Venice Bites’ Food and Travel Guide
– Our Favorites –
Trying to find the best of anything is not intuitive, especially in a city like ours. It is our mission to show everyone who visits us the best Venice has to offer, from her unique charm, undeniable beauty, delicious foods, local customs, and most of all, the Venetians themselves. To help you enjoy your visit here, we have put together a list of our favorite eateries, attractions, and places to stay. We have also included a list of Venetian delicacies that should not be missed, as well as a handy glossary to help you navigate menus! And of course, if you’d like us to show you our favorites in Venice, and enjoy a day or an evening eating and drinking out on the town, we offer two food tours around the city. Our daytime “Off the Eaten Path” tour covers the neighborhoods of Dorsoduro and San Polo. Our evening “Progressive Dinner” walks through the Cannaregio neighborhood. We hope to see you here!
Classic Venetian Food and Drink
Baccala Mantecato is the most traditional food in Venice. It is literally in every eatery in this city (aside from the pizza and kebab places). And it is in every Venetian’s refrigerator at home. We normally eat this every single day.
Baccalà is made from from dried cod, called stockfish. In the days before refrigeration, people needed ways to preserve foods for longer periods, and so drying was a preferred option.
In fact, the drying of food is the world’s oldest known preservation method, and dried fish has a storage life of several years as long as it kept dry. Traditionally, stockfish was dried only by the wind and the sun, hanging on lines or lying on planks or tiles.
In Venice, when it’s ready to use, the fish is submerged in water for three days, periodically changing out the water, until the fish is rehydrated. Then it is poached in milk to cook it. Once it’s drained, you have good clean cod meat. Then, it is whipped vigorously with olive oil, salt and pepper, until it’s at the cook’s preferred texture, which can be chunky all the way to creamy smooth. It can also be flavored, most commonly with garlic and herbs or tomato. It is traditionally served on slices of bread or on grilled polenta, but it can be found in anything, from sandwiches to main courses.
The deep fried meatball. These are served everywhere in Venice. The recipe developed as similar foods were developed around the world, in an effort to stretch meat supplies. Often meat was scarce and none could afford to be wasted, so small amounts of meat (or meat that perhaps had turned a bit as well) was combined with stale bread, herbs and spices to create a delicious meal that could serve a family. Of course, Venetians took this one step further by rolling the meatball in polenta (another staple of this region) and deep frying it. Today, you can find not only beef meatballs, but an entire range of them: tuna, eggplant, and pork, just to name a few.
Polenta is one of the main staples of the Venetian diet. History suggests that corn, of which polenta is made, came to Venice through trading, long before Europeans brought it back from the Americas during the exploration age of the 1400s. Venetians discovered that the Veneto had the perfect growing conditions for this crop, and planted it everywhere. Today, there are two main styles of serving polenta: either soft, like a porridge, or firm and grilled. Venetians also bake with polenta, turning out delicious cakes and cookies.
Sarde or Gamberi in Saor
Sarde in Saor is the second most common traditional food found in Venice. Since pickling foods was another great option for preserving, Venetian fisherman developed a recipe by taking fresh, local sardines, and cooking them with vinegar, olive oil and sweet onions. Much later, as the dish spread into the noble class, raisins and pine nuts were added to the recipe. The aristocrats hoped it would “sweeten” the breath.
Since this was a dish based on maturation, it is best eaten at least 24 hours later, giving the flavors time to develop.
Sarde in Saor’s cousin is Gamberi in Saor, the same dish and preparation, but substitutes sweet shrimp for the sardines.
The Venetian Spritz
When in Venice, you won’t be able to miss all of the people drinking either a glowing orange or bright red cocktail — the first is made with Aperol, the second is made with either Campari or Select — all three referred to as a Spritz.
The first spritz is said to be developed during the Austrian occupation of Venice in the late 1700s. It is believed that the Austrians felt the Veneto wines were too heavy and alcoholic for their tastes, so they diluted them with water. The Venetians soon transformed this, using their local sparking wine, Prosecco, and adding a liqueur, bringing back all of the full-strength alcohol to the drink. The liqueur that is added can be one of four, three of which are based on bitter orange: Campari, Select, or Aperol. The fourth, for those bitter-loving superfreaks, is Cynar, a powerfully bitter liqueur made from artichokes.
Nowadays, the traditional Spritz is made with three ingredients: three parts Prosecco, two parts of the bitter orange liqueur (and in Venice, it is traditionally made with Select), and one part soda water. It is always served over ice and garnished with a citrus wedge. In some bars, it is also garnished with a green olive.
As a note: Select liqueur can only be found in the Lagoon. It is not exported anywhere, even as close as the mainland. It was born in Venice in 1920, and here it has remained.
Rice is another crop that grew very well in the Veneto region. Again, likely acquired through trading, Venetian farmers became very skilled in rice growing, and grew a particular type that had a starchy, shorter grain. Today, risotto is more common than pasta in Venice, so you will find it on nearly every menu in a variety of flavors, most commonly with porcini mushrooms or with seafood. Seasonal varieties abound, with favorites including shrimp and asparagus or sausage and radicchio, which is a local red cabbage. Leftover risotto is often chilled, rolled into balls, stuffed with cheese, then coated in polenta and of course, the whole thing is then deep fried. These delicious orbs are called arancini, because they look like little (albeit deep fried!) oranges.
Our Favorite Eateries
We always support and patronize local, Venetian owned eateries. We never go to chains; they don’t need our money. It is getting harder and harder for the local families to keep their businesses open, due in large part to rising rents caused by these chains and other foreign investors who are willing and able to pay these rates, effectively forcing Venetians out. We try to do our part by choosing where we spend our money. Rest assured that every eatery listed here is Venetian-owned and operated. The establishments with a ♥ mark locations we visit on our tours.
Gia Schiavi ♥
Our favorite bacaro in the city. Visit Signora Alessandra, her sons and longtime employees for the best cicchetti in Venice.
Address: Dorsoduro 992
Open: Monday – Saturday 8:30am – 8:30pm, Closed Sunday
Bar Foscarini ♥
Family owned and operated since 1990, come to Bar Foscarini to meet Luisa and Adriano, along with their two sons, Paolo and Simone (and of course, dog Byron) for some of the best hospitality in Venice. Enjoy an unparalleled view of the Accademia Bridge and the Grand Canal, while enjoying a Spritz or a Caffe Corretto.
Address: Dorsoduro 878C
Vaporetto stop: Accademia
Bar alla Toletta ♥
Simply put, the absolute best tramezzini sandwiches in Venice.
Address: Dorsoduro 1191
La Bottega del Gusto ♥
This little market is owned by two sisters, Marta and Teresa. This is one of our personal, everyday shops. It is here that we get Burratina Affiumicata.
Address: Dorsoduro 3762
Open Monday through Saturday
Il Doge Gelateria ♥
One of our favorite gelato shops in the city. Family owned by cousins Massimiliano and Mauro, who are also the gelato chefs, since 1986. Try their house specialty, Crema del Doge, which is a zabaglione gelato mixed with dark chocolate and candied orange peel.
Address: Dorsoduro 3058A
La Barca Frutta e Verdure San Barnaba ♥
One of our favorite produce stands — this one happens to be on a barge! Owned and operated by brother/sister team Fabio and Diana, along with Maurizio, Marco, Michele, and Fabio Jr., this is a wonderful spot for buying Venice’s beautiful local produce. Unlike in the grocery stores where you may pick through the produce yourself (as long as you put on the provided plastic gloves), proper etiquette for purchasing produce from independent sellers means point or ask for what you would like, but please no touching.
Address: Dorsoduro 2837
Open Monday through Saturday
Vaporetto stop: Ca’ Rezzonico
Pasticceria Rizzardini ♥
Rizzardini is one of six original pastry shops in Venice, and is the last remaining. Opened in 1742, it has been owned and operated by two husband and wife teams, Nicola and Carlotta, and Paolo and Anna along with pastry chef extraordinaire Paolo, since 1981. Though everything in the showcase is outstanding, it is here that you will find a dessert that is made nowhere else in the city, or the world: Sfera di Casanova.
Address: San Polo 1415
Open Wednesday through Monday, Closed Tuesdays
Vaporetto stop: San Tomà
Bacaro al Ravano
Rock’n’Roll atmosphere – check. Warm vibe, friendly staff – check. Great place to have a drink and a snack while people watching, thanks to the large walls of windows. Nicolo, the owner, is young and hip and is a great host.
Address: San Polo 1047
Vaporetto stop: Rialto Mercato
Antico Pizzo Risorto
Tucked away in a corner of a hidden alleyway, Antico Pizzo serves the best the Rialto Market has to offer. In fact, you will see Chef Ricky early every morning at the market, selecting all of the seasonal fresh fish and produce that he will cook for you that day. We have also think we may have found our ultimate pasta carbonara right here.
Address: San Polo 814
Vaporetto stop: Rialto Mercato
This is Venetian fast food — fresh pasta on the go. Owner Beppe prides himself on delivering great quality pasta, made in-house all day, topped with a choice of nine different sauces. For €5, you can’t go wrong for something quick, warm and fresh to fill the gap so you can continue exploring Venice.
Address: San Polo 3829
Vaporetto stop: San Tomà
Acqua & Mais
Handsome, young Alvise operates this walk-up eatery with his father Andrea, and father-in-law Paolo. This is THE place to get Venice’s famed fritto misto (fried fish) served in a cone with hot fresh polenta.
Address: San Polo 1411
Vaporetto stop: San Tomà
A beautiful spot for an afternoon Spritz, right along the Grand Canal. Owner Stefano, along with staffers Michela and Giulia, will take great care of you.
Address: San Polo 120
Vaporetto stop: Rialto Mercato
Pasticceria Targa ♥
Targa has been serving up some of the city’s best pastries for over a century, still owned and operated by the same family. Come inside to meet Chief Baker Cinzia, her husband Alessandro, and his brother Marco. Everything in the showcase is absolutely to die for (and trust us, we have done the required research!). We have one word for you: Babà.
Address: San Polo 1050
Open Tuesday through Saturday
Vaporetto stop: Rialto Mercato
This is a perfect spot to enjoy a Spritz while taking in the sights of the Grand Canal. Owner Umberto and his trusted staff will make you our favorite Spritz in the city.
Address: San Polo 130
Vaporetto stop: Rialto Mercato
Muro Frari ♥
Venice is not known for beef. Seafood is king, with pork a close second. But one cannot live on fish alone, so for carnivore cravings head to Muro Frari. They offer several gorgeous steaks. We always go for the chateaubriand for two — €50 will get you a massive hunk of meat and perfect roasted potatoes. This and a few glasses of house red, maybe add in a caprese salad, and you’ll have more food than you can eat for less than €70. It’s served fairly rare, and they filet it tableside, so we ask them to leave the sizzling hot plate and we finish cooking ours just slightly to medium rare. If you are feeling really indulgent, order a side of our favorite green peppercorm sauce.
Address: San Polo 2604
Vaporetto stop: San Tomà
Lovely little bar, serving great wines and local street food, the owners are young and hip and passionate about doing everything right.
Address: San Polo 2537, in Campo San Stin
Vaporetto stop: San Tomà
Ca’ D’Oro alla Vedova ♥
Family owned since 1891, Alla Vedova serves the best polpette (deep fried meatballs) in all of Venice. The restaurant is small so reservations are most definitely needed. Nothing on the menu is over €12.
Address: Cannaregio 3912
Open Friday through Wednesday, Closed Thursdays
Vaporetto stop: Cà D’Oro
Un Mondo DiVino ♥
A real local bar housed in a former butcher shop. A dizzying array of cicchetti can be found here, along with three of the most helpful and friendly bartenders in the city: Michele, Diego and Marco. Try the speck and robiola, the spicy pepper stuffed with cheese, and the tuna parmesan and sweet pepper.
Address: Cannaregio 5984
Ai Promessi Sposi ♥
Meaning “The Betrothed”, Ai Promessi Sposi is one of those restaurants you always hope you will stumble on and discover on your travels. Small quarters, handwritten menu in Italian only, full of locals every night. They do some of the best vegetable cicchetti in town. Nothing on the menu is over €16.
Address: Cannaregio 4367
Vaporetto stop: Ca’ D’Oro
Ai DiVini ♥
One of our top favorite bacaros in the city. Owner Matteo, along with Claudia and Luca, some of the most amazing staff anywhere, will guide you through their offerings. They serve quality wines, and amazing meat and cheese platters. Don’t miss their back courtyard, where you will find us many nights, drinking wine under laundry hanging on lines above our heads.
Address: Cannaregio 5905
Osteria Riccio Peoco ♥
Owners Donato and Roberta run one of the tiniest bacaros in Venice, but do not mistake this place for a shrinking violet. Donato, who is also the chef, is a retired Murano glassblower, a hippie at heart, and loves to blast The Beatles, Abba, and Earth, Wind & Fire through the house speakers. The must-have here is Donato’s creation, the Scrocchio. It’s not on any menu — in fact, there is no menu here — so you have to ask him for it by name.
Address: Cannaregio 4462
Vaporetto stop: Ca’ D’Oro
Trattoria Storica ♥
A simple trattoria serving some of the best Venetian seafood dishes in town. the branzino al forno is a favorite. Don’t neglect their risottos — especially the verdure. Owners Tony and Stefano, along with Jack, Davide, and Marco will take great care of you. Be sure to say ciao to chefs Lele and Paolo — they perform magic from their tiny kitchen.
Address: Cannaregio 4858
Open Monday through Saturday, Closed Sunday. Lunch and Dinner
Vaporetto stop: Fondamenta Nove
A legendary Venetian restaurant, specializing in local seafood dishes. If you can score a reservation, you will not be disappointed. Give yourself an hour to find it — it is well off the eaten path!
Address: San Polo 1911
Open Tuesday through Saturday, Closed Sundays and Mondays. Lunch and Dinner.
Vaporetto stop: Rialto Mercato
Al Nono Risorto
Venice is not known for pizza. The best pizzas are made in wood-fired ovens and Venice outlawed them in the 1200s to mitigate fire risk. If you come to Venice thinking that you will find the best pizza of your life, you will be disappointed. Head to Naples instead! That being said, we do have one pizzeria that we personally love: Al Nono Risorto. It has a great vibe and atmosphere, including a wisteria-covered courtyard, and a massive list of pizzas. Our favorite here is the Pizza Carbonara, which is topped with one of our beautiful farm fresh eggs, with its glowing orange yolk.
Address: Santa Croce 2338
Open Thursday through Tuesday, Closed Wednesday
A tiny restaurant serving traditional Venetian cuisine with a creative, inventive twist. This is also one of the best places for vegetarian cuisine. Reservations are essential, as is a good map to find it, because it is notoriously challenging to find.
Address: Santa Croce 1762
Vaporetto stop: San Stae
Another tiny restaurant with a menu to match, specializing in Sicilian dishes. That menu? It’s on a small chalkboard and changes daily. The room is casual and festive, packed with locals in only 30 seats. Book ahead. The arancini (rice balls) just might change your life.
Address: Santa Croce 2098
Phone: +39 041 200 7667
Vaporetto stop: San Stae
Open Tuesday through Saturday, Lunch and Dinner
6342 A Le Tole
A bright, airy, modern “spaghetteria” where you can watch fresh pastas being made through their open plan kitchen. You’ll see the owner/chef there all day, every day, both in the kitchen and out in the dining area talking to every customer, in English, Italian, and French.
Address: Castello 6342
Vaporetto stop: Ospedale
Suso takes gelato to the next level. Inventive and delicious flavors that you won’t find anywhere else. Some favorites include Orient Express, which is a cinnamon gelato with crushed ginger cookies; an outstanding pistacchio with marinated cherries; and the Manet — salted carmel, pistacchio, and Nutella. To. Die. For. Bonus: their cups are edible!
Address: San Marco 5453
Vaporetto stop: Rialto Bridge
Dai Do Cancari
Wonderful wine and spirit shop off of Campo San Stefano. Tell Marco, the owner, what you are looking for and what you like, and he will find the perfect bottle for you. He also ships anywhere in the world.
Address: San Marco 3455
Vaporetto Stop: San Samuele
Gia Schiavi cicchetti
Our Top Things to Do in Venice
Yes, it’s touristy. So what? We’ve taken many and we live here! We always recommend taking a gondola ride. For half an hour, you are seeing Venice the way it was meant to be seen — by the canals. It’s a time to spend a peaceful moment, gliding through the water, without worrying about getting lost or frenzied map reading. Even though the Grand Canal is certainly iconic, we prefer taking a ride through the smaller canals in the lesser busy areas. We also prefer daytime vs night. It is €80 for the ride, but that is by the craft, not per person. Gondolas hold up to 6 passengers, so if the price is too steep for you, ask the gondolier if he can find you people to share with. He’ll do the soliciting and then you and the others split that cost amongst the group. Gondola prices are set by their union, not by the gondolier, so bargaining is not usually something you can do — if the gondolier gives you a little more time or cuts the price, know that it is coming out of his pocket. Also, it is a Hollywood (or Las Vegas) legend that gondoliers sing! Most don’t, but it doesn’t hurt to ask — you may get a lovely serenade. They can only accept cash and gratuities are always appreciated at about 10%. Other tips: if they happen to talk on their phone or smoke a cigarette, you can absolutely ask them to stop.
Vaporetto No. 1
Taking the Vaporetto No. 1, the waterbus, along the Grand Canal is a city tradition. The No. 1 line is the “slow boat,” stopping at every stop along the way. Take it from San Marco to the Ferrovia (the train station) or vice versa. Try to snag seats up front for a ringside view. All vaporetto trips cost €7.50 per person, one way. If you are here for a few days and plan to take multiple trips on the vaporetto, consider buying a travel pass for the number of days you plan to use it. A one day pass is €20, so you’ll need to use it three times in 24 hours for it to be worth it. Two day passes are €30, three day passes are €40. These passes are good for all vaporetto routes including rides to the outer islands such as Murano, Burano and Torcello. The passes can be purchased at various kiosks at certain vaporetto stations located throughout the length of the Grand Canal.
San Marco Campanile
The bell tower of the Basilica of Saint Mark reaches over 30 stories above Venice. At the top, you will see all of Venice, the surrounding lagoon, and all the way to the Dolomite mountains. The best time to get in line is about 30 minutes before closing, which varies depending on the season. The line gets shorter and once you are at the top, they don’t start to shoo you out until 15 minutes or so after closing, so if you time it right, you might have the entire observation deck to yourselves. Good news: there is a lift to take you to the top, so no climbing stairs! Also, the viewing platform is entirely encaged, so you don’t have that “overexposed” feeling. Take your best camera. For an equally stunning view from a different perspective, go to the top of the campanile of San Giorgio Maggiore.
A wonderful alternative to the views from the campanili — get to the Terrace at Fondaco dei Tedeschi. It’s completely free, rarely are there lines, and the view is simply spectacular. Open from 10am to 7pm, this is also an upscale duty-free department store.
Visiting the outer islands can be a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Hop on a vaporetto to visit the island of Murano to visit the famous glass factories; continue on to Burano to walk around its lazy streets and look at the brightly painted houses and eat something that can only be found on this island — Risotto di Goa; visit Torcello to see Venice’s first settlement; walk among the artichoke fields of our garden isle, Sant’Erasmo and stop for wine tasting at Venice’s only vineyard; or have a peaceful stroll through our cemetery island, San Michele. It’s all just s short boat ride away.
The famed fish and produce market by the Rialto Bridge is always a worthwhile adventure. The market has stood on this ground and has been continuously operating since 1097. Open Tuesday through Saturday, come here to see the freshest fish caught from the Lagoon and beyond and colorful fruits and vegetables piled high from our garden island Sant’Erasmo. You don’t need to get up at the crack of dawn to enjoy the scene, but if you do you’ll be rewarded with seeing restauranteurs and chefs selecting the fish and produce for the meals you will be eating that night. However, visiting at 8am until about 10am is prime time, when you’ll see all of the market action in full glory. The fish market closes at Noon and the produce sellers are clearing out by 2pm. Don’t miss all of the butcher shops that line the market as well.
Are You Looking to See More of Venice?
OG Venice Travel Guide is the first and only city guide of Venice to focus exclusively on artisan shops, local eateries, beaches, nightlife and provides detailed and accurate practical information about life in this most unusual city. All 100% free and online. This is not a guide to historic sites of Venice. It is about getting things you need, finding things you’ll love and having a good time while you are at it!
Just as within all of OG Venice Travel Guide, See More Venice Italy Tours are about discovering the parts of Venice that you will enjoy the most. Would you like to enjoy a glass of wine at an island vineyard overlooking the lagoon? Step inside the workshops of the best modern glass masters on Murano? Taste all of the D.O.C. cheeses produced in the Veneto? Explore the best Venetian artisan shops in the back-streets of the City? Visit a Venetian Island farm? Take a private boat ride around the islands of the northern lagoon and maybe even cast some fishing nets along the way? You won’t get a better insider look at Venice than through these excursions.
Are You Looking for a Private Historical Tour?
Then look no further than Giuseppina Giudice, owner and operator of Knowing Venice. She is a wealth of knowledge in Venetian history and architecture, and can plan a tour based on your interests and time available. She is delightful and charming, and speaks perfect English.
Visit her website: knowingvenice.com for more information.
Hotel / Apartment Recommendations
Someone’s preferred lodging is as individual to them as their taste and pocketbook will allow. Everyone has different wants and needs when it comes to accommodations. Everything from decor and amenities to central location to romantic atmosphere will weigh differently in priority. We have simply listed our favorite places to stay, without regard to the pricetag. Be prepared: Venice is not the kind of place to do bargain hotels… if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Venice can be an expensive city to sleep in, but there are some gems that just might be worth it.
We start our favorites list with a recommendation to rent an apartment. Not just any apartment; this apartment. Don’t get us wrong, we can definitely appreciate five star hotels, however more often than not, when visiting Venice before moving here, we would rent an apartment. It made us feel more like locals and we loved to be able to cook at home on a few nights, taking advantage of all the fresh ingredients the city has to offer.
The Venetian Terrace is an absolutely beautiful apartment. This personal home occupies the top two floors of a canal-side building, open to sunlight on all four sides. There is the wonderful altana (the unique Venetian rooftop wooden deck) with incomparable views of the city’s red tile roofs. It’s a sublime location very few people outside Venice have the opportunity to experience.
The deets: a two-bedroom, one bath apartment located in the Dorsoduro neighborhood. It has an updated, modern, fully-equiped kitchen, air conditioning, washing machine, flat screen TV and free wifi. And don’t forget that aforementioned altana. All of this for less than the price of any hotel. Rates range from low season prices beginning at €165 per night (€1,055 per week) up to €225 a night (€1,425 per week) in the peak seasons.
Hotel Moresco is a little jewelbox. Each of the 23 rooms are individually named and uniquely decorated. They also have a sublime courtyard garden where you can enjoy your breakfast in fine weather before your day’s adventures. Rates start at about €300 per night.
Hotel Class: ★★★★
Address: Dorsoduro 3499
Phone: +39 041 2440202
This was the hotel Maya stayed in when first visiting Venice in 1993, so it holds a very special place in our hearts. The Hotel Danieli is your true Grande Dame, elegantly occupying a beautiful stretch along the Grand Canal. It is literally right around the corner from Piazza San Marco. There is a spectacular restaurant called La Terrazza with an attached bar on the rooftop. Enjoying a Spritz while catching a sunset from here should be on everyone’s Venetian bucket list. The Danieli has 210 rooms ranging from Singles at €295 all the way to the Royal Suite which will cost €12,000 per night!
Hotel Class: ★★★★★
Address: Castello 4196
Phone: +39 041 5226480
There are just 7 rooms in this spectacular palazzo on the Grand Canal, but Hotel Al Ponte Antico is big on service and hospitality. Guests have been known to extend their holiday in Venice just based on this hotel alone. You can expect all of the amenities that you would find in a grand hotel, with individual attention that only a small hotel can provide. Rates fluctuate through the year and room category, but it’s important to note that this hotel books up far in advance.
Hotel Class: ★★★★
Address: Cannaregio 5768
Phone: +39 041 2411944
Website: Al Ponte Antico
This three-star hotel has an old-style, family feel. It’s been recently updated and has 30 rooms in the main building of the hotel. They have recently added an annex, but it’s preferred to stay in the main. Their window boxes overflowing with geraniums are a landmark along the pretty San Vio canal in Dorsoduro. This is the one place that can be a bargain if you can snag a reservation: rooms can start at €145 a night.
Hotel Class: ★★★
Address: Dorsoduro 628
Phone: +39 041 5204733
Just like our preferred places to eat, we always endorse and support Venice’s local artists and artisans. It is getting harder and harder for them, due to the massive influx of imports and knock-offs. When you see artisans at work, you know that the products you are buying are authentic, handcrafted, and local.
Artists Stefano and Valentina can be seen each day, making arguably the most beautiful masks in all of Venice. Every one is made by hand. Stefano casts each masks using plaster or paper mache, and Valentina decorates them with real gold leaf, Swarvorski crystals and feathers. There are literally hundreds of mask shops in this city, and many of them all carry the same thing. At Casin dei Nobili, you won’t see anything like this anywhere else. This is the shop we bought our own masks for Carnevale this year. (Claudio De Laurentis’ shop [see right] is just next door.]
Address: Dorsoduro 2766/B
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday
Marisa practices a dying Venetian art — she is an impiraressa, which is the art of threading and embroidering tiny glass seed beads made on the island of Murano. She turns these beads into absolutely stunning jewelry as well as embellishments on purses, shoes and clothing. She is very knowledgable about the craft as well as the history of her beloved city. Her coral necklaces are a favorite. Stop in to say hello — she is one of the warmest, kindest people you will ever meet.
Address: San Marco 3805/A
Hours: Wednesday through Monday, Closed Tuesdays
Libreria Acqua Alta
Libreria Acqua Alta is self-proclaimed ” The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World” — and we absolutely agree. Nowhere else in the world will you find a bookstore like this. It defies description and really must been seen to be believed and appreciated. Here are some things you will find: piles and piles of books stacked in a full-sized gondola and other assorted boats, canoes and bathtubs; an entire staircase made out of old encyclopedias that have petrified from the years of being subjected to flooding; big, fat happy cats lazing in the nooks and crannies. Don’t let the atmosphere distract you from the fact that this is a serious bookstore. About half of the books are brand new (and often in multiple languages) and the rest are vintage. There are also prints of old posters, vintage postcards and other emphemera. Say hello to owner Luigi and scratch a pussycat’s head. Libreria Acqua Alta is truly a wonder of Venice.
Address: Castello 5176/B
Hours: Open Daily
A landmark in Venice — the last remaining spice shop in the city, located tellingly on Calle degli Spezieri, Street of the Spice Merchants. Opened in 1948 by Luciano and Sonia, and now run by their sons, Gabriele and Gino, this is one of our favorite shops in all the city.
They still sell their top quality spices out of apothecary drawers and jars by weight, but are also purveyors of the finest teas, dried mushrooms and fruits, balsamic vinegars and more than 50 types of honey. They also sell over 600 labeled wines and spirits. Any foodie will be in heaven in Mascari.
Address: San Polo 381
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday 8am to 1pm, 4pm to 7:30pm
Claudio De Laurentis Glass
Claudio comes from a Murano glassblowing family. He and his brother have been master glassblowers for over 30 years. Their father has been doing it for over 50 years. Claudio runs a little shop full of their glass. You can see Claudio each day, sitting at his work station, turning colorful glass rods into beautiful jewelry, objet d’art, and tableware. Maya has a small addiction to his bubble-style necklaces. (Casin dei Nobili [see left] is just right next door.)
Address: Dorsoduro 2766/A
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday
The Ex Chiesa Santa Chiara is a newly restored medieval church owned and operated by a local Venetian family who have tasked themselves with the lofty goal of providing visitors with a complete experience of Murano glass at no charge and providing shoppers with a selection of authentic Murano glass that includes everything from signed antiquities to jewelry to quirky contemporary Murano glass sculptures.
Unmatched by any other shopping destination that we’ve ever seen in Venice, the Ex Chiesa Santa Chiara offers: A historical exhibit of Murano glass working tools and equipment, live demonstrations by contemporary glass masters, the opportunity to formulate your own perfumes – also a historical Venetian art – and bring them home in custom engraved bottles, an amazingly diverse selection of real Murano glass to shop from, AND a beautiful bar and live music venue, where you can sit amongst all of this, enjoying a spirit and some snacks. We hope that this shop sets the bar for how Murano glass should be shown and sold in the future. If you only make one stop on the island of Murano, this should be it.
Address: Fondamenta Daniele Marin, 1 Murano
Hours: Open Daily
Operated now by the third generation of the D’Esposito family, their mission is to offer good, simple products of the highest quality that contain within them “the flavors and aromas of our land.” This is a carefully curated shop, offering the finest chocolates, coffees, balsamic vinegars, olive oils, liqueurs and other locally made products. They have two rules: products must be strictly made in Italy and everything they produce and sell is authentic to Old World recipes and traditions. Bonus: they offer tastings on just about everything!
Address: Castello 5581
Hours: Open Daily 9am – 10:30pm
We always try to learn a few basics in any language of places we visit. We have always found that if we try to give 10%, even if we fumble it miserably, we are always met the rest of the way by locals. Here are a few key words, along with additional menu/food translations.
Please: Per Favore (Pear Fa Vor Ay)
Thank You: Grazie (Grahtz Zee Ay)
You are welcome: Prego (Pray Go)
I would like a glass of wine: Vorrei un bicchiere di vino (Vor Ay Un Beek E Air Ay Dee Vee No)
Good morning / Good day: Buongiorno (Buwon Gior No)
Good Evening: Buona Sera (Buwon Ah Ser Ah)
Good Night: Buona Notte (Buwon Ah Note Tay)
Where is the bathroom: Dov’è il bagno (Dov Ay Ill Ban Yo)
acqua frizzante: sparkling water
acqua naturale: still water
aceto balsamico: balsamic vinegar
affumicato: smoked; used to refer to smoked meats, fish, cheese etc
al dente: Italians cook pasta “al dente,” which means “to the tooth,” meaning that it still has a little bite
al forno: in the oven
antipasto: a little something that is served before the meal, or as an appetizer
arancia: orange (the fruit)
aranciata: orange drink or soda
arista: loin of pork
arrabbiata: a tomato sauce flavored with chili to make it spicy; literally means “angry”
bacaro: Venetian wine shop or wine bar serving ombra and cicchetti
baccalà mantecato: creamed cod
bicchiere: drinking glass
bistecca: steak, usually beef, but can also refer to pork or veal
alla bolognese: means in the style of Bologna, and usually refers to a slow-cooked meat sauce with vegetables and tomato
botarga: intensely flavored dried mullet or tuna roe, cut into thin shavings for use in salads and pastas
braesaola: air-dried beef fillet, served thinly sliced and uncooked in salads and antipasti.
branzino: sea bass
bruschetta: toasts, usually served with a topping of some sort as an antipasto; while the two words may be used interchangeably, bruschetta are typically larger pieces of toasts, while crostini are typically smaller
caffè: espresso coffee
caffè corretto: an espresso “corrected” with a spirit, usually grappa
carne: beef (also manzo)
cicchetti: small tastings, identical in concept to Spanish tapas, but strictly Venetian in practice
cinghiale: wild boar
contorno: vegetable side dish, usually served alongside of the main course
crema pasticcera: pastry cream, a thickened cream of milk and egg used in desserts
crostini: toasted bread like a crouton, usually served with a topping of some sort, or sometimes just a drizzle of good olive oil
crudo: uncooked, raw, rare
farro: spelt, a grain used in soups, breads and risotto-like preparations
filetto: tenderloin, filet mignon
fontina: a cow’s milk cheese made in the Valle d’Aosta region in northern Italy
frittata: an open-face omelet, made entirely on top of the stove, or started on top of the stove and completed in the oven; usually flavored with vegetables, herbs, meats or cheeses
frutti di mare: seafood
fritto misto di pesce: mixed fried fish
gelato: Italian ice cream
genovese: in the style of Genoa, which means “with basil, garlic and oil”
gnocchi: dumplings; we’re most familiar with those made with potatoes and flour, but, in Italy, they are also made with semolina, ricotta or breadcrumbs
gorgonzola: a type of cow’s milk blue cheese from the town of Gorgonzola, in the north of Italy
grana padana: hard cow’s milk cheese from northern Italy
granchio: crab (also granseola)
granita: an icy, granular frozen dessert
granseola: crab (also granchio)
grappa: a by-product of the wine-making process, where producers take the leftover seeds, stems and skins from the grapes and distill it into a 100 proof spirit
grazie: thank you
lardo: cured pork fat
manzo: beef (also carne)
marinara: a tomato sauce with garlic, olive oil and oregano
mascarpone: a fresh Italian cream cheese with a very soft, creamy texture and buttery flavor used in both sweet and savory dishes
mozzarella di bufala: cheese made from the milk of water buffalo
olio di oliva: olive oil
ombra: a small glass of house wine
parmigiano-reggiano: an excellent hard, cow’s milk cheese originally produced in and around Parma. If you’re in doubt, true pamigiano-reggiano will have those words stenciled on the rind.
pecorino: a hard sheep’s milk cheese made in the area around Rome (called Pecorino Romano), as well as in Tuscany, Sardinia and Sicily
peperoncino: a hot chili pepper used in Italian cuisine
peperoni: sweet bell peppers, not the meat we know on pizzas
per favore: please
pesto: a famous green sauce from Genoa, made with basil, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino, traditionally mashed together in a mortar and pestle
pignoli: pine nuts
polenta: both an ingredient — cornmeal — and a porridge made from cornmeal
porchetta: spit-roasted, whole suckling pig
porcini: a meaty mushroom used both fresh and dried in Italian cuisine
prego: you’re welcome
primo: the first course of a traditional Italian meal
prosciutto: although in America we think of prosciutto as a raw ham, in Italy the word simply means ham: prosciutto cotto is cooked; prosciutto crudo is raw
provolone: a sharp cow’s milk cheese.
puttanesca: a tomato sauce flavored with capers and anchovies, and often with olives, garlic and chile flakes, as well
ribolitta: a soup made with white beans, vegetables, stale bread and cheese; it means re-boiled because the soup is to be cooked, then left to stand before it is reheated
ricotta: fresh cheese traditionally made with whey that is drained off in the process of making another cheese (often Pecorino), and then cooked
risotto: a savory dish of rice cooked slowly in broth, served as a first course
salumi: a general word for cured meats including those made with ground meats, such as salami and mortadella, and whole, bone-in meats, such as prosciutto
scaloppina: a thin, pounded piece of meat, such as a veal scallop
secondo: main course of a traditional Italian meal
semifreddo: the word means “partly frozen,” and refers to an Italian dessert of molded custard or ice cream
sfuso: local house wine
speck: a ham, traditionally from the Alto Adige region of northern Italy, that is boned, cured and smoked
tartufo: a truffle, of which there are both white (bianco) and black (nero)
tiramisu: a dessert of ladyfingers soaked in espresso and layered with a cream, often made with mascarpone cheese
tramezzini: crustless, white bread sandwiches with plenty of mayonnaise
zabaglione: an egg custard made by beating egg yolks with sugar and marsala over a water bath until fluffy
Drinking Fountain Map
Below is an interactive map of the locations of over 100 fresh, clean, drinking water fountains located throughout Venice. Zoom in to find some located near you. Everyone uses these, from the locals and visitors, to the dogs and pigeons! Save your plastic bottles (and save money!) by filling up here instead!