vineyards and cellars, and then finished by offering us three to four different wines to taste along with bread, cheese, and meat. The last winery not only made wine, but olive oil and honey too. This is where most of us made a few purchases to bring back to the U.S. to share with friends and family. Although, I think I speak on behalf of the entire group when I say, coming back to the legal drinking age of 21 was r-o-u-g-h after being spoiled for an entire month. Nonetheless, we did miss our AC and free water in the states.

Mareesa Ahmad

So, next time you find yourself in beautiful Italy, make sure you allow yourself to indulge in all the gelato, pasta, and wine your body can take. Thank you, Venice, for giving me the best food experiences I'll never forget.

Mareesa Ahmad