Visiting Venice in winter

Have you ever been to Venice before? I had already visited it various times, in different moments of my life and in different moments of the year, and I always find something very special about it.

A part from the incredibly crowded tourist attractions that are always busy with people, winter is actually a fantastic moment to visit and to have Venice all to yourself in some parts of the city, especially during the night when it might look romantic, spooky, maybe even give you some feeling of the fatality of this city that some day it will drown, so you should enjoy it, while it is still here!

But truly, Venice is a great place, and the food is absolutely delicious. For my first visits as an ignorant tourist in the local gastronomy, I have no idea what I was having, because just after my third or fourth visit I discovered that spritz was actually from Venice, and cicchetti!

Lardo (on the left) is salted, delicate and sweet pork fat, you really should try it, baccalá in all its forms of course, and usually some fantastic cream cheese cicchetti with something on top, like dried tomato. Osteria dai Zemei.

So what are cicchetti you ask.. everyone probably has heard of the Spanish tapas or the Basque pinxos, well, cicchetti are something quite similar, an aperitivo snack on mice toasted bread. They are small bite size things, that usually have baccalá made in different ways, some incredible cream cheese like robbiola or something with truffle, some prosciutto maybe, they are really spectacular! You cannot miss them, and do not forget to try them with spritz.

And spritz! There is not just one way to drink it, it can be Aperol, or Campari or Select! Select is basically a local drink, similar to the other two but it’s neither as sweet as Aperol, nor as bitter as Campari, I think it really is a nice variation. People here usually say that spritz with Select is the most authentic choice.

Breakfast at 9.30 at Bar All’Arco, cicchetti to die for, with some cream cheese, black truffle and marinated porcini on top, some baccalà again and fantastic coppa cured meat with Gorgonzola on top!

Me and my boyfriend are fans of “Somebody feed Phil”, so we really needed to go see this place where Phil was having some food, but it was only open until 14.30 and we were supposed to go to a wedding near Treviso at midday so what did we do? Did we just leave it for another time? No way!

Bar all’Arco. We went there to have some substantial breakfast, spritz and cicchetti! And we really weren’t sorry or in need of any coffee (they don’t serve any anyway), because the cicchetti were incredible. The place has been included for various years in the Slow Food Osterie d’Italia guide, so it is really a highly recommendable place!

Another nice surprise with great salumi and cheeses, and their own roasted coffee was La Bottiglia, with very little seatings inside, but excellent view seats outside on the street and on the side of the canal.

At La Bottiglia you can have a beautiful selection of different salumi and cheeses, so the fun part is that you can compose your own panino, whatever comes to mind and using the products they have like fresh or marinated veggies, cheeses etc. Many wines served per glass, so also a nice option if you want to try different things! And don’t forget artisanal beer.

Osteria dai Zemei is very hard to miss if you’re coming on foot from the bus station and walking towards the Rialto bridge. It is a small and cosy bar just in the corner of a busy street, and the cicchetti here are fantastic, I’ve been here twice in different moments and it has not let me down. Best Select spritz I had was here, and they also have some nice local wine selection, like Valpolicella and Ripasso. Worth it and you don’t have to get lost in Venice to find this jewel!

I must warn you, the kitchens in wintertime close pretty fast, so if you arrive at the airport coming in at 21.00, count about 30min to get to the city center, maybe some 10-15min to get to your hotel and check in, at 22.00, I’m very sorry to say, there will be no cicchetti for you… BUT we were so lucky that just in front of our small hotel there was an excellent chain of pizzerias, but GOOD pizza! And you can definitely get all the spritz you want as well! The place is called Farini, the really have an excellent choice of freshly baked pizzas, you can see the pizza Iole working there in front of you, so if you run out of options at night, go to Farini, it closes at midnight!

At Farini, not only great pizza, but a fantastic coffee machine too! If you’ve heard of La Marzocco, you’ll know what this baby is worth!

Our trip was quite short, as we went for a quick weekend and most of our Saturday we spent at a beautiful wedding of our friends in the countryside, so we didn’t get to taste more, but we really hope to go back soon, because we didn’t even get to sarde in saor!

P.S. I don’t want to forget to mention this excellent coffee house with exquisite pasties, artisanal cookies and locally roasted origin coffee. If you are a coffee fan like me, you will love the place! They are found in various locations – Majer.

I bought some nice cookies with chocolate chips to bring home, but they were gone by the next morning.. to tasty!

What about you? Any interesting and fun places and experiences to share from Venice and its gastronomy?

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Graduate in Gastronomic Sciences, Q Arabica Grader, WSET L2 in wine. Obsessed with cooking new recipes, I love visiting producers and travel for food!

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