Arriving in Venice was something of a shock to the system after the relaxed vibe and relative lack of crowds in Milan, but after finding our bearings in our tiny hotel about half way between the Grand Canal and St Mark’s Square, it became clear why this is such a loved part of the world. After some research and a bit of happy chance, we found some excellent places to eat and drink away from the hoards of tourists, amid some incredibly beautiful and serene canal-lined streets. Here are my top four picks from our three days in Venice.
For ciccheti e ombra | After an evening stroll around the canals and tiny streets of San Polo and San Marco, we did as the locals do and stopped at Entoeca Al Volto for little morsels of delicious food and glasses of house wine for a euro or two a pop. The stand out was the local bacala mantecato – dried salt cod whisked into a spread and drizzled with olive oil then loaded on to fresh crusty bread.
For local seafood specialties | Seafood, polenta, risotto and butter are the names of the food game in Venice, so sampling a bit of all of these was on the cards in the open air jardin at Osteria Leon Bianco: sardines with caramelised onions and polenta, followed by rich seafood risotto loaded with prawns, mussels, octopus and clams (and of couse, lashings of butter).
For coffee and gelato with the locals | Wandering to the southern shore of Dorsoduro was the ticket for a caffe and an incredible stracciatella gelato from Gelateria Nico, enjoyed on a stroll east along the foreshore and around to Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.
For the last supper | On our last night in Italy, Birraria la Corte delivered when came to enjoying a little bit of everything Italian (although not strictly Venetian) – fresh bread with local olive oil, local wines and craft beers, authentic Napoli-style pizzas, and classic tiramisu. Enjoyed under an olive tree in the open-air courtyard of an old piazza, it was a fitting end to our amazing stay in Italy.
In the next post, we venture north to Belgium and France (WARNING – cheese, champagne, beer and patê rants to follow).