Bacaro Tour in Venice
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We have all heard the adage, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." But what if you are in Venice? What do the Venetians do? So my husband and I decided to find out.
We quickly discovered that one of their favorite activities involves visiting a few bacari after work. A bacaro is a small bar or tavern usually tucked in the back streets away from all the major tourist areas. They are generally rustic and offer few places to sit—patrons mainly stand at the bar or join others out in the streets. Here in the United States, we might refer to this activity as bar hopping, happy hour, or even a pub crawl. But to the Venetians, it offers a way to wind down from work, chat with friends, and have a bite while waiting for the dinner hour—which is usually 8:00 or 9:00. So, in addition to partaking in a small glass of local wine ("ombra"), a selection of small snacks ("cicchetti") are chosen which provides sustenance until then.
Since the bacari are known by locals but not often found easily by tourists, we arranged a private guide. We desired an authentic experience and knew that a guide would best be able to take us to genuinely local hangouts. We were not disappointed with our guide, Lara.
Our first stop was the Enoteca al Volto. This cozy place was close to the Rialto Bridge in Venice, yet I can honestly report I would never have been able to find it without our guide. The open window and front door offered a glimpse into our first bacaro. Inside, the bar took up most of the small room. The display case with shelves behind the glass showcased the cicchetti offerings for the day. As in most bacari, there are various selections of salmon and other fish, small paninis, fried balls of meat, cheese, or potato, and crostini toast with creamed cod or tuna. These are just a few, as the choices vary depending on what is fresh that day and, more importantly, what the chef desires to prepare. I ordered a glass of the local wine while my husband ordered an Aperol Spritz (a favorite drink of the Italians). We chose the salmon, creamed tuna, and a few of the fried selections. As there were only a few tables inside, we enjoyed our first bacaro experience outside while watching the locals begin to walk by.
Next, our guide led us to Gastronomia Venice Cikketti & Co. It was also nestled into the back streets with no sign announcing its presence. Maybe a bit larger than the last, the bar area was brighter, and the cicchetti, with fewer choices, were more clearly displayed. Again, we ordered our ombra of choice and a few cicchetti. Our guide had started us out earlier than most locals would go, so this bacaro had space available for us to sit inside. This allowed us an opportunity to get to know our guide more. After having downed our glass of wine and finished our food, it was on to our final destination.
This Osteria on Calle Valvasia in the Castello district was another very casual bar. Now we were approaching the end of the workday for the locals. This bar was quickly becoming crowded, with standing room only inside. Many patrons had moved outside with their drinks and cicchetti. This was definitely an authentic experience. The bar area was busy and loud. Our guide helped us navigate the crowd to order our food and drink. Then we joined the happy patrons outside. Listening to the locals laugh and converse, watching them greet each other warmly, and partaking in the cicchetti was a delightful way to immerse ourselves in their customs.
Our bacaro tour in Venice proved to be the most enjoyable experience. We wanted to escape for a time the crowds of tourists in all the well-known parts of Venice. This tour gave us that. The food was fresh and delicious, and the ambience of each bacaro was warm and inviting. If this more authentic experience appeals to you, I highly recommend it. I also suggest getting a private guide to go to the hidden favorites of the locals.
79957 - 2023-06-11 05:24:32