If like me, you’ve only skimmed the surface of Italian cuisine, our vocabulary is then mostly limited to pizza, pasta, lasagna, risotto and the like. So what can you eat in Venice that’s different and will make your trip there a memorable one?
Sitting in the back of a vaporetto (waterbus), I tilted my face up at an angle in a meek attempt to grab that little ray of sunlight that snuck through the dark clouds. It was May 2013, my first time in Venice. The cold spring day (12 degrees Celsius) was gloomy for the most part and yet, it was so magical. We were on our way to the meeting point of our Urban Adventures ‘Cicchetti and Wine Tour’ and the boat ride down the Grand Canal couldn’t have been more picturesque. Breathtaking architecture on either side with awe-inspiring facades, iconic bridges and a hundred boats going in every possible direction. While it might have been a chaotic, to me, it was like a beautifully syncronised dance.
I came across Urban Adventures on the net when researching food tours for my trip. I like to do one on the first day I’m in a new city as it gives me ideas for what to eat for the remainder of my stay. Cicchetti is the Venetian version of tapas but it never quite became as well known as its Spanish counterpart. It’s a shame though and something I’d like to address in my own little way via this post!
In true Dubai fashion, we were running late for our tour. We ran off the waterbus, map in hand, dodging puddles and armies of tourists. Finally made it to the footsteps of La Maddalena, a church in Cannaregio and there she was patiently waiting for us – the lovely and witty Cecilia, the Manager for Venice Urban Adventures and our tour guide for the day.
A group of 10 or 12 from all over the world, Cecilia taught us some very important phrases we should know (Allora! Preggo), explained the breakdown of the districts in Venice, threw in properly-timed anecdotes, took us to bars we’d never have known about, and fed us some very good food! This tour was the highlight of my trip and one of the best food tours I’ve ever done; I’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting Venice, especially to do on the first day of your holiday.
Here are some highlights. Just know that I took these pictures before I knew this blog would exist and so, they’re not the best. Should be enough to pique your interest though!
Allora! Che cosa state aspettando, ragazzi? What are you waiting for guys?
Cicchetti are small bites which people usually eat at baccaris (local wine bars) after work, on their way home. They include anything from mini sandwiches, pieces of crusty bread with toppings, stuffed peppers, meat on a stick, prawns – anything really, hot or cold.
It was the first time I tried baccalà mantecato which is creamed dried cod served on crusty bread. Really nice!
During the tour, you’ll go to five baccaris and get to meet the owners who are also sometimes the chefs.
You’ll also get to see the fish market and the fruit and vegetable market.
I know a gondola ride is on top of many peoples lists as one of the things to do in Venice. I think its way too overpriced. The tour gives you a similar experience on a traghetto. These are basically gondolas that have seen better days, they are now used as public transport for short crossings.
TIP – The cocktail Bellini was invented by Harry’s Bar in Venice. I’d give it a miss if I were you. Underwhelming and overpriced. Instead drink endless glasses of Spritz. This tip isn’t from Urban Adventures, just a general tip for all of Italy. Spritz is 1 part Aperol, 2 parts prosecco, a splash of soda, slice of orange, and ice! It should be your standard drink before you move onto anything else (orange drink below).
The price for the tour is 77€ per person and are run in English & German. If you’ve read this far, we’ve some news! You can get a 10% discount if you book on the Urban Adventures website! Not just for Venice but anywhere in the world. Just use the code UAVEN. Bookmark this and make sure to look them up!
NOTE: This is not a sponsored post and opinions are my own.