As exquisite, fresh and wholesome as Venetian cuisine may be, it is unfortunate that many travelers report unpleasant experiences of being ripped off or having bland meals when eating out in Venice. Eating in Venice can easily become a tourist trap for eager visitors who go looking for the most stereotypical meals, and in return get low quality dishes at grossly inflated costs. Venetian cuisine dominated by abundance of seafood is not what travelers typically associate with Italy, yet it is incredibly tasty if you happen to run into the right place. Good coffee can absolutely be enjoyed outside of Piazza San Marco’s expensive restaurants, and freshest seafood you ever tasted can be found in many unassuming local eateries called osterie.
The first and best tip is to avoid any “tourist menus” as they have limited food choices, often not of the freshest kind, and dishes that aim to please tourists en masse rather than offer authentic local experience. These kinds of menus in restaurants situated in crowded touristic areas just concentrate on one-time tourist crowds that will most likely never come back, and therefore pay less attention to quality and exclusivity. It is easy to recognize these places: they all have explicit pictures of every dish, waiters in bow ties loudly inviting customers to come in, and frequently no Italians inside.
Another thing to keep in mind is that pizza is not a specialty of Venice. Fire has always represented a hazard and many restaurants do not have traditional wood-fired ovens needed to make good pizza. Only a lucky few are allowed to cook pizza in a traditional brick oven. Meat is also not a venetian staple (as it can be in Tuscany), so odds for finding well-prepared meat dishes are lower in Venice. When in doubt, opt for seafood or a vegetarian choice.
Below are just a few of many wonderful Venetian eateries where locals and tourists alike can enjoy fresh, authentic, Venetian cuisine in great atmosphere and at reasonable prices.
Taverna del Campiello Remer
Sestiere Cannaregio, 570
This charming restaurant is a little hidden gem near the Rialto Bridge. When Venice’s weather turns gloomy and gray, this place offers comfy atmosphere to stop and have a bite. With wood and brick interiors, the low candlelight and warmth of this place blend in with live music, offering customers the perfect place to relax with family or friends. Its location is a bit hard to find, since it is not a restaurant operating with tourists in mind, but those who make an effort to find it will pay reasonable price for enjoying some good local appetizers, pasta and rice washed down with a glass of good local wine.
San Polo 2604 B/C
With all the bars and tourist-friendly restaurants in Venice, it is hard to decide on a nice simple choice to maybe grab a quick drink or take a pause after a long walk around the city. This trendy contemporary restaurant is just around the corner from Rialto market, and is always full of locals around noon and aperitivo hour (time when Italians have their pre-dinner drinks). Members of the staff are young and kind, and the little tables outside provide a nice relaxing ambiance while sipping Prosecco (a small extra charge is assessed for sitting outside). During dinner hours, the piazza where this bar is located is buzzing with nightlife and music, offering fun and entertainment. The menu includes all sorts of seafood cooked in the form of polpettine, bruschette, fritture and bocconcini, all in generous amounts for a perfect afternoon snack. Muro Frari is also a good choice for a quick Italian breakfast, with excellent cappuccino and warm cornetti (croissants) straight out of the oven.
Al Vecio Forner
Campo San Vio, Dorsoduro 672
If you happen to be on your way to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum just crossing the Accademia bridge, then this homey restaurant could be an excellent choice. It doesn’t have extensive menu, but the seafood and snacks are not to be missed. The trick in this nice little restaurant is to ask for an assorted plate of all the little seafood appetizers that include shrimp, mussels, octopus, fish, calamari and vegetables, all cooked and presented in many different ways and always served with a bit of polenta. This is certainly not a place for fancy service and a heart-warming welcome as some tourists may expect, but it is a place frequently visited by locals, and if you happen to eat there more than once, the charming barman with red glasses will likely remember you and greet you.
Calle Dello Spezier 2765
This attractive bakery is hard to miss if you’re on your way to Campo Santo Stefano. Right at the beginning of Calle Dello Spezier, this bright and joyful place will inevitably attract the attention of any passerby thanks to the colorful macaroons and yummy cookies set on display. This alluring bakery is what anyone with a sweet tooth craves for, offering traditional Italian bread, sweets, chocolates, jams, macaroons, cantuccini, and delicious croissants filled with Nutella and fruit.
Santa Croce 1762
A perfect alternative for vegetarians, La Zucca is a small cozy restaurant with a lovely view next to a canal. This place’s uniqueness lies in its sophisticated way of preparing vegetables, pumpkin being the most important (la zucca means pumpkin in Italian). Customers can enjoy delicious pastas, soups and even a flan made with pumpkin as the main ingredient. Many of their antipasti (or starters) are based on mushrooms, potatoes, eggplants and cheese. This charming restaurant is definitely an inviting alternative to all the fish and seafood options around Venice.
Like any other city, Venice is full of countless culinary options for both locals and visitors. Most Venetians are used to snacking all day, and the area around Rialto Market is packed with small unassuming bars and restaurants teaming with delicious appetizer options (called cicchetti in Venice). There are also fancier choices like some cafes in Saint Marc’s Square, such as Florian or Quadri, offering sumptuous meals with amazing service in historic and opulent settings, or expensive coffees and cappuccinos for those who can’t afford the full meal. There are also famous places with glorious past such as Harry’s Bar, which many tourists feel they have to visit. In reality, the best places in crowded touristy Venice are those off the beaten track, and especially those in less touristy areas such as far-flung corners of Arsenale or Dorsoduro, or even on the lagoon islands such as Murano and Burano.
No trip to Venice would be complete without a visit to glass paradise, Murano. This small island just a mile away from Venice set pace for fashion and innovation in global glass-making industry for over 700 years. It was on this island that talented artisans turned glassmaking into an art form meant to satisfy even the most exquisite tastes, a story which remains relevant today.Offering not only a network of canals lined with ancient buildings and gorgeous views like the rest of Venice, Murano charms its visitors with many other unique attractions that cannot be found anywhere else.
The island of Murano became home to all of the Venetian glass furnaces in 1291. The risk of fires in the city made of wood along with nascent popularity and importance of glass-making craft, convinced the Doge that Murano was the right place to isolate and guard the workshops from curious eyes eager to steal the secrets of the trade. From then on, Murano name became associated with the most coveted and high quality glass works.
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|When it comes to planning a trip to Venice, there is a seemingly simple question that needs to be answered first: when is the best time to visit? Needless to say, Venice is always a beautiful place full of infinite charm, yet in different seasons the city can be appreciated in unique ways.
Luckily, Venice offers marvelous sights, tourist attractions and joyful festivals throughout the whole year. As it is well known, the summer months are the most expensive when it comes to accommodation and flights, long lines are usual at tourist attractions and the heat in July and August can be rather exhausting. On the other hand, the winter months offer a magical experience, if you are up for romantic albeit chilly walks through the deserted alleys of the city. One thing, however, must be remembered when planning a visit to Venice: all moving around is done by foot, or by taking a ride, most often in vaporetto (Venetian water bus). Continue reading »
|Barovier name is synonymous with Murano Glass. Over the centuries various members of Barovier family have been leaders, innovators, and vigorous promoters of Murano Glass art. Barovier & Toso is an Italian glass-making company, one of Murano’s most ancient families in the craft, and yet one whose style transcends time and whose quality has been consistently held in high regard for centuries. Nominated as the world’s longest established family of glass workers, and one of the world’s oldest continuously operating family businesses, for almost a thousand years Barovier’s family business has maintained keen interest in culture, constant innovation and drive for perfection.
The Venetian glass-making tradition – of which the Barovier family has been a frequent leader – is the very core of this family’s unique creations; it is the starting point of the Barovier history. The first known records of Barovier family members working as glass masters on Murano date back to 1324, specifically mentioning Jacobello Barovier and his sons Antonio Barovier and Bartolomeo Barovier. The descendants of Viviano Barovier and Jacobo Barovier who lived and worked on Murano island in the 14th century gave rise to the more famous Barovier family members who became well known during Renaissance. Continue reading »
|The Festa del Redentore, also known as the Feast of the Redeemer or Redeemer Day, is probably Venice’s most spectacular and cherished celebration. Commemorating the end of the fatal plague that hit Venice during the 1500’s, on the third Sunday of July Venice gets transformed into a magical scenery, where boats and gondolas gather in the Venetian Lagoon to take part of the most awaited night spectacle. This is without a doubt the biggest festival in Venice.
While Carnevale (the annual Carnival) may be the most popular Venetian festivity among tourists, Redeemer Day remains the most important and authentic of local events. Tourists from every part of the world marvel while Venetians celebrate with gondola races, impressive fireworks and delicious local dishes. This feast is rich in ceremonies, performances and theatricality; it is a jolly reminder of both tragedy and gratitude.
The Feast of the Holy Redeemer takes Venetians back to 1575. Europe had been hit with one of the most deadly of plagues, making Venice loose over 50,000 people in only two years. Belief has it that it spread mainly because of rodents and the poor sanitary conditions in vessels that traveled to the East, which lead people to praise cats as a decisive solution. Others, on the other hand, turned to divine salvation, constantly praying for the plague’s extinction. The Doge of Venice, Alvise Mocenigo, went as far as promising a magnificent temple dedicated to the Savior for public devotion, should Venice survive the plague. And so it was in 1577, that the city was declared free of the plague, and the Doge commissioned famous architect Andrea Palladio to build a church in the Island of La Giudecca as a sign of humbleness and gratitude. The end of the plague was celebrated with a joyful procession that crossed a temporary bridge towards the small wooden church that would later be known as Il Redentore. The church was consecrated in 1592 by Antonio da Ponte, twelve years after Palladio’s death, but the floating bridge connecting the shores of Zattere and La Giudecca still allows visitors to reach the church during this special celebration every year. Continue reading »
|Nothing ever seems real in Venice: its beauty, its history, its art. That same feeling expands all the way over to the Island of Murano, a small island near Venice, easily reachable by vaporetto. Murano is just as rich in beauty and art; it offers the warmth and cheer one usually expects to find in small Italian towns. This island, however, possesses a very special spot that sets the place apart: Fondamenta Giustinian 8, Murano’s Glass Museum.
The palace, Palazzo Giustinian, originally built in Gothic style, was used as a residence for the bishops of Torcello, and was later acquired by the Bishop Marco Giustinian in 1659. The bishop brought many changes to the property, refurnishing and redecorating it with rich frescoes and paintings by Francesco Zugno and Francesco Zanchi.
The museum’s biggest treasure is its vast Murano Glass collection that keeps expanding thanks to constant addition of contemporary pieces. Gathering such a unique collection in one place would not have been possible without the initiative of Antonio Colleoni, then the mayor of Murano. Working together with Abbot Zanetti, Murano Glass and art enthusiast, they set out to gather and systematize Murano Glass archives detailing the history of the craft through the ages. In 1861 Colleoni opened the palace’s doors as a glass museum for the first time in 1861. It was in the grand salon where it all started – the history, the archive, the unveiling of this long forgotten art – later expanding to every room in the museum.
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Murano Glass is an art, and like any other art form it has its famous geniuses, the real artists who had talent, vision, and persistence to move it forward. In the thousand years of its existence, Murano Glass evolved from the humble beginnings of crammed Murano Island workshops of the middle ages to the international fame it enjoys today. Many famous Murano Glass artists brought about this evolution, but one of the top names and the real revolutionary in the conservative world of Murano Glass was Archimede Seguso.
Have you ever found yourself gazing at the gorgeous window displays of numerous Murano Glass stores in Venice amazed at the infinite possibilities of colors and forms, and wondering about the masters behind them? Lots of Murano Glass artisans work on the Island today and many family workshops have been proudly making Murano Glass for generations, yet none is as famous as Seguso. Behind Seguso label, lays one of Venice’s most marvelous and dazzling stories. This family name conceals secrets to masterful skills, inimitable talent and transcendent works of art.
It all started with Archimede Seguso, born on the island of Murano, in 1909.Shy, brilliant and quite distinguished, Archimede Seguso was a man of intellect, yet at the same time, he used the art of glass making to express himself. Never following any model or predefined idea, Seguso would come up with different methods and techniques never seen before in glass making. It was this boldness mixed with his genius that positioned him as a reference point for other artists and artisans.
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Everyone who visits Venice can’t help but notice the city’s special relationship with lions. In Venice lions are everywhere: on pedestals, on walls, on paintings inside Venice’s museums and churches, and even on door bells of apartment buildings. With wings and without, resting upon a book, or standing proudly on pedestals, lions seem to at once own and protect this magical city. So what is the nature of Venice’s special relationship with this mighty animal and why has Venice for centuries been inseparable from the image of a winged lion?The answer goes deep into the ancient history, all the way to the ninth century, to be exact. Having grown and developed mighty military and economic presence on the Mediterranean, by the ninth century Venice sought to establish itself as a significant regional power that would be recognized as such by neighbors close and far. Back in those days that meant boasting not just military and economic but also religious significance, giving the government additional legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens, friends, and enemies. To help with that mission, two Venetian merchants named Buono and Rustico developed a bold plan to steal the body of St. Mark from largely Muslim Egypt, where it was resting in one of Alexandria’s churches, and secretly bring it to Venice. Continue reading »
Mother’s Day is an important holiday, a day we take to express our love and make our moms feel extra-special, showering them with attention as well as gifts and treats. Mother’s Day is celebrated not only in the U.S. but all over the world, and of course Italy is no exception. Today we are going to shed a little light on what makes Italian moms and women in general so special (at least in the minds of Italians), and what role Italian moms play in the family as well as society.
If you ever visited Italian playgrounds on a weekend you would have noticed that mostly dads are there playing with kids, while moms are often chatting with their girlfriends on the side. This is not because Italian moms are too lazy to play with kids. In fact many of them dedicate all their time to kids and family, which is why every day off that dads get they often spend with their kids. Despite changing times, now like in the past, many Italian women with kids do not work outside the home. Nursery schools and kindergartens close around 1pm, while school day is over at 4pm, making it very challenging for Italian moms to do full time work outside the home. So moms care for the kids, but the term “care” doesn’t even begin to describe the commitment of moms to their kids.
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|Venice is a gorgeous city, but to feel its beauty among the crowds which fill Venice from April to October is not an easy task. The Venetians, whose number is dropping every year, also get tired of the crowds and can sometimes be a little grumpy or impatient, not to mention the high prices they tend to charge in restaurants, bars, stores, and hotels. Therefore, to have a good time when visiting Venice and to leave with nothing but the best impressions you would need to do your research and prepare for the trip ahead of time. There are tons of resources on- and off-line on visiting Venice, but most of them focus on the things you need to do in the city. We, on the other hand, decided to give you a no-less-useful guide on what NOT to do in Venice. Read our tips, memorize them, and you will surely avoid more than a few pitfalls that await a clueless visitor to Venice.
1. Do not spend your hard-earned cash on a Gondola trip
Sure, the gondolas are beautiful, romantic and one of the top things we associate with Venice. So why not have a great $100 trip along the canals (of course, if you can afford it)? Well, in the recent decades gondolas have become extremely commercialized. While there is still no better way of seeing Venice than from water, spending so much cash on gondolas is simply not the best idea. Oftentimes the gondoliers are not the smiling easy-going types you have imagined. They may not have the best voices and if they sing you something it’s likely not a local Venetian song but rather a famous Neapolitan cliché like “O Sole Mio”. The gondolas nowadays are packed with camera-toting foreign tourists, not the romantic lovers of the bygone days. A fairly short trip along the canals, a large part of which will be spent getting out of multiple gondola traffic jams, will cost you no less than $80 during the day and even more in the evening. The gondolier will likely only tell you a couple of words about some of the most famous buildings, nothing that could amount to a “tour” they may have sold you.
Instead, go to one of several Traghetto stops and cross the Grand Canal in an authentic Venetian Gondola for mere pennies! Traghetto is a no-frills real gondola that carries passengers between the picturesque banks of the Grand Canal in places where there are no bridges. It’s the transport frequently used by Venetians who often catch a traghetto to do their daily shopping or return home with the bags of produce. Venetians typically stand in the traghetto, but you can sit and take in the gorgeous sights – no one will frown. The best routes are between the Fish Market near Rialto to Santa Sofia and from Punta della Dogana to Piazza San Marco. Continue reading »