I stepped off the train, previously having visited the charming town of Verona, gathered my bags, took a breath of fresh air, and strolled outside. What lay before me absolutely stunned me. The street going from somewhere you can walk, to somewhere you swim. Ferry boats and gondolas cruising by, creating waves, crashing up onto the sidewalk. People dotting the many bridges surrounding the train station, cell phones in hand, snapping away.
Upon arriving to Venice I knew that it was the “City of Water”, but actually seeing it? Now that is a different story. And although I spent three days in this majestic city, I felt as though I had barely scratched the surface. Like a part of it was still hidden away, waiting to reveal its true beauty for another time. And although three days was surely not enough to see the entirety of Venice, it was enough before I began to tire of the tourists that crowded the bridges and skinny alleyways.
Visiting Venice – A Love/Hate Relationship
Overall I experienced a love/hate relationship with Venice. Waking up before sunrise, figuring out the winding alleyways alone. With nobody around to run into or hollering at you to move quicker. Alone, Venice is a treat unbeknownst to those who choose to sleep in. But as it begins to come alive the higher the sun rises, that is when it transforms into a city I could live without. One with Italians pushing you to buy something you really don’t want. Or carrying your bags across bridges, even though you insist on doing it yourself, and then demanding to be paid for it. A city so completely overrun with tourists, you can’t see in front of you or behind you. A place where instead of strolling through the streets and exploring hidden gems, you’d rather cozy up inside and watch the world go by behind glass, wine in hand.
So while I enjoyed Venice, a lot of my time was spent hopping from bar to bar, trying the different Venetian tapas, and drinking glass after glass of Italian wine. And sometimes upon arrival to a place you’ve never been, you have to accept that it might not be what you were expecting. And instead, you realize that the beauty in a city can be found in its food, drinks, or just good conversation with the locals. Sometimes you realize that a city is best felt and learned not by stressing out about standing in line for hours for “the picture”, or paying boatloads of money to ride a gondola. And that is what I am sharing with you, a way to experience Venice behind the glass, away from the tourists who crowd the bridges and streets. A better way to experience Venice, through its food; a Venetian tapas tour.
What are Venetian Tapas?
Like Spain, Venetian tapas are small plates of food served in bars across town. These small plates are typically referred to as “Cicchetti” and commonly include some sort of sandwich, olives, seafood, meat, and fried finger foods. The tradition of eating Cicchetti is with your fingers or toothpicks, usually standing around the counter where the food is displayed, and typically complete with a glass of white wine known as “Ombra”. Cicchetti bars around the city are usually full in the mornings to late afternoons when it’s popular for locals to gather for a bite to eat and an “Ombra”.
Where to Find the Best Tapas in Venice, Italy
Cantina Do Mori
Cantina Do Mori is a dark and cozy hangout, with tons of character, no tables, and little bar space. A bar that has been around since the 14th century, order a few of whatever looks best! Pair with a glass of Italian wine, and enjoy standing by the bar chatting with locals or friends. While this place wasn’t my favorite for the food, their laid-back, lazy atmosphere was what I was there for. A bit grungy and hidden away, the perfect escape from the crowds that await you outside.
Next to Cantina Do Mori you’ll see Bar All’Arco. While I had originally planned on skipping Bar All’Arco (the interior didn’t look too inviting), I sat and observed locals coming and going. I decided that a place where locals hang out is a place that I want to try. Luckily, I was far from disappointed. With a livelier atmosphere, Bar All’Arco was still small so expect to be shoulder to shoulder with people or have to spill out on the streets. But trust me, you don’t want to miss the tapas here.
Because Black Jack is near the Rialto Bridge and the more touristy side of Venice, the tapas were more expensive and you didn’t see many locals hanging around. However! Don’t let that deter you. The atmosphere was great, the food was good, and the drinks were incredible! The Aperol Spritz was one of the best I’ve had.
Un Mondo Divino
One of the best cicchetti restaurants in Venice is Un Mondo Divino. A compact wine bar, you’ll find a different array of tapas to choose from each one tastier than the last. Of all of the tapas bars listed, make sure to make Un Mondo Divino a priority.
While Venice is bursting with charm and personality, it is a place you either love or hate. Overrun with tourists and pushy locals, if you find yourself disappointed in the city… take solstice in the food. Although I only mentioned a few tapas places, there are tons of hole-in-the-wall places on every street. Step inside, away from the crowds, and regroup. See the magic of Venice in the mornings when fewer people are around. And once the tour boats start to arrive stay indoors and indulge in the food. If you visit Venice this way, you’re sure to walk away with pleasant memories.
Are you planning to visit Italy? Don’t miss these guides to my favorite Italian cities: