Arriving in Venice is like landing on the moon — while I haven’t quite been to the moon, I imagine the feeling, looking out after opening the space shuttle portal, is the same as when Venice’s Santa Lucia train station doors slide open.
Disbelief. Awe. Magic. It can’t be real — A prominent church right on a canal, pink street lamps, Riva boats moving gracefully from right to left, left to right, gondolas rocking sinuously, a majestic bridge, pigeons clapping their wings. A perfectly orchestrated symphony, welcoming you to planet Venice.
Once you step into it, life as you knew it halts. Venice requires and demands your full attention — you don’t ease into Venice you dive into it. You’ll explore it by foot, by water, getting lost through the calle (Venetian streets), enjoying coffee or wine with cichetti standing as the venetians would advise,and walking through the mercato di Rialto, with a conviction that one day you’ll live there just for the sake of having the pleasure of cooking all that “ben di dio” (god goods).
Don’t be afraid of the “aliens” — the endangered, presumptuous looking but extremely friendly species that hold the secret to a good life — Venetians are those lucky enough to be born and grow up in a city on water, proud, fatalistic and extremely full of humor they are the only ones that consider their surroundings normal… when in reality Venice is everything but ordinary.
To grasp Venice’s spirit a weekend is enough, to learn it’s secrets a lifetime might be needed… but here is a shortcut, to make sure you avoid the unnecessary noise and jump to its core, the places that do truly represent Venice:
Breakfast / Coffee
Pasticceria Tonolo — A real institution and our sweet tooth fix. When we come to Venice, we never skip Tonolo for a morning cappuccino and cream pastries.
Pasticceria Rizzardini — Old school, tiny, local and buzzing with some of the best veneziane alla crema (traditional fried pastries filled with cream) in town!
Midday Prosecco / Lunch / Cichetti
Al Merca — authentic, genuine, and simple. A tiny bacaro (a traditional Venetian tavern/wine bar) on a little square right by the Rialto market. Stand in the square and enjoy a drink and their cicchetti (venetian antipasto) to put your hunger on pause post or pre-market shopping.
Bacareto Da Lele — A safe harbor, a place where you can arrive and find comfort in simplicity, a piece of what Venice truly is. Here, from morning till night you’ll find Venetians of all ages: from the retirees to families with young children.
Cantine del Vino già Schiavi — Historic Venetian bacaro, known between the locals as “il bottegon”, a meeting place in the city for over a hundred years.
Micromega — Hand-crafted, tailor made eyewear made in Venice. More than eyeglasses we like to consider them jewelry for the eyes — lenses are fastened by hand with a special titanium thread, combined with precious and technological materials such as natural horn and carbon fiber.
Pied a Terre — The queen of all slippers, the furlane. The gondolier slippers turned into a trend, a very chic and addictive one. The more the merrier!
Gabriele Gmeiner — In the midst of the tourists packed streets Gabriele workshop is noticeable only by connoisseurs; the ones with a flair for life’s finest things. A under the radar workshop belongs to shoemaker Gabriele Gmeiner, who hand makes the finest shoes in Venice.
Lido — a no frills swimwear label, conceived and entirely handcrafted in Venice; from its name, inspired by Venice’s famous coast, to its production.
Micheluzzi Glass — a collection of handmade glass designed by Elena and Margherita Micheluzzi. The daughters of Venetian glass artist Massimo Micheluzzi, the two sisters are continuing the family tradition by developing a new line focused on glass homeware. Each piece in the collection is unique, hand blown in Murano in collaboration with skilled artisans and finished with techniques that transform the surface and perception of glass.
Scala contarini del bovolo
T Fondaco dei Tedeschi
Harry’s Bar — If you are looking for a drink with a ton of history opt for the incomparable Harry’s Bar. A place with a story and feel of other times. Here a bellini is mandatory – so is the negroni and martini.
Al Covo — or Da Cesare, for the habitué. A certainty. A refined family run restaurant, with an ever changing menu. If available order their fritto misto.
Antiche Carampane – we have a great love for this place, it might be for the homey feel, the extra effort you need to put in to find it, for the fried crispy zucchini and the gnocchetti alla Granseola we daydream about….somehow this place fully captures the Venice we love: authentic, simple but never ceases to surprise us.