For those who travel

The Venetian bacari: a journey into the food and wine culture of the city

Venice is famous all around the world for its beauty, its romantic streets (“calli”), historical bridges and its millennial history. But the lagoon city is also the perfect place where you can taste delicious food and wine. If you want to discover the most authentic side of the city, the bacaro tour is the perfect experience for you.

In this article we’ll explore the tradition of the venetian bacaro, guiding you through the discovery of the perfect spots in the city.

Whether you are a tourist or a resident, you can’t lose this wonderful culinary experience!

But, first things first.

What is a bàcaro?

The bacari are small venetian taverns, typically furnished in a very simple and rustic way, where glasses of wine (or “ombre”) are served accompanied by small samples of food (“cicheti”), usually exposed on a little window under the counter. What makes a bacaro unique and different from any other bar or tavern, is the fact that is frequented by Venetians doc who have been keeping alive the use of getting together to chat, comment and laugh in front of a glass of wine, all under the direction of the innkeeper (“oste”). In short, the bacaro represents a social and cultural space for the venetian community.

The etymology of the word bacaro comes from the venetian expression “far bacara” which means to make noise, party, have fun. In the past, the people who went to these bars used to let themselves go to the pleasure of drinking, making them less careful to not raise their voices.

What are the ombre and cicchetti ?

The typical products of the bacaro are the ombra and ciccheto.

The cicheto is similar to the Spanish tapas or the Greek meze, but with a venetian touch. A little taste of food (the name comes from the latin word ciccus “small quantity”), served together with a glass of wine, the “ombra”. Some examples of classic cicheti are little meat balls, “sarde in saor” (sardines with onion), codfish cream, “folpeti” (octopsu), and also fried food and croutons.

The term “ombra” (“shadow”) refers to the glass of wine, and it comes from the custom of the street vendors of keeping the wine cold under the St Mark’s belfry’s shadow.

The Tour

A tour of the bacari of Venice during the weekend or festive days with a group of friends, is an original and fun way to enjoy the city in full Venetian style.

Generally, a tour of the bacari is more or less half day long, and will make you discover the wine and food venetian tradition…maybe even while sipping an ombra of the brand Serena Wines 1881.

Here are some of the best bacari that you can find in every district of Venice

Santa Croce: Bacareto da Lele

Let’s start from the district of Santa Croce, where you can find both the train and bus station. Once there, you cannot avoid to visit the Bacareto da Lele in Campo dei Tolentini. This bar is mostly attended by university students and venetians; it’s a meeting point for those looking for an informal and vibrant atmosphere. Regardless of the little dimensions, it is highly populated during every hour of the day. There are no seating places, but you can enjoy food and beverages leaning on the barrels or seating on the steps of St. Nicholas Church.

San Polo: Ai do mori

Of all of the available options in the district of San Polo, we highly recommend to stop by the bacaro Ai do mori.  This spot is considered the oldest bacaro of the city and the atmosphere is unique. The decor, composed of glass demijohns, brandies and brass cookware hunging from the ceiling, conveys a warm and hospitable sense that will conquer you from the beginning. One of the specialties of the bacaro is definitely the “francobollo” (“stamp”), a small tramezzino stuffed in a thousand ways.

Dorsoduro: Cantinone già Schiavi

If you’re looking for another famous venetian bacaro, you can’t miss the number 992 of Dorsoduro, where you’ll find the Enoteca Schiavi. This bar is managed by the third generation of the Schiavi family and since 1944 offers delicious cicchetti, that have become a true institution of the venetian tradition. Other than the reasonable prices, you’ll also find generous portions, making it an optimal choice for those who want to enjoy a variety of flavoured cicchetti without spending a fortune.

San Marco: Bacarando

After passing the famous Accademia bridge, you will find yourself in the heart of the famous district of Saint Mark, where we suggest you to stop by Bacarando in Calle dell’Orso. This place is mostly popular with young people, and offers both the possibility of enjoying a cicchetto on the ground floor, and to have dinner on the first floor.

If you’re lucky enough to pass by the bar on a Wednesday, you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy some live music by local musicians.

Castello: Aciugheta

If you’re looking for a multifaceted place, we suggest you to visit the Aciugheta, situated in Campo San Filippo e Giacomo. Here you’ll find a bacaro, a five-star restaurant and a pizzeria, making it the perfect place for every occasion.

The cicchetti that are served at the Aciugheta are frequently changed respecting the tradition, and making the menu more original and innovative than in other bacari. There’s also the possibility for outside seating in order to enjoy the cicchetti in one of the most suggestive spots in Venice.

Cannaregio: Enobar Al Timon

In the district of Cannareggio, it can be difficult to choose a bacaro, because there are so many to try. We suggest the bacaro Enobar al Timon, situated along the Fondamenta dei Ormesini. The owners are famous for their friendliness. Usually at “al Timon” are organised themed tastings and concerts by local artists.

A tour of the bacari is an unforgettable experience, and the best way to discover the real venetian food and get deeper into the city’s atmosphere. Choose an organised tour or create your personalised route, but don’t miss the chance to enjoy the unique food and wines offered by the bacari.

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