Venice: tips from an insider

Venice’s traditions: spriss and cicchetti.

The train plods wearily down rusty rails, grumbling and coughing like a centennial giant. Familiarly known as “Vaca Mora”, it has seen the route Adria – Venezia for over 100 years, running through the idle Venetian countryside in its over an hour long journey. Old train stations follow one another, in a sequence of names soaked in history and rural traditions. Mira, Oriago, Mestre, but it’s when you cross “Ponte della Liberta’, the long bridge that connects Venice to the mainland, that you start glimpsing at the Serenissima’s skyline, the once influential maritime Republic of Venice, and it’s lagoon, dotted with islands.

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Venice’s multi-colored carnival.

I’ve been gathering opinion and feedback from friends and family and tried to put them together like a puzzle to write this article – all things considered Venice is my hometown, I don’t want to screw this up. The outcome is impressive though, and extremely consistent. Along with museums, exhibitions, flavorsome food and, of course, wine (Venetians are renowned alcoholic) what everybody mentioned is the unique feeling you get at night, when the city is shrouded by a magical charm and the bright lights of little, ancient windows create a contrast with the bold darkness of walls that are vestiges of a century-old history.

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San Marco’s Square shrouded by fog, a peculiar element of Venice’s Autumn.

And its from this viewpoint I’d like to start telling what I love the most about Venice.

I must have mentioned that Venetians love wine, haven’t I? Wine, love and “bella vita” – the wise Venetians know indeed how to enjoy themselves. And it’s just before the sun sets over the horizon and the colors of the Serenissima start changing, that the holy ritual of the “Aperitivo” takes place in quaint bars and restaurants.

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One of the numerous canals.

“Bacaro”, in the old Venetian, is the traditional bar/eatery-on-the-cheap-side perfect as a happy hour spot. People get together to talk and have a “ombra” (glass of wine) or a Spritz, a Prosecco based drink made of Aperol, soda and preferably a orange’s wedge or an olive, accompanied by the unmissable “cicchetti”, snacks to nibble while sipping the most-loved Spritz.

Cicchetti can be anything as long as it’s tasty and it makes you even thirstier, but in Venice it reaches an entire new level, getting sophisticated and particularly delicious. The dried cod-based cicchetti (“baccalà mantecato) hold the first place in popularity, belonging to the city´s culinary tradition for centuries.

Venice, the capital of the aperitivo, boasts a sheer abundance of those happy hour spots and, though it can be wallet-wrecking, it just needs to be treated fairly. Let me be clear: San Marco Square is utterly stunning, one of my favorite places ever, but when it comes to restaurants it is ridiculously expensive.

Caffè Florian, Quadri or Harry´s Bar are historical cafes located in the world´s most beautiful square (I might be a little biased though), and, as much as their history dates back to the 16th century, their list of famous guests is endless, and the service is impeccable, it all comes along with a bill that fits solely big wallets.

The only way to get to know Venice is to explore off the well-trodden path, avoiding the tourists traps that crowd the main drag. Distrust those “three courses for 20 euros” and the “dinner deals” and opt for a more intimate and less popular traditional bacaro.

Another little tip? Make a good use of your Italian, and if you cannot speak a word, well, it´s time to start learning the basis. It is something that I´m personally ashamed of, but I´ve seen tourists being charged double the actual price just because they couldn´t speak the language.

Don´t you despair, here is the list of words you MUST KNOW before heading off to Venice:

  • “Na ombra, grassie” – A glass of wine, thanks
  • “Na bira, perfavore” –  A beer please
  • “Un bianco”/”Un rosso” – A glass of white wine/ A glass of red wine
  • “On spriss co dei cicheti” – An Aperol Spritz with some snacks to nibble

Venetian cuisine is also something that is definitely worth mentioning: its close proximity to the sea is one of the main reasons of its seafood-based culinary traditions. The already mentioned “Baccalà mantecato” comes along with a great assortment of delicacies such as “sardee in saor”(marinated sardines) or “bisato” (some sort of weird looking eel) and “bovoetti” (little snails that live somewhere nearby the sea).

Okay, this doesn´t sound appealing at all.

Let me re-start.

Venetian cuisine is also something that is definitely worth mentioning, boasting delicacies such as “baccalà mantecato e polenta”, “bigoli in salsa” (traditional Venetian pasta) or “fegato alla Veneziana” (liver and onion) and seafood of any sort, easily found in any traditional restaurants.

If your funds are limited, the best option is to go for some street food, which ranges from “pizza al trancio” (takeaway pizza slices) to the mouth-watering tramezzino, sandwiches prepared with a great variety of fillings and mayo. Tramezzini in Venice are amazing. I just love them.

Well, this is all you need to know about Venice chaps (for now), and as a wise man one said “May the Force be with you “.

Linda Volpe

Stay tuned for some more tips and the new article: “Bacaro tour: pub crawling in Venice”, coming up soon.

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For more info: http://www.visit-venice-italy.com/

31 Comments Add yours

  1. Your photos are great, and I’m learning new phrases in Italian, thank you! (It’s been a long while aha)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Grazie mille! Though I would advise you against using those sentences in any other Italian city besides Venice, as they are in Venetian. Pretty similar to the official Italian language but different enough to be looked at as if you’re a weirdo 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes thats what I was thinking, it’s always cool to see different dialects!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Oh that’s great! Thanks a lot 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post! Beautiful photos too!

    Like

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Thank you 🙂

      Like

  4. thetanbunny says:

    I loved this post, wish I had read it sooner (before my trip to Venice). I did learn some Italian before going though and managed to buy a scarf using the few words I knew. Hope I get to visit your hometown again soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      I will, going there in August ☺️ thanks for your kind words, I’m a great fan of your work too!

      Like

  5. Nice! I love spritz too! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Spritz has become my favorite drink ever, especially now that I’m an expat in Sweden. I tend to get overexcited whenever I bump into a bar that serves it 🙂

      Like

  6. Lizzy Life says:

    I am absolutely in love with the background color and theme of your site. Hats off to the time you might have put in designing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Thanks, I’d love it to be less static though. This is the best I could do 🙂 Your blog is great too, looking forward to reading more !

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve only been to Venice once when I was little girl and have been wanting to go back for a while now. Thanks for the advice, now I’m even more excited to go back. Bisou, Jasmin Michelle

    Like

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      I’m glad I could help 🙂

      Like

  8. This is great. I’ve been to Italy a couple of times but haven’t visited Venice. I plan to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      You definitely should. It’s worth the visit though it might be quite pricey !

      Liked by 1 person

  9. crystalamay says:

    You are from venice?one of my dream is to visit venice,I am from venice of India,venice of East.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Yes, I am, though it is off the centre. Wow, India is such a wonderful country! One of my dream is actually to visit it 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. crystalamay says:

        Ha ha, I am from India and want to visit Venice and you are from venice and want to visit India.are we feeling that the grass is greener in the other side:)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. APlaceWeLike says:

        Ahah I guess we feel it is more exotic 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      3. crystalamay says:

        All the places have itson beauty and we shouldn’t miss anyplaces I guess:)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. APlaceWeLike says:

        That is certainly true 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful writing, you did Venice justice. I’m heading here in a few weeks so it’s great to catch a glimpse of the traditions. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Really? That’s great, I’ve stayed here for the last month and a half and I’m now heading to London ! I’ll be posting some new stuff about Venice, so stay tuned x

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Isa says:

    Wow i really love your Work! The shots are amazing!
    XOXO
    Isa
    http://lifestyletrash.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Thanks, that’s really nice 😊

      Like

  12. Last year I used to take that Adria-Venezia train to work every day and I’ve never heard it described so romantically!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Thanks 😊it brings back a lot of memories to me too!

      Like

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