Venice, post-lockdown, is still about the cicchetti

I don’t know if it’s just me but even after leaving Venice I feel like I’m still swaying on a pier waiting for the vaporetto. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it was one too many spritzes or a little bit of Venice’s version of Stendhal’s syndrome (also called Florence syndrome, from the feeling of dizziness and like you might faint after being exposed to the great beauty of the Renaissance city that I call home) but my head is still spinning after an intense weekend in Venice!

After seeing Florence’s centre so uniquely quiet and tourist-free, I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Venice in a similar state (minus the dreaded cruise ships too!), so we brought the kids, met up with some good friends from Trento for a weekend of cicchetti-ing and enjoying having the place to ourselves. However, it was busier than I expected, particularly on Sunday, and it was very hot (especially on the vaporetto, where we were squeezed in like sardines, masks on but not a lot of social distancing happening there otherwise), reminding me why I love Venice (and Florence) so much in the autumn and winter. Once meeting up with our Venetian friends too we had six kids in tow (2 in prams to carry over a bridge every 2 minutes) so it was quite the endeavour! But the thing I have always loved about Venice, even pre-pandemic, is that that it has plenty of quiet pockets, backstreets and wide campi where there are no crowds, but just the peace and pace of neighbourhoods coming back to life and people enjoying being outside.

In 2016 I wrote a blog post called The Venice List with a handy list of some favourite things about Venice.  They’re all still favouries but here are some more to add to that.

The Venice List II

Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio — here the kids played in the tree-filled piazza while the adults drank spritzes of all colours (Select, Cynar and Aperol!) at Al Bagolo. There are plenty of benches for people watching and there is also a handy Coop supermarket here and a water fountain to fill up water bottles.

Orsoni Venezia 1888 — Our good friend Edoardo was one of the architects who helped restore this stunning artisan mosaic workshop (the only one in Venice that makes glass mosaics in an ancient onsite furnace) so he was able to give us a personal tour. If you find some way to get in here (perhaps during the Biennale or some other special event) and see it’s “colour library” of 3,500 coloured glasses, it is one of the most fascinating places I’ve seen in Venice, just a testament to what a unique city it is especially for artisans, creatives and the arts.

Cicchetti — I have written a lot about my favourite cicchetti bars and I can happily say the ones I’ve written about earlier are still up there on my favourites list but also I would add Antica Mola, the new addition to Timon in Cannareggio. We had excellent oysters, shucked to order, and delicious cicchetti with fresh prawns and fennel and juicy, still warm polpette di tonno washed down with prosecco.

Fondaco dei Tedeschi Rooftop — Simply a stunning 360C view over the rooftops of Venice at the elegant Fondaco dei Tedeschi palazzo turned department store, conveniently right by the Rialto bridge. As numbers are limited you need to reserve your spot to go up there but it is free (and yes, there is an elevator).

Torcello Island — we spent Sunday on the island of Torcello at Taverna Tipica Veneziana with our Venetian friends. The draw card was the ample outdoor eating area, plus fun stuff for all the kids (goats, rabbits and playground equipment!). The food is classic Venetian, simple, no-frills, but aimed to please, a little like eating at nonna’s. We had squid stewed with tomatoes and peas and prawns in saor as antipasto, then fried calamari, bigoli in salsa (anchovy and onion sauce) and tiramisu.

Rialto market — I know, it’s always on my lists. But it’s just my favourite thing to do. Coffee and cornetto at Caffe del Doge sitting out in a backstreet, then second breakfast at All’Arco (for baccalà mantecato and a glass of prosecco), then a stroll around the market where I bought things for cooking dinner at our friends’ place: zucchini flowers from the island of Sant’ Erasmo (fried in batter after being filled with mozzarella and anchovies), line-caught sea bass (roasted with lemon and parsley), calamari for frying, razor clams (grilled quickly then tossed in a hot pan with samphire and dressed with lemon, olive oil, parsley and garlic).

Not everything was open, like many things around town, which sadly means some are finding it hard to reopen after lockdown but I am hopeful that Venice finds a way to come back, finding some balance, minus the cruise ships and mass hordes to blossom. Speaking of which, here is some interesting reading on the future of Venice and sustainable tourism that I highly recommend:

Venice Tourism May Never Be the Same. It Could be Better (New York Times)

Sail Away, No Seriously Sail Away (Prior)

It’s an Exciting Beginning: Venice Opens to Tourists (Guardian)

The Trampling of Venice Shows Why Tourism Must Change After Covid-19 (Guardian)

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Comments

  1. Katie says:

    Emiko, great minds! We were in Venice the exact same weekend with our toddler and dog — how I would’ve loved to have your recommendations before we went (or better yet, been able to share a meal — I know that’s weird since I’m an internet stranger).

    I was looking up places on your list to mark for next time, and it turns out we ended up at a few of the same places by chance, including the Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio! We managed to tour some of the lagoon though we hired a boat, since we also found the vaporetto surprisingly crowded when we arrived. We will have to explore Torcello next time for sure. Taverna Tipica looks wonderful for kids! (Have you been to Fattoria degli Animali La Collinara near Comacchio? It’s a very similar concept with a restaurant and playground. My daughter got to ride a horse and we were given a huge basket of food to feed the rescue animals — very fun for all of us.

    Now you have me thinking we should try to squeeze in a weekend in Florence, too, during this unique time.

    • Emiko Davies says:

      Hi Katie, what a coincidence! I actually have a post on traveling through Venice with a little one (http://www.emikodavies.com/blog/eating-playing-in-venice-with-a-little-one/) but I didn’t have Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio in that one! Taverna Tipica was great for the kids, aside form the animals, even the climbing and playground equipment, the garden and just generally laid back atmosphere made it a fantastic spot for families. I haven’t been to Comacchio yet but that sounds IDEAL! In Florence, a similar place is Fattoria di Maiano, which is very close to where we live but we love going there for lunch for the same reason, lots of animals, a playground, just a lovely day out for everyone!

  2. David says:

    These pictures are fantastic! Do you take them? What does “Processed with VSCO with a6 preset” mean?

    Thanks for the great work!

    • Emiko Davies says:

      Thank you, yes I took these with my phone (although I usually post photos taken with my DSLR). Sorry that caption was a mistake, it comes up automatically – I use the VSCO app on my phone to edit photographs!

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