Venice (Venezia) or ‘the floating city’ is one of the most iconic and talked about places in Italy. Just to put some of the rumours to bed – Venice is undeniably a tourist hotspot, there are a fair few pigeons in St. Mark’s Square and some of the canals are indeed a bit smelly. It’s clear that the city has lost some of its former charm with certain areas now lined with stalls selling cheap hats and masks.
However, Venice has proven to be one of the most unexpected foodie destinations on our tour. Once you venture off the beaten track and out of the San Marco area, you can find great bars, restaurants and deli’s at reasonable prices. In the quiet backstreets you can also see some of the more narrow and picturesque canals, having avoided the main gondola routes on the grand canal.
We spent most of our time wandering through the areas of San Polo & Cannaregio. The streets here are quiet but there are plenty of artisan deli’s and stylish wine bars to keep you busy. The first thing we noticed is that prosecco is really cheap here, so naturally we sampled as much as possible. Prosecco is produced locally in the Veneto region so you should never may more than €3.50-€4 for a nice glass. If you’re paying more than that, you’re in a touristy area/bar. In some places it was only €2.50, although usually a bit flat.
In San Polo we found a lovely little deli called La Bottiglia on a corner overlooking one of the canals. They use mostly organic produce and had an incredible selection of cured meats & cheeses. Their house drink was prosecco with fresh strawberry purée which was delicious- like a really fruity Bellini. We stopped here for a cappuccino in the morning, then couldn’t resist coming back for a deli platter and some prosecco over lunch. This place is really worth a visit – a great value hidden gem in Venice.
On the way to St. Mark’s Square you pass by the Rialto markets where local chefs go to get the freshest seafood and groceries. If you’re a Bond fan you will recognise this market from a Casino Royals scene. Venice is renowned for its seafood, and if you go to the market you will see why- It’s all so fresh, which makes a huge different in terms of flavour and texture.
If you’re in the north of Italy, Venice is definitely worth a full day trip, and for prosecco lovers maybe even a couple of days. Although the hotels here are ridiculously overpriced so it’s probably best to stay elsewhere and get a cheap train in.