Anyone For Venice? Your In-depth Guide To The Floating City

What you have to know about a trip to Venice

Ah Venice, it doesn’t seem real. The fairy city of the heart, an exquisite jumble of palaces, spires and turrets in the middle of a lagoon. But when you get there, enjoying Europe’s floating city can hit you hard in the wallet. As The Telegraph reports, “Venice is expensive, there’s no getting away from that. And the most expensive parts of most people’s budget when they visit the city is the hotel and cost of eating out.” They suggest with a little know-how on where to look and how to book, you can take the pain out of your hip pocket. To help you make the most of La Serenissima for a lot less, read these tips about how to stay afloat – financially speaking that is – in Venice.

When to go

Not in the summer basically. It’s jam-packed, prices rocket and it’s actually not as nice. Venice doesn’t get as stinky as it used to but it is more likely to be whiffy in the odd canal and queues for museums and the Doge’s Palace become much lengthier in the warmer months. November is an ideal time to visit, with mists rising from the canals. January is lovely too, a treat in the post-New Year slump.

Popular blogger mymelange.net says: “The landscape becomes hauntingly beautiful, with fog permeating the city and the chance of snowfall at any minute. If you like photography, this is a perfect place to capture the lightly grayed, slanted light of Venice – winter produces eerie, yet spectacular images.”

October to February is high water season, known by Venetians as ‘acqua alta’, even though flooding can occur at any time of year. But the locals are used to it, and so are the authorities, quickly adding board ‘bridges’ in the streets when the waters rise. In November 2012, some tourists made a virtue out of necessity and took a dip in St Mark’s Square – it made for quite a sight.

What to take

Wellies, warm clothes, money and a map…

  • Wellies or strong waterproof boots because of the acqua alta.
  • Warm clothes to protect you from the icy winds that rise from the Adriatic and whip through the alleys.
  • Italyheaven advises: “Although there may be sunny days, the weather is likely to be grey and can be freezing. Venice gets very cold in winter, with a bitter edge to the damp air. You’ll need lots of layers of clothing and a hat.”
  • Money and plastic, because even with my tips, you will be spending it. Will Thomas from Tuxedo Money Solutions says that its currency cards are gaining popularity with holiday-makers as well as business travellers. “Carry one of our pre-loaded cash cards on your trip,” he said. “They are simple to set up and load with the amount you want.”
  • A map. You can pick up free basic maps from many hotels, tourist attractions and travel terminals but it’s worth investing a few euros in a proper street-by-street map. Getting lost is part of the charm of a visit to Venice, but eventually you’ll want to find your hotel and a warming hot chocolate.

What to do

Walk, walk, walk. Venice itself is a work of art, almost every corner, doorway or rooftop offers a faded frieze, religious symbol or quirky window.

Enjoy the churches. Many charge a small entrance fee but it’s a small price to pay to see works of art by Titian and other Venetian artists in situ. A group of churches has a joint entry scheme www.chorus.org and you can buy a year-long pass for €9, allowing one visit to each of the sixteen participating.

For the Vaporetto, museums, churches, anything except your coffee, buying a multipass can really save you cash. Venice’s civic museums’ museum pass costs €18 and includes entry into the best attractions including the Doge’s Palace. This is a must in the eternal city. As Lonely Planet writes: “Don’t be fooled by its genteel Gothic elegance: underneath all that lacy pink cladding, the palace flexes serious muscle. The seat of Venice’s government for nearly seven centuries, this powerhouse survived wars, conspiracies and economic crashes, and was cleverly restored by Antonio da Ponte, who also designed Ponte di Rialto [the Rialto Bridge}, after a 1577 fire.”

St Mark’s Square must be seen to be believed. Napoleon called it the ‘finest drawing room in Europe’. Its cafes are notoriously expensive but it costs nothing to wander the vast space, admire the architecture and listen to the cafe orchestras and hum of languages being spoken.

Top tip: If you have a coffee and snack at a cafe bar counter, it’s cheaper than if you sit at a table. And you feel more like an Italian. Maybe time it just before you take your water bus or taxi to another part of the city and give your legs a rest while you’re afloat.

The famous La Fenice is well worth a visit, though ironically (or is it just unfortunately) for a place named after the phoenix, it burnt down in 1836 and again in 1996. Veniceonline.it tells of how much Venetians felt the loss of their theatre: “For months a lot of people did a pilgrimage to the theatre, put the flowers, crying, put messages, it looked like if a real person was died …. very, very strange …” Now though, La Fenice has been lovingly restored and is a lovely destination to while away a winter afternoon. You may even catch a member of the orchestra rehearsing in the pit.

When you’ve had enough of ancient beauties, check out some modern wonders at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in a stunning white palace at the end of the Grand Canal, it houses works by modern artists on the Grand Canal. View works by Henry Moore, Jackson Pollock, Max Ernst and Anish Kapoor.

Where to stay

The Telegraph recommends Residenza de l’Osmarin – a cheap b&b in a great location, featuring an elegant décor and a private roof terrace with wonderful views of the city. East of St Mark’s square, L’Osmarin is close to Venice’s main thoroughfares but set just far enough off them to feel secluded and quiet.

I love the four-star Hotel Giorgione in the Cannaregio district, which is a historical house in Venice. The staff are delightful and there is free tea, coffee and biscuits provided in the lobby all afternoon. Ideal for UK visitors needing a cup that cheers after a day pounding the streets. It’s less than five minutes to the Rialto Bridge and less than fifteen to St Mark’s Square.

BA offers good deals on flights and hotel deals to the city at certain times throughout the winter, though you’ll have to make your own way from the airport to the city. Treat yourself to a water taxi and pull up to your hotel landing platform -if it has one – in style.

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://photodune.net

London-based lifestyle journalist and travel writer Sarah Thompson loves to explore European cities by foot. An intrepid traveller, Sarah is keen to share her tips on making travel safer, easier and less stressful, though she has to admit to getting lost in Venice frequently and happily. Aside from a love of pounding the pavements of the world’s greatest cities, Sarah also loves to settle down in her favourite armchair with a book. Read more of Sarah’s articles in publications that appear online and in print.

Visiting Soave for wineries

The next time you visit Italy take the time to visit the charming and ancient town of Soave, just 23 km east of Verona in north-eastern Italy. If you thought you had to travel to Tuscany to see a walled hilltop village you are mistaken – Soave has all the necessary attributes and more!

Soave

Soave in Italy is well worth a visit – source

 

Soave Wine

Most people will be familiar with the name Soave – the wine of the same name, produced all around the town, is world famous and probably the best known Italian wine after Chianti.

Soave is a white wine produced from predominantly Garganega grapes grown on the many hillside vineyards all around the town of Soave, and has been awarded DOC status.

Soave is produced in large quantities and in the past few decades the quality has been a little inconsistent. The introduction of stricter requirements for a Soave Superiore (minimum of 70% Garganega grapes, minimum alcohol content of 11.5% and at least 8 months maturation) has resulted in the production of some very fine Soave wines with much more character and flavour than was the case in the past. Some of the very best wines from the region are produced on family-owned and operated wineries and some of them are open to the public for cellar tours and tastings.

What to see and do in Soave

At the very top of your to-do list should be a cellar tour and tasting! Three of the foremost Soave wineries that you can visit and tour are:

Rocca Sveva: A visit to this winery is an experience you should not miss even if you are not a wine lover. You will be amazed at the sight of hundreds of meters of tunnels that have been excavated into the hills of the countryside – these tunnels are filled with thousands of oak barrels lined up along cool underground walkways. At the end of your cellar tour you will be treated to a tasting and both lovely Soave and other local products such as Olive Oil and honey are on sale in the winery shop

I Stefanini: A completely different experience awaits you at Il Stefanini where the last generation of the Tessari family, who have farmed the land since the 1800’s, have decided to combine elements of the old traditions and modern technologies. No Oak barrels here…(traditional Soave was never matured in oak)

Instead expect massive stainless steel tanks; not as romantic perhaps, but their wine is gaining acclaim in all the major guides and reviews.

Coffele Winery: This is one of the oldest wineries in the area and is situated right in the heart of the town. Their Soave Classico is a very well-balanced wine with an exceptionally mild acidity making it a perfect accompaniment to fish and risotto dishes. They also make two other complex Classicos and are well worth a visit.

After you have toured a couple of wineries, it is time to explore the town of Soave. The Castle and Medieval Walls are superbly intact and are the main attraction in the town. The castle is a traditional elevated defensive structure and dates from around 934. The medieval walls were a much later addition; they surround the town and lead up to the castle. On your visit to the castle you can see the remains of a 10th century church, visit the various castle rooms and the museum.

Also worth a visit are the Palace of Justice in the centre of town and the Palazzo Cavallli and the Scaliger Palace. There are also a few churches where you can see examples of 16th and 14th century art.

When it comes to food, you will not be disappointed. There are several good restaurants serving regional cuisine with plenty of emphasis on Risotto (Italy’s best Risotto rice is produced in the area) and Polenta, rather than Pasta, the more well-known Italian basic.

Make sure to accompany your meal with a glass of Soave made just around the corner!

Soave Classico Doc, Monte de Toni 2008

Soave is one of the most recognised wined around the world – source

Monte Veronese Cheese, a delight of the Veneto Region

The intense flavour of Monte Veronese DOP

This fabulous cheese is produced in the northernmost part of the Verona province since medieval times, when the Lessinia valley was occupied by the Germanic tribe of Cimbrians. Other say that its production was introduced in this area by immigrants from Lombardy.

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The hilly region of Lessinia is part of the Prealps chain and is a tourist destination all year round for its great natural places – in particular the Regional Park of Lessinia – where visitors can do excursions, birdwatching and have fun at the Malga San Giorgio ski resort.

A gastronomic tour is recommended to gourmet travellers to find out the typical product which gained the DOP recognition in 1996: the Monte Veronese cheese. Furthermore, the Consorzio di Tutela del Monte Veronese was founded to preserve its territory of origin, its method of production and, indeed, its authentic flavour.

A great way to taste it is to visit the town of Zeno di Montagna – province of Verona – during the food festival dedicated to San Zeno chestnuts, Bardolino wine and Monte Veronese cheese. You may also enjoy tours in the dairy factories of Peschiera del Garda, Lazise, Bardolino – all close to the marvellous Lake Garda – Bussolengo and San Pietro in Cariano, to name a few.

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How Monte Veronese is produced

Monte Veronese DOP (or POD) is made only from cow’s milk. But the factor that makes this cheese so unique is that the milk is exclusively taken from cows bred in the Lessinia valleys. This element, together with the period of ageing – safeguards its organoleptic properties and original aroma of grass. You can recognize Monte Veronese varieties by the label colour and by the denomination clearly marked on them.

Monte Veronese Aging period and varieties

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Monte Veronese made from whole milk needs an aging time of 25-40 days and can be recognized by the light green label. Your palate won’t forget its sweet long lasting flavour. Try it with marmalade to enjoy the contrast between bitter and sweet.

Monte Veronese d’allevo – made from skimmed milk – is called “mezzano” if aged for more than 90 days. Its savour slightly spicy makes it perfect to serve grated on many gourmet first courses such as risotto all’Amarone or as filling in ravioli. It’s great also with the radicchio rosso di Verona IGP (PGI). Check the light blue label when you buy it.

If you’re looking for strong flavours, then the Monte Veronese d’allevo vecchio – which period of aging goes between 6 months and 2 years – is the one for you. Labelled with a black tag, you will soon recognize it also by its pleasant flavour of almond. You’d rather enjoy it at the end of the meal matched with great Italian red wines such as Bardolino or Valpolicella.

There is another variety, called Monte Veronese di Malga, that can be served with other food (eggs, pears, walnuts) to emphasize its flavour or with other kind of cheeses. It is the ideal ingredient of recipes based on polenta or salty pies since it gives an intense taste to the dish. It is superb if matched with the strong flavour of truffles.

Emilia Delizia Monte Veronese cheese tour from Verona.

Are you ready for a gourmet travel in the Verona province? Our company organises cheese tours from Verona, Bardolino and the Valpolicella area. With our food experiences you can discover this magnificent products during your holidays in Italy.

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Venice: a gourmet guide to its culinary traditions

Everybody knows that Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But the local gastronomy is not so renowned as tourists usually concentrate on succulent dishes based on pasta and pizza. Nevertheless it is worth knowing more on culinary traditions such as fegato ala venesiana, sarde in saor and bigoli in salsa. If you are in Venice for your holidays you might consider taken some cooking classes or simply a food crawl in the city. Below we have listed some of the dishes that you might want to try

Fegato ala venesiana, an old recipe

The local Venetian dialect is widely spoken in the area and “Fegato ala venesiana” is the name of the typical recipe. The translation means liver in the Venetian way. It dates back to the Roman times when liver used to be cooked with figs in order to hide the strong smell it usually has. Over time the fruit was replaced by onions and it has become one of the most popular in Veneto. If you dare to prepare it, you must cut the onions into very thin slices and cook them in a pan with some olive oil and butter. After ten minutes, add up some vinegar and the liver cut into thin pieces. It will be prepared in five more minutes. Then you can add some salt and pepper and serve it with lemon slices. It must be eaten warm and never re-heat it to avoid the liver becoming too hard.

Sarde in saor, the taste of the sea

Sarde is the local word for sardines, the main ingredient of the recipe. While the fish is being fried, the other ingredients are prepared. Raisins are soaked for thirty minutes and onions are cut into thin slices and cooked in a pan with olive oil for ten minutes. Then some vinegar is added and cooking goes ahead until the onions are soft. Then the fried sardines are seasoned with plenty of vinegar in container and covered with the onions, sprinkled with pine nuts and raisins. Several layers of fish and seasoning are prepared and then marinated in a cool place for at least one day.

The result is a sweet and sour dish usually served as an appetizer. Back in the days of sea travel, sarde in saor was a way to preserve food for the seamen spending long time out on boats.

sarde in saor (con cipolle rosse)

sarde in saor – source

 

Bigoli in salsa, pasta in an original recipe

This recipe used to be prepared during days such as Christmas Eve or Good Friday. It is a very simple pasta dish to prepare but it is also really tasty and delicious. The main ingredients for the seasoning are onions again but this time accompanied by anchovies. And even if the pasta looks to you as spaghetti, it is not so. They are thicker and they have a rougher surface. That causes a difference in the taste and the sensation. And do not forget that the quality of the olive oil is important to obtain an exquisite dish.

If you enjoy Venetian gastronomy, you might be interested on other recipes such as risi e bisi (rice with peas), polenta, gnocchi or baccalà (codfish). And as dessert you can always try the sweet tiramisu or the typical pandoro.
Emilia Delizia oganises food activities in Venice that includes the typical cicchetti tour, cooking classes, and food and wine tours. If want to try the specialities listed above you can contact us and we will provide the best culinary experience in Italy.

 

Venice food crawl – the culture of cicchetti

A Cicchetti Tour of Venice

Emilia Delizia Venice food tour. Our company would be delighted to organise a Venice food tour for your group, family, friends or company incentive travel. Our culinary activities are great for those wanting to explore the best Italian food traditions.

Cichetti, Venice's version of tapas. Salt cod & arancini :) #italy

Cichetti, Venice’s version of tapas. Salt cod & arancini – Image source

Venice food tour highlights.

Imagine that you are exploring the sights of Venice, that magical place that has welcomed travellers and explorers since the Middle Ages. In this city without cars, you can walk for hours, enjoying both the well-known sights such as St. Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge and  the Piazza San Marco. Naturally, this is bound to leave you hungry and thirsty. What better way to combine exploration with refreshment than participating in the tradition known as the cicchetti crawl? Cicchetti are snacks, rather like Spanish tapas, served in wine bars and taverns. You can easily sample a world of traditional, delicious Venetian cuisine and atmospheric tavernas, for a modest expenditure, over the course of an afternoon or evening.

The delicious food of Venice.

Since Venice is a city dominated by the sea it is no surprise that its food culture is dominated by the sea also: by deliciously fresh and abundant seafood, including cuttlefish, octopus, cod, sardines and shrimp. Meats, both fresh and cured, are also widely used in Venetian dishes, as is pasta and risotto rice. Fresh local vegetables such as artichokes from Sant-Erasmo and, in the spring, white asparagus, when fried or grilled, also become delicious cicchetti.

A culinary tour of Venice’s cicchetti bars will reward you with a world of tastes. To begin your cicchetti adventure, look for places called bacari (wine bars) or osteria, both of which serve these traditional snack foods. Traditional cicchetti are simple: chunks of salami, pieces of cheese, fried olives and fried seafoods. Modern cicchetti include these dishes, but they also can be much more elaborate – dinners in miniature.

Cicchetti are accompanied by small glasses of wine (about the size of a double shot) known as ombra, or shade. These mini glasses of wine were long ago nicknamed ombra, after the wine sellers in the Piazza San Marco, who kept in the shade to keep the wine cool and fresh. Or perhaps you would like to drink an aperitivo – a pre-dinner drink designed to whet your appetite. In Venice, the traditional Spritz is often based on sparkling wine such as Prosecco (a dry white sparkling wine), mixed with sparkling water and flavored with bitters.These amari (bitters) include the ruby red bitters Campari or Select (made of herbs and fruits), bright orange Aperol (with bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona), and Cynar (containing artichokes and several herbs). These aperitivo are fairly low in alcohol content, so are the perfect drink to choose while roaming between bacari.

Bacari and osterias in Venice.

Some of the best seafood-based cicchetti can be found in San Polo. Many osteria are near the Rialto Fish Market. At Cantina Mori (San Polo 429), which has been in business since the 15th century, you can try octopus and baccala’ (salt cod). Sarde in saor, or sardines fried in olive oil with onions, pine nuts and raisins, is found there also. Baccala’ is one of the most popular cicchetti; a creamy salt cod, it is served either on its own or on toast. At Pronto Pesce (319 San Polo), also near the Rialto Fish Market, you can savour swordfish croissant and scallops served in the shell – all served in a buffet style. If you prefer meat, try a hearty plate of polpette (meatballs), often served with an aioli sauce. Polpette, as well as prosciutto, pate and bread rounds topped with truffles, cheese and mushrooms await you at All’Arco (San Polo 436), near the Rialto Bridge.

Tidbits served on toast (crostini) or on squares of savory grilled polenta are also popular cicchetti. Try squid ink toast with or without curried shrimp at Osteria Bancogiro (Campo San Giacometto, San Polo). Risotto and pasta dishes are also delicious  – try the risotto Parmigiana or the ravioli at Osteria Vivaldi (calle della Maddonetta, San Polo). Tramezzini (little triangular sandwiches) may also accompany drinks in traditional bacari. Made from special, soft white bread, they are stuffed with a delectable variety of fillings including ham, olives, cheese or tuna.

Refreshed by cicchetti and an aperitivo or an ombra, you may now continue your explorations. This food tour is a delicious way to relax, recharge, and sample the best of Venice’s cuisine – and in doing so, getting to know Venice and her people, too.