Every year, on March 25th, Venice celebrates its birthday! This year, like for many of us, it will be the second birthday celebrated during covid-19 lockdown! But this is a very special anniversary for Venice, the city turns 1600 years old! It’s a very important birthday! Why was Venice founded in the middle of the water? Let’s look at the most important stages in the growth of Venice!
The myth of the 25th of March
According to tradition, Venice was founded on the 25th of March 421 AD. On that day, at Noon, they positioned the first stone of the church of San Giacometo. The 25th of March is also the day of the Annunciation. Venetians entrusted themselves to the protection of the Virgin Mary, the one who was able to give birth to the Son of God and his message of salvation. Of course, the most beautiful city in the world couldn’t have humble origins!
Building on water
The first area where people started settling was the area of Rivoaltus. The name is due to the fact that it was located on an island slightly higher than the others. This is the area around the current Rialto bridge. The bridge was named after the Rivoaltus area. How come that people decided to settle and built a city in the middle of a lagoon? They had to face sand, water and mud, it wasn’t the perfect habitat for humans! You have to know that during the 5th and 6th centuries Barbarian invasions began. Italy was the scene of the ferocious raids of the barbarians and the lagoon was an ideal place to take refuge. That’s why people started escaping from the mainland and started settling in the islands of the lagoon. They had to work a lot to shape the islands and find the right technique to built resistant buildings. It is thanks to the hard work and commitment of those people that today we can admire the magnificent palaces and churches of Venice!
1600 years old
From the first settlements that started in the 6th century, the expansion of urban soil in Venice will continue for centuries. It was a long, hard and complex process. Venice overcame many challenges, some problems still require hard work and commitment! Thanks to the Mose project the city finally seems to be protected for the high tide and they are promoting new plans to encourage sustainable tourism. The city now is quiet and calm, covid-19 crisis has hit the economy of the city very hard! Venice will celebrate 1600 years with a sober party! But fingers crossed for next year! We are expecting you to come and enjoy the beauty of Venice soon with one of our tours! In the meantime…Happy Birthday Venice!
Carnival is the most popular festival in Venice, its origins in the city date back to the 13th century when the Doge made it a public holiday. Originally Carnival in Venice started on the 26th of December and lasted for several weeks until the beginning of Christian Lent. Carnival was an occasion of social release. People were gathering together celebrating by eating the most tasty food and dancing all day long.
How Carnival developed?
Throughout the centuries Venetian Carnival has become famous all over Europe. People from other countries arrived in Venice to enjoy the celebrations. That way, Carnival quickly turned into a luxurious festival with elaborated costumes and masks. In that period there were parties all over the city inside the beautiful palaces on the Gran Canal. To attend those parties masks were mandatory! This way you didn’t know who the person in front of you was! You could party with a sailor, a nobleman, an actress, a commoner and you didn’t care! The idea was that of hiding your identity and your social standing in order not to judge or to be judged by anyone. You can guess that anything could happen in those occasions…and when we say anything, we really mean anything! This general freedom also had some negative outbound. Crime began to raise. With the mask on criminals were unpunished, they couldn’t recognize them! That’s why the Republic of Venice started imposing some rules to control Carnival. They forbade to wear a mask in the streets after dark. They also abolished them inside churches, monasteries and convents. We can say that even friars and nuns enjoyed celebrating Carnival!
Carnival and masks
On the bright side that of producing masks became an actual art. Venetian mask makers used their talent and creativity. They made masks with papier mache and decorated them with pearls, feathers and glitters. They could be colorful, extravagant and lavish, never sober! This is a tradition that has survived up to current days. The mask is still the most typical souvenir in Venice. If you get lost in the little alleys you can find laboratory shops and even craft your own mask.
The most famous traditional Venetian masks
BAUTA: it is the quintessential mask of Venetian tradition. It was particularly popular inside casinos (houses for gambling and brothels). As a matter of fact, its beak like shape allowed people to eat and drink without taking it off. It was also a way to disguise your voice. MORETTA: it was a small black velvet mask. It had French origins and it was exclusively for women. Guess why? In order to wear it, they must held it in their mouth. In this way it was impossible for those women to talk! This silence was a weapon of seduction as it added a huge amount of mystery to the game. PLAGUE DOCTOR: originally doctors used this mask during plague epidemics. It has got a long beak where they put dried herbs and flowers to avoid breathing the bad smell of their patients! The length of the beak also allowed them to maintain some distance from the corpses.
After many centuries of fun and great celebrations Carnival in Venice ended with the Napoleonic invasion that started in 1797. The darkest pages of Venetian history corresponded to the end of this magnificent Festival. Venetians would have to wait until contemporary times to bring the spirit of Carnival back to life. As a matter of fact, it was only in the 70’s that a group of students and local associations started organizing the first parades with music, costumes and masks. Today the main celebrations are held in Saint Mark’s Square. They still organize splendid balls inside the palaces on the Grand Canal. Tickets can be very expensive but we believe it is one of those lifetime experiences you must live at least once. Unfortunately the covid-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of all public events. But don’t worry, Carnival 2021 will be an online event. For more info, check this link out! Fingers crossed for next year! We are looking forward to meet you soon in Venice to host you in one of our tours and have a nice spritz together…who knows, maybe right during Carnival time!
HAVING A SPRITZ WITH A COUPLE (OR MORE) OF CICCHETTI
You’re planning to come to visit Venice but all you have is a day? Don’t panic! It might seem impossible to learn something about it in such a limited time, but there are actually many things you can do and many places you can visit. We garantee this will turn your short staying into an unforgettable and intense experience. Here is a list of the six things you should include in your plans to exploit every minute in this amazing city!
VISITING SAINT MARK’S SQUARE AND THE DOGE’S PALACE: THE HEART OF VENICE
It might seem a little bit obvious but there are certain wonders in Venice that you really have to visit. It doesn’t matter the time you do or do not have, the crowds you may find in the city, the weather or your personal mood, Saint Mark’s square is a must!
Our suggestion is to go there early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Once you get there you’ll notice there is really a lot to see! Of course it would be great to have the chance to visit both the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. Considering you limited time, our suggestion is to enter only the church so that you can admire the amazing golden mosaics and the beautiful byzantine architecture. The Palace is obviously an interesting museum but it will take a lot of your time away so decide accordingly. Anyway don’t worry because whatever you choose, the incredible architecture of the square as a whole is so overwhelming that simply looking around it, will make your day brighter.
VISITING THE RIALTO BRIDGE AND THE POPULAR MARKET
Another must do: The Rialto Bridge! There are more then 400 bridges in the city and each one of them has its own charm and allure but none of them is as impressive and romantic as the Rialto one. The version you can admire today dates back to the 1500’s but they built the original bridge in the 1200’s. The purpose was connecting the market area (Rialto) to the political one (Saint Mark’s Square). Our suggestion is to get there early in the morning so that you can also visit the traditional fish market. Walking through the different stands selling from fresh fish to fruit and vegetables, from meat to cheese, you will be able to breath an authentic Venetian atmosphere. It will allow you to take part of one of the most traditional and ancient experiences in the city.
HAVING A SPRITZ WITH A COUPLE (OR MORE) OF CICCHETTI
Visiting the city will carry you on a different dimension, so much so that you will not feel the tiredness and you’ll want to walk and explore more and more.
But, if you can forget the fatigue, what about the hunger? Well, that is a much more complicated issue! 😉 Since walking with your belly empty is not an option, our suggestion is that of stopping in one of the thousands bars of the city and trying a truly Venetian traditional food: the Cicchetti.
They are pieces of bread similar to the Spanish tapas with many ingredients on top of them. For example: cheese, fish, meet, vegetables and other types of finger food like meatballs, salty muffins and little pies. The most traditional ones are the Baccalà Mantecato (marinated codfish) and the Sarde in Saor (fried sardines marinated in a bitter sweet vinegar sauce). For a truly Venetian experience, remember to combine your cicchetti with a glass of good wine or a Spritz. Drinking and eating are two very important aspects of the Venetian life so you cannot say you deeply enjoyed Venice without having stopped in one of our Bacari (bars).
GETTING LOST IN VENICE
Venice is such a people-friendly city, that you can wander around it just walking. This will allow you not to spend extra money for the public transportation, which is wonderful because that way you will save it for your spritz…or better..your many spritzes!!
Joking apart, be prepared, as walking in Venice is often a synonym for getting lost; don’t worry tough, just do it! It is actually the best possible way to enjoy the city. Venice is like an open air museum. Every corner, little alley, canal, every palace and piece of stone tell you a story and dive you into the history and the beauty of the city. So take a couple of hours where you just explore Venice without a purpose, walking, taking pictures, looking around and filling your eyes with its incredible beauty.
One of the best areas to get lost in the city is probably Castello district, the biggest and one of the most residential we have. Our suggestion is that of taking a nice walk on the breathtaking Riva degli Schiavoni, which is a long bank facing Saint Mark’s basin. The view from there is one of the best you can find in the city and once you arrive at the end of the long street you will reach the green area of Sant’Elena. From there, you can have fun exploring the inland areas, reaching San Pietro di Castello and simply enjoying the feeling of being lost in Venice.
We promise you sooner or later you’ll find your way back to the central areas and with a bunch of amazing pictures you wouldn’t be able to take otherwise! 🙂
BOAT TOUR ON THE GRAND CANAL
The Grand Canal is the main road in Venice. The most important and breathtaking palaces dating back to different periods and mirroring the different architectural styles, are all there. Missing this water perspective is really a shame as the real essence of the city lies there.
Venice is inextricably and inevitably both land and sea so you really need to combine walking and sailing. Our suggestion is that of taking regular public transportation. The best Vaporetto (water bus) is line number 2 as it is the fastest one on the Grand Canal. You can either start from Piazzale Roma (the bus station) or from Saint Mark’s Square. The number is always the same, you just have to check for the direction. Lido if you start from Piazzale Roma, Piazzale Roma if you start from the Square. It will take you half an hour more or less and the tour will definitely take your breath away!
BOOKING ONE OF OUR TOURS
Last but not least, book one of our Touring Different Tours! They are the best way to learn a lot about the city in a relatively short time! We are all passionate, young, fun, professional guides! Our crew is more than committed into giving you plenty of information about the interesting history of Venice. The guides will also talk about how the city was built, its popular churches, the great artists and traditions that contributed to turn it into the amazing place it is today. Last but not least we will tell you many more fun stories, legends and give you good tips on how to experience Venice as a local.
You can find us every morning in Campo della Carità, in front of the entrance of the Academy Gallery of Arts, for an adventurous and artistic tour of the southern Dorsoduro district. In the afteroon you can find us in Campo delle Fava, one step away from the Rialto bridge, for an historical and introductory tour in the northern area of Venice.
We simply love our city! Our team is determined to convey our passion to you and really turn your staying in Venice into an unforgettable experience. Each guide really wants to fill you with good memories and interesting stories that you can share with your families and friends.
It would be unnecessary to say that a lifetime in Venice wouldn’t be enough to explore all of its hidden corners and to learn all of its secret stories. Nevertheless, following our personal mini guide you will be able to take home with you the perfect mix between the conventional and the unconventional sides of the city. You’ll feel like you lived three full days of explorations and enrichment all condensed into one.
Rialto bridge was the first one built on the Grand Canal and it is the most famous bridge of the city. Why?
It all began with the foundation of Venice, the first settlements took place in this very area that was called Rivoalto, literally high land. With the development of the city, Rivoalto became the headquarter of the political and commercial life: it was full of markets, storehouses, shops of jewels, precious fabrics, spices and so on. At that time people used a boat, called “traghetto”, to cross the Grand Canal, they had to pay a toll for this service; the first bridge in this location was then built in 1180 and it was called the “toll bridge” because people still had to pay in order to cross it.
The bridge was made with boats that were connected together with some wooden tables and in the middle it was a drawbridge, in order to allow big boats to pass underneath it. It was completely rebuilt in 1255, it was made with wood, with piles as foundations, the drawbridge in the middle and with shops on both sides. People started calling it the Rialto bridge, from the contraction of the area’s name Rivoalto.
This bridge will remain unaltered until 1310, this year sadly became famous because of the conspiracy of Bajamonte Tiepolo: it was organized by some Venetian aristocrats who wanted to rebel against the Doge.
Their plan was to attack the Doge’s palace (headquarter of the government) and to kill the Doge but it failed: the conspirators were discovered by the army of the Doge and were forced to retire. They crossed Rialto bridge during their escape and, in order to stop the army that was after them, they set the wooden bridge on fire. All the members of the conspiracy were then caught and exiled from Venice; the leaders were condemned to death, while Rialto bridge , that had been damaged by the fire, was repaired. The bridge was then able to survive until 1444 when Venice hosted the wedding of the marquis of Ferrara; on the Grand Canal there was a beautiful parade of boats and everybody wanted to see the bride. A lot of people gathered on the bridge to see the parade… so many that the bridge collapsed! Luckily there were no victims, except for the bridge
Antonio da Ponte
It was rebuilt with wood in 1450 but still, it wasn’t so stable, so the Republic of Venice finally thought: why don’t we built a bridge made of stone, that maybe will be stronger than wood?
They announced a contest to choose the architect that would have been in charge of the entire project. There were different participants, a lot of them were great names of Italian architecture such as Palladio, Michelangelo and Sansovino.
The winner was Antonio da Ponte (it’s ironic that its surname actually means bridge in Italian) who proposed the best solution to all the requests of the Republic. The bridge was completed in 1591, made with Istrian stone and based on 12000 wooden poles, the arch measures 28 meters and with 24 shops (12 per side).
Rialto bridge restoration
Rialto bridge is divided in three lanes: the central lane is 10 meters wide and with bigger steps; the two lanes on the sides are 3 meters wide. Here the steps are lower and smaller in order to facilitate the transit of men with carts that transport and deliver goods all over Venice. To built this bridge the Republic of Venice spent 250,000 ducats, that means 10 times the price that they paid for the previous wooden bridge.
Today you can admire the bridge in all its magnificence because it has been recently restored. It is also one of the most photographed sites of Venice and a must-see for all visitors. Come and discover more curiosities and legends about Rialto bridge and the area nearby during one of our tours! We have plenty of stories to share with you!
The church of Redentore is one of the most outstanding buildings that define the skyline of Giudecca island. Yes, in Venice we do not have skyscrapers, we have churches and bell towers that define our landscape! As regards the above mentioned church, the story of its foundation is related to one of the plague epidemics that affected Venice over the centuries. We were in 1575, the plague hit the city, in two years there were almost 50,000 victims, if you think that at that time the population of Venice consisted of 150,000 people, this means that one third of the city was killed by the plague. There was no treatment to the disease, people were so desperate that they started thinking that the plague was a punishment sent from God in order to redeem them from their sins. In 1576 the Senate made a vow: they would have financed the building of a church in exchange of God’s help.
In 1577 the works started, the architect in charge of the project was Andrea Palladio, an important name, today he is considered one of the most influential individuals in the history of architecture. They positioned the first stone in May and soon the miracle happened: the plague stopped on the 20th of July 1577! It was a huge relief for the city, a procession was organized to celebrate this event. It was lead by the Doge and the members of the Senate who were then followed by nobles, members of the clergy and Venetian citizens. They had to reach Giudecca island and there was only one obstacle: the island is separated from Venice by the homonymous canal. The solution was simple: they created a temporary bridge made up of wooden boats, connected together by some ropes. The procession reached the church and people went inside in order to pray and thank God who stopped the plague. The procession became a ritual that the Venetians repeated yearly, this tradition has survived up to the present days. Every year, on the third weekend of July, a temporary bridge is built on the Giudecca Canal. Today they no longer use wooden boats, the bridge consists of a metal structure that can easily be transported and assembled. It is a unique experience to cross it: the view is astonishing and it is very odd to walk and cross the canal, usually you must use the boat to reach the other side!
The Redentore festival is very popular among Venetians, the celebrations start on the Saturday: in the evening the Giudecca Canal is closed to public transport, you can only go there by private boat and then you must stop there for a few hours until traffic is opened again. Why? Well, there is a unique show on that night! All boats are decorated with balloons, flowers and candles, people have dinner on the boats or they organize long tables all along the canal side on Giudecca island.
It’s a chance to party together, to celebrate the sense of community that is still surviving in Venice. During Redentore night friends, neighbours and relatives organize their dinner together: the most typical food consists of bigoli with onion and anchovies, sweet and sour sardines, stuffed duck, escargots and the most typical summer fruit: watermelon! Wine is another protagonist of the night, together with music and celebrations.
We have to say that today Redentore is a festival both religious and spectacular: on the Saturday night at 11Pm the fireworks start, it’s a really beautiful show. Fireworks continue for almost one hour, you can admire them in the sky and you can also see their reflection on the water, it’s a colorful show that makes Venice even more magical. The Giudecca canal on that night is full of boats where people are celebrating all night long, the canal sides are crowded with Venetians and tourists that gather there hours in advance to find the best spots to see the fireworks. The luckiest people are those who own a balcony or a terrace on the rooftop, they have a unique and privileged view!
After the Covid-19 epidemic Redentore, like other local festivals, risked to be canceled. It was a surprise for the Venetians when the mayor announced that the festival is confirmed on the18th and 19th of July! Of course, they will take all measures and precautions necessary to protect everybody’s health, there will be restrictions on the number of people who can access the canal side to see the fireworks and boats will have to reserve their spot on the Giudecca Canal, social distancing and masks will be mandatory. It will be a strange festival, but at the same time it will be one of the first chances for Venice to go back to local traditions and events! After the lockdown we all need some fireworks!
A JOURNEY AT THE DISCOVERY OF THE TYPICAL DISHES OF THE LAGOON
“Cities you go to, food you find” if there was a saying to define our beautiful Italy it would certainly be this. Our territory is in fact small in size but it is so rich in different climates and landscapes that it has given rise to a varied and complex cuisine over the centuries.
Italy is often identified as the home of pizza and pasta, of course both perfectly summarize the spirit and the essence of italianness but it would be a mistake to believe that these two delicious dishes are the mirror of the traditions of each italian region. If Emilia Romagna is famous for its sliced salami and its sublime Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, if Tuscany is the land of Chianina meat and Chianti wine, if Calabria is known for its spicy chillies and Sicily is the mother of Arancini (little fried rise balls with ragù sauce inside) and blood oranges, Veneto is home to radicchio, rice and Prosecco wine.
As you can see in a few lines and with a few examples we have already highlighted so many differences. Above i mentioned Veneto, the region which is lucky enough to have Venice as its capital. Moving now from a regional plan to a more specific one, that we could define Venice-centric, what are the culinary wonders that this splendid city give us?
What to eat in Venice
Talking about food in Venice means making a leap into its old history. I always like to define the city as the most oriental that can be found in the western part of the world; this link with the East is in fact visible on every stone and on every mosaic of what they once called the Serenissima. The merchant traffic, the ships that sailed the seas of the known world, the waves of foreign merchants who stayed in the famous Fondaci (literally houses with wearhouses) to take care of their business, have in fact allowed the city to become a mix of different cultures and traditions.
This link between different cultures has inevitably manifested itself also in the venetian cuisine, which thanks to the numerous influences it has undergone, could be defined as one of the most varied in the world. But let’s not waste time chatting, on the contrary let’s go straight to the list of some of the most typical dishes of the lagoon. In other words, let’s analyse those delicacies that you absolutely cannot think of not tasting once you set foot in Venice.
Baccalà mantecato (creamed codfish)
It is probably the symbol of the city. There is no bacaro, restaurant or tavern that has not placed it on its menu. Its presence on the venetian tables is due to Captain Pietro Querini who, in the 15th century, after a shipwreck ended up staying for a few weeks in the Lofoten Islands, in Northern Europe. There, he got to know the tradition of stockfish, codfish dried in the air and in the sun. On his return to the Serenissima, he made sure to take some samples with him and from that moment cod went straight into the culinary tradition of Venice. The recipe requires the boiling of the fish with bay leaves and lemon for about twenty minutes. Once cooked, the cod is just creamed with oil in a thin stream, salt and pepper. The result is a soft and velvety cream perfect on bread croutons or on a slice of grilled polenta. A real treat!
Sarde in Saor (Sweet and Sour Sardines)
Saor, which in venetian dialect means “sapore” so taste in english, consists of a sweet and sour preparation based on onions, vinegar, pine nuts and raisins. This delicious dish has ancient origins. In fact, the presence of vinegar allows food to be kept for many days. Considering the lack of refrigerators, the saor was therefore the perfect method to consume even that fish (not only sardines) which was not really fresh. The recipe requires the frying of sardines and on the side the preparation of the saor. In a pan the onions (a lot of them) are browned with a drizzle of oil.Once dried, sugar is added to caramelize and the whole thing is deglazed with vinegar (the more vinegar is added the more intense the saor will be). Lastly, fire off, pine nuts and raisins are put in. Finally we proceed with the preparation of the dish: a layer of saor has to be alternated with one of fried sardines, as if it was a lasagna, until the ingredients are used up. Saor must necessarely be prepared a couple of days in advace so the fish absorbes all the flavors and it becomes a real treat!
Polenta e Schie (Polenta with little shellfish)
Polenta in Veneto is really eaten in every possible way, but if served with schie it becomes even tastier. First of all, what are the schie? They are very small shrimp typical of the venetian lagoon. Despite their small size, their taste is really intense. You can taste them fried but the version you’re going to prefer is the boiled one. In fact, if boiled and seasoned with a drizzle of oil, pepper and parsley and served with hot and soft polenta, they will simply be somptuous.
Risotto al nero di seppia (Squid ink Risotto)
Here two great venetian products are combined: rice and squid ink. Risotto is certainly a widespread first course in all of the northern regions of Italy. Whether you prefer it soupy or dry, it is a truly versatile dish that can be prepared with the most varied ingredients: vegetables, meat and of course in Venice with fish. If you love the strong and at the same time delicate taste of squid, you definitely have to try their ink. The colour might seem uninviting for a dish but the taste will amaze you!
Pasta alla Busara
If you love shellfish, especially shrimp, you should definitely try the pasta, usually spaghetti, alla Busara. Its origins probably date back to after the war and could be sought in Istria (present day Croatia) but the dish is perfectly framed in the tradition of the city. The name busara has multiple meanings. Some claim it was an earthenware pot used on board ships, others say it means “lie” because of the presence of tomato sauce which somehow covered the taste of shrimp. Today one thing is certain, the shrimp in the busara sauce are definitely the protagonists and their taste gives the tomato a unique flavour.
Bigoli in Salsa (Bigoli in sauce)
It is a dish with very poor origins. Bigoli in sauce were considered a lean option because they were consumed during those days when the precepts of religion imposed abstinence from certain food. The ingredients to make the sauce are actually poor: onions and anchovies. Don’t be fooled though, the taste on the contrary is an explosion of rich flavors. The realization of the recipe is really simple. For the sauce, brown the onion with a generous dose of oil and add the anchovies. While cooking, these will flake off and create a mouth-watering sauce. The bigoli, a type of long pasta similar to spaghetti but much thicker, must instead be boiled, drained and finally whipped with the sauce.
Fegato alla Veneziana (Venetian style Liver)
Don’t worry, if you don’t like fish, here’s a traditional venetian meat dish: liver…venetian style of course. Why is it defined like this? Because the dish is characterized by the presence of an ingredient that we have already mantioned extensively and which is very dear to the city: onions. The liver, usually from veal but it can also be found from pork, is simply cut into strips and cooked in a pan with oil, butter and onions. A sprinkle of vinegar is also inevitable as it is excellent to dampen the strong taste of the meat and the sweet but intense taste of the onions.
Buranelli (Burano cookies)
You don’t want to live Venice without having tried some typical sweets, do you? In addition to being delicious, the Buranelli are also the perfect souvenir for friends anf family. These cookies are typical of the island of Burano, one of the three main island of the venetian lagoon together with Murano and Torcello. The ingredients are among the most classic for sweet preparations: flour, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla flavouring. The recipe is very simple; just assemle everything and create donut-shaped cookies, bake for about twenty minutes in the oven and you’re done. Try them, they are amazing!
Frittelle (fried donuts)
If you are in Venice during the Carnival period (unfortunately, or fortunately for those who want to keep in shape, they can only be enjoyed in those weeks) you absolutely have to stop in one of the many historic pastry shops and taste the famous frittelle (in Venetian dialect fritole). Their origins are very ancient, they probably date back to the 14th century. They are made of a thick and sticky batter made from eggs, butter, milk , flour, yeast, sugar and flavourings which is then fried “spoon by spoon” in boiling oil and then stuffed. The classic venetian one actually has no filling but only raisin which is put directly in the row dough. The sweet tooth can taste the many variations with chocolate filling, classic cream, pistacchio cream and a bunch of other flavors. The whole city, at Carnival, smells like frittelle… it is the scent of joy!
Baicoli are typical cookies of the venetian tradition. They have ancient origins and they are said to have been consumed by sailors forced to long periods of absence from home because of their long preservation over time. They are made of a very simple dough based on water, flour, yeast, butter, sugar amd egg whites. The consistency of these sweets is very different from the above mentioned Buranelli; if those are buttery and crumbly, the Baicoli are on the contrary “hard” and crunchy. They are perfect together with mascarpone cream, eggnog or an excellent sweet wine.
We could mention many other dishes that make Venetian cuisine a real Italian gem, but surely the above mentioned onces are already enough to let you have a real deep dive in the most authentic Venetian essence.
Travelling doen’t just mean moving from one place to another. Travelling means opening your mind and heart to new experiences, it means living different cultures and traditions and knowing stories of exciting characters. But there is more, travelling also means experiencing the local cuisine because there is no monument nor museum that can convey the soul of a country, or a city, or a people as perfectly as the dishes that its inhabitants traditionally consume do.
Food is history, it is life, it is culture, it is art and beauty, it is sharing and joy so what would Venice be without its baccalà mantecato or its frittelle?
What more can I say? Fasten your seat belts, set the navigator towards Venice and…enjoy your meal!
In Venice there are monuments not to be missed, breathtaking views and surreal atmospheres but let’s not forget that the city is the wonder that we all know and appreciate also thanks to its delicious food. We cannot therefore say that we really lived Venice deep down without having tried the experience of its bacari. Here the top 10 bacari in Venice.
Bacaro, what is it?
But what exactly is a bacaro? Do you know those places that feel like home immediately? Those where a glass of good wine and a few appetizing snacks change your day? A bacaro is all of this and much more. Halfway between a restaurant and a winery, between a bar and a tavern, it is an informal and familiar place to spend time doing what Venetians really do well, eat and drink in company.
Above I mentioned appetizing snacks but if you don’t want Venetians to get angry, don’t even think you can call them that way, because in Venice there is a very specific term that defines them: cicchetti.
The cicchetti are the so-called “Venetian tapas”, a series of croutons, meatballs, skewers (usually fish) little sandwiches and other delicious finger food to be enjoyed during the holy aperitivo time but also for a quick lunch. The cicchetti are especially the perfect choice to fully enjoy what we call “bacarotour” a sort of super Venetian tour from bacaro to bacaro to be able to taste the most varied cicchetti, drink good wine ( a lot of it!). Have a chat with friends enjoying the cheerful and festive atmosphere typical of these circumstances. In short, going for bacari means drinking and eating, having fun and being fine together. Now that you know that your staying in Venice will necessarely have to include a stop in one of these typical informal bars, how can you find the best bacari? The city is actually so rich in tourist traps and so full of narrow streets and labyrinthine calli that you really risk not to find the right places.
best bacari in Venice
Here is a list of the top 10 bacari in Venice and where to find them, to be able to live and enjoy the city like a real Venetian.
Cantina Do Spade
Cantina Do Spade is located in a central area in San Polo district. A short walk from the Rialto Bridge but well hidden in a suggestive secondary calletta. It’s one of the most popular bacari of the city . It offers a typical cuisine that ranges from fish, the great protagonist of the Venetian tradition, to meat. You will therefore find the classic sarde in saor (sardines first fried and then marinated with vinegar onions), the inevitable baccalà mantecato (creamed codfish), fried squid but also meatballs with tomato sauce and fegato alla veneziana (liver with vinegar onions).
It is located in the beautiful setting of the Fondamenta dei Ormesini, in the district perhaps richest in authentic bacari: Cannaregio. The Paradiso Perduto with its blue curtains, its alternative atmosphere and its wooden furnishings is the perfect choice for those who love informal style and conviviality. In addition to the amazing local cuisine you can sometimes enjoy live music. The specialty is certainly fried fish.
You can find it in Dorsoduro district, not far from the famous Campo Santa Margherita. Perfect for a quick but tasty lunch, Alla Toletta basically means one thing: dreamy tramezzini. The tramezzini are delicious litlle triangular sandwiches with fillings that range from the classic ham, mushrooms and mayonnaise to the most refined rocket and crab. You will be spoiled for choice, they are all spectacular!
Bacareto da Lele
Near the Tolentini church, not far from Piazzale Roma, in Dorsoduro district, there is a small bar that attracts especially young people: the Bacareto da Lele. Here you can find a forever winning combination: a good glass of house wine and a little sandwich, perhaps with good Venetian Soppressa salami. The atmosphere is informal and joyful and Lele is a real institution in Venice.
If you are in the Rialto area, in Campo Bella Vienna, close to the vaporetto stop Rialto Mercato in San Polo district, you have to stop for a spritz combined with a tuna meatball or a good little sandwich at the Mercà. The place is very small and has no seats but that way you can live an entirely Venetian experience, that of an upright aperitivo. The Campo is always full of life and the fun is guaranteed.
La Vedova is located in the Cannaregio district along one of the most tourist streets of the city: Strada Nuova. But do not be fooled, it is well hidden in a secondary calle and it perfectly maintains its fully Venetian character. La Vedova means only one thing: spectacular meatballs! There is also the possibility of stopping for a proper meal but the hot and crispy meatballs are truly its distinctive feature.
Another place located in the super venetian district of Cannaregio, another place located in the beautiful setting of the Fondamenta dei Ormesini, very close to the Jewish Ghetto. Its cicchetti are perhaps the most famous in the whole city. Their specialty are for sure croutons. You can find them with meat (for example with sausage and cheese) or fish ( for example with creamed codfish) and they can be classic or extravagant. You also have to try the baked potate sticks. If you love meat it would be a really good idea to stop even for a super dish of grilled meat!
Bacarando in Corte dell'Orso
Not far from the Rialto bridge, in San Polo district and well hidden behind the super crowded Campo San Bortolo, you find Bacarando in Corte dell’Orso. The place, entirely decorated in wood, is simply lovely. The cicchetti are rich and varied. We go from meat and fish croutons, to mozzarelle in carrozza ( small sandwiches stuffed with mozzarella and other ingredients such as ham, anchovies, salmon dipped in batter and then fried) to fish skewers and savory pies.
Let’s go back to the already mentioned Fondamenta dei Ormesini in Cannaregio district, to make a stop in a relatively new place but already perfectly framed in the Venetian reality: Ae Bricoe. The staff is really nice and the cicchetti are delicious. Meatballs are recommended but especially you have to try the sandiwiches with Porchetta, a real treat!
Taverna al Remer
Very popular with Venetians, located in San Polo district in the Campiello del Remer, perhaps one of the most hidden and evocative of the city because it overlooks the Grand Canal directly. It will offer you a classy and yet not expensive aperitivo with a priceless view. Also perfect for a romantic dinner, it detaches itself from the more informal atmosphere of the others but it maintains its simple Venetian soul.
As you can see a city is not made only of its artistic wonders but also of those of everyday life. The bacari of Venice are what make it real and alive by binding it inextricably to its inhabitants and its people.
It seems like all you have to do now is to pack your bags, empty your stomachs and plunge yourselves headlong into the top 10 bacari in Venice! You’ll love it!
There are 137 churches in Venice, they can be considered as museums of the city. They contain works of the greatest artist, were designed by the main architects and reflect all the different architectural styles that affected buildings in Venice over the centuries.Some of them have mysterious legends, myths about their foundation, secrets hidden inside their paintings and statues.
Come and discover them during our tours! In the meantime, here’s a list of the best 10 churches that you can see in Venice.
Saint Mark’s basilica
This is the most famous churches in Venice. The construction started in 828 but the works to add magnificence to this church will last a few centuries more. The Basilica today reflects different styles: Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic, Renaissance; it’s a treasure chest of all the most important facts and victories of Venice. The marbles, the gold imported from the East, all the statues and columns brought back as spoils of war, they all contributed to create the gorgeous Basilica that became one of the symbols of the city. Visit the inside, with its 4,000 square meters of mosaics, it will be an astonishing experience! You will learn more about the church during our paid tour of Saint Mark Square. Entrance: FREE. Inside specific sites you need a ticket: Saint Mark’s Treasure, Golden Pall, Museum on the first floor.
Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari: or simply Basilica dei Frari. Frari in Venetian dialect means friars. It is one of the biggest churches in Venice. The Franciscan Friars built the church in 1250. That’s why from the outside the style looks pretty simple: Italian Gothic style with red bricks and few decorations, to respect the rules of the Franciscan order, based on poverty and simplicity. But on the inside this church is an authentic jewel: it contains artworks of Titian (Pesaro Madonna and Assumption of the Virgin), Giovanni Bellini, Bartolomeo Vivarini and Donatello. Titian is buried here, his grave is in front of the funeral monument of another great artist: Antonio Canova. Entrance: 3 €
Santa Maria della Salute
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, also known as the Salute: the most beloved by Venetians. This Basilica was built as a vow after the plague that struck Venice in 1630. Designed by the architect Baldassare Longhena, it was completed in 1687, today with its beautiful Baroque style it dominates the final part of the Gran Canal. You will learn more about the church during our free tour in the Southern part of Venice. Entrance: FREE.
Chiesa dei Miracoli
Church of Miracles: a hidden treasure in the middle of Venetian alleys. They built this church between 1481 and 1489 to host a painting of the Virgin Mary. They considered it to be responsible of some miracles. The church is a masterpiece of Renaissance style, decorated with precious marbles and stones. Today it’s the favorite church for weddings. All brides want to get married inside it because of the gorgeous pictures they can take there. But the waiting list is very long, you need to book the church at least two years in advance! You will learn more about the church during our free tour in the Northern part of Venice. Entrance: 3€
Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta or dei Gesuiti: located in Cannaregio district, they built this church thanks to the religious order of the Gesuits during the 18th century. The inside is really astonishing, ceiling and paving are decorated with baroque style with green and white marbles, the altar is the masterpiece of the church. Inside there are paintings of Titian, Tintoretto and Palma il Giovane. A lot of visitors miss this church because of its location. You will learn more about the church during our free tour in the Northern part of Venice. Entrance: 1€
Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo: the biggest church in Venice. They also call this church “the Venetian Pantheon”. Inside there are the graves of some heroes of the Republic of Venice: soldiers and commanders, Doges and other important members of Venice society. If you are interested in the history of the city and want to know more about it, this is a good place to start! The campo in front of the church is one of the most beautiful in Venice! Entrance: 3 €
Chiesa della Madonna dell’Orto: another jewel of Cannaregio district, built during the 14th century and originally dedicated to Saint Cristopher. There is a legend that explains why the name of the church was then changed into “Madonna dell’Orto”, literally “Virgin of the garden”, discover it during our tours! This church contains a lot of paintings made by the great painter Tintoretto who lived nearby and this was his favorite church in Venice. His grave is inside the church, close to the main altar. Entrance: 3€
Chiesa di San Pantalon: one of the most simple churches from the outside. The facade is still incomplete, but on the inside there is a surprise: it contains the biggest canvas in the world. A huge ceiling painting represents the history of the martyrdom of Saint Pantalon, made by Giovanni Antonio Fumiani who painted it from 1680 to 1704. Entrance: FREE
Santa Maria del Giglio
Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio: they first built it in the 10th century and then rebuilt it in the 17th century. The nobleman Antonio Barbaro financed it. They represented him together with his brothers on the facade of the church. There you can also see six columns, their bases are decorated with the maps of the six cities where Antonio worked during his life. Inside the church there is only painting in Venice made by the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. Entrance: 3€
San Simeone Piccolo
Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo: with its green dome, this church will be the first thing that you see when you arrive in Venice from either the bus or the train station. The church is very simple, but we recommend that you ask the custodian to visit the crypt. The crypt of this church is a unique example in Venice, with a small candle you can walk around the small tunnels and see the old frescoes on the walls…an experience that you won’t forget! Entrance: FREE, to visit the crypt the entrance will cost 3€.
If you are interested in visiting many churches, you can buy the Chorus pass: it’s a ticket that will give you access to 18 churches. The pass costs 12€ for adults (8€ for students) and you can buy it inside the churches, at the tourist information offices or online.