Just a couple of months ago when I was living in Venice, I made the decision to return back to Australia as Covid-19 was taking a huge toll on Italy.
I already miss the alfresco dining, the Italian coffee and the aqua streets. During this ‘unprecedented era’, we’ve had more free time than ever before which means now is a great opportunity to start planning your future travels.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that the only time to visit Europe is during the summer months in the middle of the year. Places like Venice are just as beautiful in the cooler seasons, with street vendors selling mulled wine (alcohol to-go, yes please!) and the swarms of people are lessened, making it an ideal time to plan a visit.
There is no doubt that when arriving in Venice you will get lost! However, getting lost in a city is the best way to discover all of its hidden treasures. Venice has some of the most amazing architecture – from medieval bridges to grand marble churches – and not to mention, the beautiful, famous artwork collected inside.
The North Eastern city is also home to many delicious and renowned cocktails (like Aperol Spritz) as well as incredible restaurants dotted around the islands. From margarita pizza to traditional Venetian dishes, Venice has it all.
Some of the wold’s most famous cocktails were born among the canals in Venice. Some of these include the Bellini and the Spritz, making it one of the best cities on the map to grab a good ol’ drink. Venice is famous for its aperitivo (aperitif), which consists of a bitter cocktail and finger food – generally eaten before lunch or dinner.
Typically, the drink of choice in Venice was the Spritz Veneziano, but now the Aperol Spritz triumphs, and they can be found at every bar across the region. A personal favourite of mine for a late afternoon aperitivo while watching the sunset is Osteria Al Squero. Found on a side street in the heart of Dorsoduro, a neighbourhood on the Southern side of the city, Osteria Al Squerois a local hotspot for students and Venetians, lining the small canal Spritz in hand, every night of the week.
For less than five euro, you can get a spritz of choice and two pieces of finger food (Cicchetti), making it an ideal spot for a quick fix any time of day. The pièce de résistance is of course the amazing view across the canal at a gondola repair workshop – definitely a must-see while enjoying the islands.
Location: Osteria Al Squero; Dorsoduro, 943, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
My at home alternative: Campari with Soda and homemade cicchetti
-Tomato Basil Cicchetti:
Cut a few slices of Italian bread, like you’re making bruschetta.
Chop up tomatoes, add a few fresh basil leaves, drizzle over with a great Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can add cheese of choice or some nice salty olives!
Read more about Venice aperitivo here.
For wine-lovers like myself, Venice is simply paradise, especially in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice (Cannareggio – the Northern side) that is lined with small wine bars. A cult favourite among many is Al Timon, serving hundreds of wines (and of course spritz) and Cicchetti (the Venetian finger food). For something that's a little more on the pricey side, you can either eat and drink inside (perfect for cold winter nights) or grab your drink and go sit outside in the ‘sitting area’, a converted boat on the canal.
Location: Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
Traditional Venetian food
It always amazes me when I think about how Venice was built over water.
The only thing holding up the city are thousands of wooden poles half submerged into the mud. I swear I could sometimes feel it move! Being in the middle of a lagoon, most of the specialities found on the islands are seafood dishes. Sworn to secrecy by my friends in Venice, I was introduced to the most amazing fried fish shop in the city: Fritto Inn.
It’s a traditional Venetian fish stall that is strictly take-away only – but be warned, the seagulls are ruthless! Just like they are in Bondi. From calamari rings to anchovies, Fritto Inn has everything you could want all wrapped up and ready to-go. My absolute favourites are the calamari (nine euro) or the latterini (small fish-like whitebait) for six euro. This local favourite has a limited supply and generally sells out by the evening, so you better get in quick!
Location: Campo San Leonardo, 1587, 30121 Cannaregio, Venezia VE, ItalyPizza and Gelato
My at home alternative : Fishmongers (Bondi) – The salt & pepper calamari (extra salt for me!).
My Nonno (grandfather) once told me not to trust anyone who doesn’t like pizza. He has a point… who doesn’t like pizza?! Italy, the home of cheesy bread, has many unique varieties found across the country – from pizza napoletana from Napoli and pizza al taglio from Rome.
All across the country, you will find slight differences between the dough, toppings and the way it is shaped. Venice is home to one of my favourite pizzerias in the whole country. Although it’s technically a beer house, the pizza is outrageously delicious. Birraria La Corte serves many different types of pizza, from traditional flavours to quirky adaptations (like adding slow roasted pork – yum!). Birraria La Corte is only a a short walk from Rialto in the neighbourhood of San Polo, separated from San Marco by the Canale Grande (Grand Canal). The place is perfect for a bite to eat with friends after a long day exploring the city.
Location: Campo S. Polo, 2168, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
My at home alternative: Pizza Al Taglio (Surry Hills) – The four cheese pizza
Venice is a must-see place not only for its beautiful sights but also for its culinary culture. There is something about its history, wine and food made on the Islands that has you appreciate the city even more. Although travel is currently restricted, I hope you can all enjoy my at-home alternatives to help make the wait just a little bit shorter!