Venice: Fairytales, Dreams and Eating Like a Local
Venice. Is there any other place in the world like it?
I’ve visited maybe 5 or 6 times but in all honesty, it’s never been the kind of city that had me think, “Gee I wish I lived here”.
On this most recent visit, I realised why. I managed to articulate why living in a city like Venice seemed, well not unattractive, just not really all that feasible.
In a nutshell – it’s because this place just doesn’t feel real!
And nobody lives in the not-real… do they?
Venice is so goddamn breathtakingly beautiful, so sexy, so ridiculously pretty at every turn that it has you thinking, this is a fairytale city. With its winding canals, bridges, colours – it’s a city on its own island with gondolas for major transport for crying out loud – it has filmset like qualities that literally blow your mind.
Even on the coldest of days in the harsh north Italian winter, Venice shines like the impossible beauty she is and if anything, icy December is a great time to visit. With some 15 million tourists cramming the place annually, the off season is just perfect to beat the crowds. Hotels offer better rates, you can move around easier and restaurants aren’t as busy.
A tourist mecca, it can be hard to find quality food and Venice is known for it’s extortionist dining prices. But with some local tips and a Venetian foodie taking me around this week, I struck gold.
The Venetian thing to do is eat at a bacaro – a local word for an osteria or casual restaurant. You have ombré e cicchetti – wine and bar snacks; a Venetian style tapas of sorts. These usually consist of cured meats, cheese and fish (especially baccalà – salt cod) served on small pieces of bread. Other than wine, the spritz cocktail (aperol, prosecco and soda) and prosecco are the drinks of choice here. And one Venetian I spoke to said that despite popular culture and tourist menus, the Bellini cocktail is not. He said most Venetians would never have even tried one.
The highlight of this very short trip were the meatballs I ate at the well known La Vedova (translates to ‘The – female – Widow’), otherwise known as Cà D’Oro.
Located in the Cannareggio neighbourhood, head here – if anything – just for the meatballs. Eat whatever else you want (their cicchetti – especially the sarde in saor – sweet and sour sardines – are also great and their menu of pasta and second courses pretty good too) but just don’t leave without trying the meatballs.
Here’s my round up of must eats for when you next visit:
(I’ll say it again!) Crumbed fried meatballs
@ La Vedova
Cicchetto with baccalà mantecato
Baccalà (salt cod) purée
@ La Vedova
@ Cantina do Spade
Sarde a Saor
Sweet and sour sardines – marinated sardines with onion, pinenuts and raisins
@ La Vedova
Cicchetto with Baccalà al Aglio
Cicchetti with local cheese, radicchio and walnut + white fish with lardo (lard), red peppercorns and cranberries
@ Osteria al Squero
And so on a full stomach I returned to Rome feeling as though I had left a little piece of my heart in this living, breathing fairytale city of canals, gondoliers and merchant spirit.
Well perhaps fairytales are dreams. And just sometimes in life, dreams do come true.
Never say never.
Venezia. Until. We. Meet. Again.
Signing off from Trastevere
This post is dedicated to my sister who lived in Venice for a little while and absolutely loves the place. I feel close to her every time I visit1