A Little Bit of Venice: Great Food, Wine, and Friends in Italy

Venice: Getting Lost

I was in Venice Italy, and I was running 20 minutes late when my fellow bacari climbers found me. The number of people, both Italians and “stranieri”, gathered on the square to converse, laugh, and gesticulate was impressive. The gesticulating Italians of Venice are my favorite.

They are the best hand communicators in the world. They are capable of communicating facial expressions. It is surprising that no one has ever written a book on these unique ways of communicating thoughts and emotions. Perhaps I will.

Young and old couples were holding hands, kissing, and stroking one another adoringly. Giordano Clara, Michael, and Katherine were talking to each other when I approached them.

I replied, “I can’t believe that I found you.”

Giordano replied, “I told you it was easy.”

He looked at me incredulously. He continued, “It’s difficult to get lost in Venice,” and I was astonished at his words.

Clara agreed with her boyfriend that as long as you can find Grand Canal, you will always be fine.”

I was honest and said, “It’s like an enormous maze out there, and we are all little mouses trying to find the center and some treats, in this instance little Venetian edibles.”

The Surreality of Listening to Venetian Music In Venice

Michael, Giordano, and Katherine are all architects. Clara manages the B&B’s day-to-day operations. We instantly got along and decided that we should start eating and drinking together as soon as possible. Giordano, a little bit of a Venice historian led the way.

As we walked, I heard the dulcet sounds from Vivaldi and then Albinoni. I felt immediately at home. I love Venetian music. Claudio Monteverdi from Veneto was the one who invents modern opera and orchestra. Vivaldi never fails to lift my spirits. Albinoni’s music soothes and enchants.

“I’m actually here,” I whispered to myself, not knowing that I had finally realized my dream of visiting Venice. I tried to be naive, but I resisted. I had heard the same music back at home, but to now be in the birthplace of the composers to hear their music, which was made during the Baroque, was beyond my wildest dreams.

The Venetians are proud of their musical heritage. Despite the fact that Viennese waltzes can be heard in Piazza San Marco. This is Venice’s way of pandering to tourists. She excels at it.

We walked to a place that was only known to Giordano & Clara. As we walked through Venice’s narrow back streets, we passed many trattorie, osteries, stories , etc. It was hard to imagine what life must have been like before electricity. It must have been difficult to navigate since there was not much visibility.

The crowds still came out to enjoy the passeggiata, the Italian walk that is taken before or after dinner. I didn’t let it stop me either. I was determined to achieve my goal and create something delicious to write about.

Bacari Tour, an Italian Pub-Crawl

Finally, we were able to stand at the counter of Antico Dolo’s cozy, pub-like bacaro.

Giordano told us that this is the first stop. This is a very well-known bacaro. “I come here all the time.”

We approached the counter. We approached the counter. I was enthralled by the large array of Cicchetti displayed on the counter. Some were easily recognized, and some were completely foreign to me. It was hard to stop salivating.

Giordano declared, “This is one of my favorite,” as he scanned the small plates of bites that were laid before him. He exclaimed, “You must have the baccala Mantecato.” It is amazing.

This dish is salt cod whipped with olive oil, milk, and a hint of garlic.

He said, “Here they spread that on little polenta pieces.” He then ordered for us.

My stomach continued to growl in anticipation of what was coming and protesting that it had been ignored for so long. Katherine and Michael didn’t know what bacari was, so I explained it.

This little ritual has been practiced by the Venetians for many years. They’ll stop at different bars and wine bars to have a snack and a drink.

Prosecco Wine and Delicious Cicchetto in Venice

They do it both at night and during the day.

They were very interested so I continued. It is not known when it started. However, legend has it that wine sellers in Piazza San Mark used to move their wine carts into shade when the sun rose. “ombra” is the Venetian term for shade. This word eventually came to refer to a wine drinker, especially Prosecco, which can only be found in the Veneto.

Katherine interjected, “Oh, we tried Prosecco back home in Australia,” and “and we really love it.”

I nodded in agreement. “That’s what they drink here,” I replied. It’s something I used to drink all the time in America.

It was filling up quickly and we decided to move it outside, as it was getting too stuffy inside. Giordano quickly emerged with a plateful of the first cicchetto of the evening.

He gave each one a plate. He said, “Now the Prosecco,” and Michael and he entered the bacaro to retrieve the sparkling wine. I had grown to love it back home long before my departure from Venezia.

I tried a bite of my baccala cicchetto and was pleasantly surprised by how mild and balanced the flavors were. They spread it on crostini or other edible plates, instead of spreading it on a bagel, bialy, or on another surface.

It was now time to go for the wine-tasting in Italy.

Prosecco was soft and bubbly and not as assertive as Champagne, but it was still a great choice over anything I’ve tried in America. It was reminiscent of New Year’s Eve celebrations: laughter, foreign babble, popping corks, and Bangladeshi men selling roses. I felt more content than ever.

My fellow merrymakers were warm, friendly, and generous with their smiles. We quickly bonded, raised our glasses, and said “Cin, Cin” every time we spoke, hoping that the evening would last a blissful eternity.

Before you travel to Venice, stock up on your favorite Italian wines. Talk to wine experts about your tastes and preferences from all over the globe and they will help you choose the right wines for you. Get the Italian selection delivered right to your doorstep!

Next Bacaro in Venice: Cantina Do Mori

All agreed that the baccala Mantecato was delicious. We should all move quickly to the next bacaro so we can enjoy more Venetian delights.

We continued walking, passing through some of the most narrow streets I have ever seen. We reached Cantina do Mori, where we had sarde en saor, an authentic Venetian delight: fried sardines marinated in olive oil, vinegar, and onions.

Giordano assured me that I was absolutely authentic. As we followed him into the bacaro, he said “And molto Buonissimo!” This combination of sweet, salty, and savory flavors was something I knew I would find unpalatable.

I was so wrong. It was a strange combination of ingredients that worked extremely well together. The fish was tender, flaky, mildly sweet, and not overpowered by any one ingredient. This fish was delicate, subtle and delicious. Giordano looked at my plate and asked me, “Do you like it ?”–probably” because unlike him, I had left a few pieces of fish unattended.

I said, “Yes, it’s very good,” and then I quickly and dutifully ate the remaining bits.

He praised him, “Bravo!” He smiled widely and asked, “Do you want more?”

I was tempted, but decided to give it a try. The selection of options was amazing! We were rewarded with more cicchetti: succulent, delicious meatballs made of mortadella and ham, eggs, cheese, rolled into breadcrumbs, deep-fried, and tramezzini (sandwiches), stuffed with a wide variety of savory ingredients, including prosciutto, salami, and other exotic combinations.

We topped it off with my favorite Prosecco. “Cin, Cin!” Prosecco is light, subtle, and delicious. It doesn’t distract from the food being drank. It is refreshing, enhancing and well-behaved. It will only take a few more years before it becomes a global phenomenon.

Bacari Tour Costs

Despite all the delicious little bites, great wine, high spirits, and mutual fondness among the partygoers that night, I have to admit that this feast was not cheap. The Euro is much more expensive than the Dollar.

While the wines were more expensive than the comestibles, the wine was very affordable at $1.50 per bottle. It was worth it for the pure satisfaction they brought to my stomach.

The streets got more and more difficult to navigate as time went by. It was as if I was walking down the most crowded street in Tokyo. It was thrilling. It was a big Venetian party, with new friends and strangers, good food and drink.

Standing Room Only at Vivaldi Bacaro, Italy

We kept pushing on, and we arrived at a very popular bacaro called “Vivaldi.” I was not able to hear the Four Seasons nor the Mandolin Concerto. Instead, there was incessant laughter, toasts to friends, good food, and Venice.

We couldn’t sit down or stand so we ordered our Cicchetti and wine and entered the night. We sat outside the bacaro, ate and laughed, and watched the constant stream of people rushing by.

It was Romantic Italy after all. Love, affection, and adoration were flooding the already warm night. Bella, romantica Italia! I exclaimed inwardly, contented, enjoying every moment, all my senses satisfied.

Vivaldi is most well-known for its fish, especially the deep-fried variety. I loved shrimp, scallops, and whitebait, all of which were piping hot and crisp, as well as perfectly cooked. The seafood was cooked to the perfect degree of doneness. There was no rubbery calamari or inedible shrimp; there was just an amazing array of fruits from the Venetian lagoon, Adriatic, or “frutti di Mare,” as Italians prefer to call it a variety of seafood.

My memory was quickly transported back to Japan and the abundance of seafood available there. It is rare that you can find Prosecco in Japan to complement the food.

Regardless, I was in Venice and that is exactly where I wanted it to be for the next six months. I couldn’t be happier.

Venetian Pride

As I ate baby calamari, I thought “This is amazing!” “How can they make it so delicious?” I asked.

Giordano smiled at me and looked up at me. “We are Venetians, and we all love the sea. Since the founding of Venice, we have been there. We are experts in the preparation of seafood.

We all laughed. “You Venetians love your history and culture, aren’t you?” I asked. Everyone laughed a slightly alcoholized chuckle and looked at Giordano. He reminded me of a college professor, with his intelligent eyes and glasses.

He replied, “Why should we not be?” “We have a rich, long history. For centuries, we were Europe’s most powerful, enterprising, and wealthy republic. This is something that people who have never been here realize.”

I agreed.

He said, “They come here to see San Marco and Palazzo Ducale, and sometimes that is all,” with a little sadness in his voice. He said that there was much to see, including the art, churches, and the Jewish ghetto. Is there any other city that rises out of the water like Venice? Venice is a feast for the eyes.

I raised my glass and said, “Cin, Cin,” It was a thought that I had for a while. Even though it was my first visit to the city, I felt his sentiment and agreed with him. This city is unique in its history, which most tourists don’t know much about.

It’s not just a Disneyland. There is so much more than what you might expect. Tourists rarely venture beyond Piazza San Marco. This is a huge shame, as they might be surprised at the variety of sights and spectacles.

It was time for us to move on to the next destination, and more–thank you, Cichetti and Prosecco.

Do Spade Baraco in Venice

Do Spade is a specialist in triangular sandwiches called tramezzini. I have already mentioned that they are stuffed with a variety of fillings, including culatello (similarly to salami, but fattier, and far more delicious), prosciutto, and mortadella, as well as ham and olive tapenade. We feasted with gusto.

Prosecco was like a glass of juice. It is not a secret that we were all happy at this point, thanks to the many glasses of wine we each had. However, I still felt hungry despite all the food. It’s important to remember that we did a lot of walking during our bacari walk and burned a lot of calories at each bacaro.

The tramezzini were outlandish. Nothing could even come close to the sandwiches I grew up eating in Chicago. Like the French, the Italians have the uncanny ability of turning the most basic ingredients into culinary art that delights the stomach and leaves you craving more.

Despite the fact that the prosciutto is from Parma and the crostini merely consist of toasted bread rounds, I enjoyed the prosciutto Crostini.

Italian Food Tastes Better in Italy

Maybe it was the magic atmosphere, the alcohol, or my great company. I can only say that Italian food is better in Italy. Italy elevates spaghetti with tomato basil, the simplest of sauces to enjoy, to new heights. It is amazing. The coffee drinks are simply divine. Each meal is a feast.

My feet were starting to complain and I was feeling tired. It was only a matter of time before they stopped being able to walk. As the minutes passed, I could feel the crowd growing and sensed the approaching crescendo.

We enjoyed walking through the streets and rubbing elbows with other merrymakers. We tried our best to communicate with foreigners and Italians.

We communicated with the Italians who did not speak English well by using simple verbs and failing to conjugate because we didn’t know-how. It worked, however. Mangiare (to have), and bere (to drink), were the most important verbs that you needed to learn on this night.

We continued our culinary adventure by stopping at other bacari where we tried more of the delicious delicacies La Serenissima has to offer her residents and long-term tourists. They aren’t afraid of going beyond the expected and into the city to meet interesting and fun-loving people and make Bacchus proud.

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