While you could start your day like I do on weekends, with a cup of bergamot and calendula tea at Serra dei Giardini, there are many specialties you shouldn’t miss in the pastry stores! This is how Venice really TASTES. So let’s take a look where you could go and enjoy seasonal breakfast treats!Continue reading “Four Beautiful Cafes in Venice”
Welcome to my neighborhood in Venice, where I grew up! This is the first of four blog posts, in which I introduce you to the part of Venice I know best. I’ll take you for a walk around Castello, east of Piazza San Marco, and will share my favorite restaurants for lunch and dinner. You will also receive tips where to stop for coffee and pastina (cake), a tramezzino, and breakfast.
Do you know the area east of San Marco? It’s beyond this bridge you can see above, a “very beaten path” in summer. Even at 6:00 am in the morning, people stop on top of Ponte de la Canonica (the oldest stone bridge in town), taking pictures of the Bridge of Sighs ahead. In the distance, you can hear the faint noise of the vaporetti, arriving at and leaving Riva degli Schiavoni. For now, all is quiet, and after a short while, people turn their head left, and hesitatingly look at the narrow calle, which like a bottleneck leads down the bridge towards a campo in the distance.
In a way, those people are right as a change takes place, and they will step onto those islands first settled in the 4th century AD. Outwardly, this area looks like in the images below. The true story of Venice, though, is inside: In courtyards, secret gardens, and semi-private campielli and corti, opening up amidst a maze of streets.
Let’s walk down the calle with a beautiful name, calle de la malvasia vecia (malvasia vecia means old wine bar): It looks very touristy at first. The cosmetics store closed in December 1992 (! we still miss it …), and a fast food restaurant is now in its place. There are several shops, selling handbags, glass, marbled papers. So yes, a few things changed here as well, and to see the authentic Venice, you need to take one of those secret calli taking you deeper into the oldest neighborhood of Venice.
We’re now on the island group OMBRIOLA, one of the three oldest areas in Venice (the other two are the Rialto islands, and Olivolo, as San Pietro di Castello was called 1500 years ago). Most of the buildings you can see in the images date back to the 10th – 12th century AD: Greek, Byzantine, and Dalmatian merchants were living here, selling and shipping their goods. They stopped in this area, off Riva degli Schiavoni, at the San Zaccaria guesthouse, or other “hotels” run by nearby monasteries. Farther ahead, along Rio de l’Osmarin and beyond, many of these merchants settled in Venice for good, and created marvelous gardens in Levantine style, which is our secret, forgotten Levantine heritage.
This was a very beaten path in the past, just like it is today, with one significant difference: 90 per cent of travelers in the past were merchants, “business travelers” instead of tourists. The economy and urban structure of Venice looked VERY VERY DIFFERENT, as you can read here.
So after walking down a narrow calle you arrive at the little campo, called Campo SS Filipo e Giacomo. It looks nice and quiet in the morning. Show owners wash the street and wipe their windows, the edicola just opens in the midst of the campo. A sweet smell makes you turn left, towards a bakery (Castelli). Still closed are the shoe and fashion store on the right, and the pharmacy just beyond.
This is what I see first thing in the morning when I leave the house. Here we do our shopping, even though a few stores closed doors during the last decade (the shoe store on Ponte de la Canonica is just one of them …) We do have a fine choice of restaurants, bakeries and pastry stores though, and we’ll start exploring them now.
Ristorante Conca d’Oro. My mother’s favorite restaurant in Venice. This is where we went for a special treat when I was a child. Today, it’s still an excellent restaurant, with a menu both innovative and partly historical. It’s a nice setting during any season, and cozy inside on an autumn night.
Pasticceria Castelli. Located on Campo SS Filipo e Giacomo. This is where I buy Pan del Doge, Venetian sweet bread, made from the same dough as zaeti biscuits are. This sweet bread is a nice gift which my friends abroad just love. The pastry store also offers a fine choice of liquors, which I buy to flavor our cakes. And for breakfast, my favorites are the cestoni di cocco – little cakes topped with coconut-lemon cream – you can see them above.
Pasticceria Bonifacio: Located in Calle degli Albanesi. The Albanian merchant community used to live here, centuries ago. Whenever we have guests coming over for coffee or tea, I buy a plate of pastine (pastries) at this pastry store. Usually, it’s also my last stop for coffee (un caffé, or cappuccino in the morning) before I “go on a photo expedition” to take images for the blog 🙂
Bar Verde: I practically spent my childhood in this place located on the corner between Calle delle Rasse and Campo San Filipo e Giacomo. Its walls were painted grass-green in the 1990s. If you are searching for the best cioccolata densa in Venice, look no further, you’ve come to the right place.
Their tramezzini are my favorites as well. I love the tacchino e rucola variant (turkey and rucola) which come with a home-made mustard filling. My perfect lunch in autumn, and I always have a tè al limone and pastina al pistacchio (soft almond cakelet, filled with pistachio cream).
Trattoria Rivetta. Riva ~ rivetta means bank: this trattoria is located on Rio di San Provolo, next to the bridge, Ponte di San Provolo. Family friends, this was grandfather’s favorite place to spend an afternoon. Their restaurant is often booked out because it is very small. Yet, after 1:30 pm, you might find a table after a short wait at the bar, and there might just be an apéritif on the house as well 🙂 This is the place I ‘d send you to if you asked for a very creamy coffee after lunch or dinner.
Aciugheta. In the 1990s, the owners taught me how to make pizza. If you’re not so much into pizza, you might still try a small version of their signature dish, una pizzetta with a sardine, as starter or on their antipasto plate (cicheti).
True, Venice is not a “pizza” expert of any sorts, but we do have a tradition of baking focaccia bread here. The “Venetian pizza” is thus a focaccia variant, and the Venetian pizza is much thinner than the one you get to eat in Naples.
Aciugheta offers one of the best desserts in town, in my opinion. Try their warm chocolate cake, or, if you love pistachio as much as I do, the warm pistachio cake with liquid pistachio filling, plus pistachio ice cream!
Il Ridotto. Aciugheta has a luxury restaurant arm, which offers set menus for lunch (under EUR 30 each). They use Lagoon ingredients to create colorful and healthy dishes. It means that you can also taste honey from the Lagoon in one of their desserts, while many main dishes and starters include herbs growing on the barene (semi-flooded Lagoon islands).
Trattoria Da Nino. Located under a sotoportego (very refreshing in summer), leading from Campiello del Vin to Campo San Provolo. In case you order pasta or fish, you can recognize Lina’s cooking in the dishes, as she shared many recipes with them … The menu is simple, and you get to know the food Venetians ate in the 1950s and 1960s.
In the next part of this blog series, we cross two bridges and explore the area around Rio de’l Osmarin, where Greek and Dalmatian merchants were living, in the midst of paradise gardens. There are also ancient monasteries, scuole, and a few secrets historians are now unearthing. Amongst them, culinary ones 🙂
It doesn’t feel like fall in Venice at first glance. Yet, if you take a closer look you can see the a few auburn leaves among the greenery, but that’s mostly due to one of the driest summers we’ve just been through. No, that’s not the season of Indian Summer in Venice yet (which would be mid-November).
Venice looks refreshed after this parching summer and in a way, the vegetable garden looks like we’re in for a “second spring”: Zucchini are in bloom, there are new lavender blossoms, and we will soon harvest new cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes. In short, it looks lush and fresh like you can see in the picture above, as the roses are also blossoming in town!
It’s been a busy summer as I’m working behind the scenes on a new project for La Venessiana, which we’ll present in next week’s post 🙂 Today, we’ll stick to a food topic. As you can see in these images in this article, Venice and her Lagoon are home to some of the most amazing herbs and vegetables in the world, as Arrigo Cipriani put it. The vegetables in the Lagoon aren’t as big as in southern Italy, but slightly tasting of salt due to the salty soil of the Lagoon. And there’s an incredible variety growing here in every season. Yes, also in winter!
That’s good news for those guests and Venetians who must choose their food carefully. We’d like to tell you more in this Guide to Gluten-Free Foods in Venice, complete with restaurant tips and our suggestion for your perfect Venetian gluten-free menu.
I’m writing this post as a number of readers and guests approached us with food related questions. Suffering from celiac disease doesn’t prevent you from visiting Venice. During the last five years or so, awareness and the need to offer gluten-free foods, has risen considerably in Italy. By now, it’s perfectly normal that most restaurants and cafes have gluten-free food available and will show you gluten-free dishes on their menus upon request. In many Venetian restaurants, you can also find the sign SENZA GLUTINE – GLUTEN-FREE on doors or windows.
Please note that a large portion of the food you eat in Venice is naturally gluten-free: Processed food and lots of sweets, and even excess portions of pasta and pizza are a no-go for most Venetians. In Venice we prefer to eat fish, rice, salad greens and vegetables, and to a lesser extent do we integrate our diet with pasta, bread and sweets. In addition, if you are sensitive to gluten, grocery stores and markets in Venice offer many gluten-free cakes, bread and cookies.
You will find plenty of naturally gluten-free food in Venice as the food pyramid is different in Italy. Here, the base of the pyramid is vegetables and fruit, followed by pasta, rice and bread, fish, eggs, milk and meat. Sweets and cakes form the tip of the pyramid. Generally speaking, this food pyramid looks different in central and northern European countries.
Associazione Italiana Celiachia (The Italian Association of Celiac Disease) is campaigning across Italy to raise awareness and educate restaurant owners on kitchen standards and the need to offer gluten-free menus. They are also present at the scuole alberghiere (schools specializing in tourism) in Venice and the Veneto. To be on the safe side, ACI created list of local food from A (always safe) to C (forbidden), which you can view here.
There is of course processed food in Venice: You do get sughi pronti – ready-made sugo for pasta at the supermarkets. Yet, local demand for processed food isn’t really overwhelming. For you this means that if you choose to stay in an apartment in Venice, most grocery stores offer gluten-free brands (breads, cakes, cookies …). Also, the Rialto Market is a haven for fresh and gluten-free food: Enjoy the wide choice of seasonal and local fruit, herbs, spices, vegetables, fish, eggs, and mushrooms.
(1) Tips for You to Eat Gluten-Free in Venice
- Eating at a restaurant / cafe: AIC – Gluten Free Food List: Do consult this list in English by AIC.
- Eating in your apartment: The best-known company in Italy, Germany, and Austria, producing gluten-free bread, flour, pasta and cookies is Schär. You can find this signature brand in almost all grocery and delicatessen stores in Venice. For example, Schär offers gluten-free pizza flour and Nutella-filled cookies, wafers or cornetti.
(2) Where to find Gluten-Free Food in Venice
Gluten-Free Choices For Breakfast / Snacks / Lunch
- Caffé Centrale Venezia (Piscina Frezzaria)
- Frary’s – Delicious Mediterranean Food
- Impronta Cafe Restaurant
- Algiubagiù (Cannaregio, on Fondamente Nove, next to the vaporetto and airport boat stops)
- Hotel Violin d’Oro
Gluten-Free Choices for Lunch / Dinner
- Al Giardinetto da Severino
- A Beccafico
- Vecia Cavana
- Ristorante Gran Canal
- La Porta d’Acqua
- Osteria ae Sconte (Castello)
- Rossopomodoro San Marco (San Marco – Great Neapolitan Food !)
- Ristorante Local (Salizzada dei Greci)
- Il Giardino Segreto (Cannaregio)
- Bistrot de Venise (San Marco)
- Poste Vecie (San Polo, at the Rialto Market)
- Ristorante ai Scalzi
Gluten-Free Ice Cream in Venice
- Gelateria Grom
- Gelateria Mela Verde
- Gelatoteca SuSo
- Pasticceria Rosa Salva (and practically most other pastry stores in Venice offer a range of gluten-free sweets and cakes).
(3) More Links for Gluten-Free Food in Venice
- Schär List of gluten-free restaurants in Venice (24)
- The Fork LIst of gluten-free restaurants in Venice
- Gluten-free restaurants in Venice by Venezia Help
- Hotel search in Venice (gluten-free dishes)
(4) A Gluten Free Menu from Venice – What Can You Expect?
I asked my friends at Ristorante Gran Canal / Hotel Monaco e Gran Canal to name a few examples of gluten-free foods from their menu. Here’s their (delicious!) answer:
- Antipasto di mare in salsa di broccoli: Sea food antipasto and broccoli sauce
- Risotto con gamberi al profumo di limone: Prawn risotto flavored with lemons
- Coda di rospo scottata in crema di carciofi e olive taggiasche: Coda di rospo fish with artichoke cream and black medium-sized olives
- Semifreddo agli amaretti e frutti di bosco: Frozen cream flavored with Amaretto liquor and berries.
Please note: Even though we have done in-depth research, we cannot exclude mistakes in this post. Please check with the restaurant and tell the waiter that you need to eat strictly gluten-free food. Before booking, please tell the hotel so they will have gluten-free bread and cookies available for breakfast.
This is a blog post we created especially for our readers and guests who were unsure on where to find gluten-free food in Venice. If you have a special question, please get in touch with us here, or in the comments!
During the weeks before Christmas, Venetians have got all the time to treat any visitor as VIP. You will certainly feel like a special guest in our city no longer besieged by tourists like it was a few weeks ago and in summer.
Join me for a dream day to fully savor Advent time in Venice !! You’ll notice that Avvento (Advent) unfolds gradually here, it doesn’t show over night. As the days are passing, the Christmas tree has suddenly arrived in Piazza San Marco. Take a look here, you can see its tip and red Christmas balls !! Even the Christmas lights will be lit one after the other and by 20 December, Venice will finally be decorated and ready for Christmas !!
#1 luxurious breakfast.
In the meantime, you have the city to yourself. There’s nothing you can’t do and visit. Even Caffé Florian is empty in the morning, and that means: Sit down on one of the low red-upholstered chairs facing the bar at the back of the cafe and taste a wonderfully frothy cup of cappucino, or perhaps a hot chocolate? You can see in this picture that I’m pretty much the only client at 10:00 am.
#2 Christmas at the market.
I suggest you take a look at the Rialto Market and its winter produce, so colorful these days! Lush and rich and green, these leafy dream vegetables promise all the vitamins other parts of Europe sorely miss by now. Venetians love their winter greens and look forward to the first days of December every year !!
This is the season of the citrus fruit, arriving at the markets from southern Italy. Bergamots are sold in December, they are my absolute favorites to make home-made Earl Grey tea and flavored almond cakes.
#3 Enjoy a Venetian ombra
No, that’s not the ombra break with wine but with tea or coffee that Venetians love around 11 am. After marveling at the fresh winter produce, just turn a corner and walk into Ruga de li Spezieri. Opposite the famous Drogheria Mascari, a real Venetian breakfast will be waiting for you. I mean the one consisting of tea and tramezzini, cappuccino and cornetto (croissant). Bar Rialto’s tramezzini are incredibly good, I think you’ll enjoy their new restaurant all decked out in beige wood.
#4 Alone in the Doge’s Palace and a special lunch
That’s actually the title of this article I published earlier this year. It can happen to you too, having the Doge’s Palace to yourselves when you visit on a late December morning. After you’ve enjoyed taking in all the particulars without the crowds and in particular, the views (!!), it’s time for lunch. And we’ll stay right here.
For there’s caffetteria – Caffè Culto on the ground floor exactly where the kitchens and pantry used to be during the times of the Republic. Just IMAGINE eating lunch in the doge’s Palace, and you do get that wonderful glimpse of Rio del Palazzo, the canal separating the sestieri (districts) San Marco and Castello.
There’s a glass door leading down to the porta d’acqua (water entrance). In former times, this was a secret back entrance used by suppliers to deliver food just as it is now. It’s a beautiful discreet place maintaining the original brickwalls and brick floor tiles, the white tables and chairs being the only modern touch.
#5 the quiet Basilica
Now that you can FINALLY enjoy Piazza San Marco, why not walk over and enter the Basilica without the crowds and take time to look at the Pala d’Oro …
#6 Merceria shopping time
Time to explore the beautifully decorated shops in the Mercerie (shopping mall) next to the Piazza. This means inspiration for gifts or just imbibing the magical atmosphere of a late December afternoon in Venice. Discover the stores selling beautiful gifts made from carta marmorizzata (marbled paper), or visit the Coin store which was restored last year for Christmas inspiration. Perhaps you would like to see the newly restored Fondaco dei Tedeschi? They’ve also got a luxurious food corner with gift baskets wrapped in rose gold.
#7 don’t forget Venetian Christmas cookies !!
The short winter day is coming to an end and you can now join Venetians taking one more coffee or spritz before dinner, or continue shopping for Christmas cookies !! Our choice is the cookies offered by Pasticceria Bonifacio in Calle degli Albanesi (next to the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop).
#8 Dinner, unusual ?
Since 2012, we’ve had a special culinary guest in Venice. Rosso Pomodoro has brought Neapolitan cuisine to Venice, so why not taste a dinner feast on a humid winter night? This restaurant is located in Calle Larga, not far from the Libreria Studium bookstore and Piazza San Marco. My mother due to her southern origins feels very much at home here 🙂
A typical winter side dish you get in Naples is friarielli, a broccoli variety tasting a bit like spinach. The leaves are braised in olive oil and seasoned with salt, lemon juice and pepper. This is the only place I know in Venice where you can taste it, with a very warming dish of Neapolitan pasta al ragù.
#9 Enjoy the Christmas lights !!
Sometimes we get mild and less humid nights in December, so inviting to discover all the lights in town. Around 8 pm the streets will be almost empty and you’ll get a chance to walk slowly and really enjoy the Christmas lights. Don’t expect them flashy and bright though – in Venice, they are mostly subdued, consisting of a myriad of flimsy light bulb chains.
Would you like to know more about Advent in Venice?
Autumn is a good time to write guides on Venetian Food ! During these cooler days and until the first frost, the offer at our markets is simply breathtaking as you can see in the cover page of this article. Le zucche – squash is omnipresent and we are fast approaching its peak time here in Venice, which is from the last days of October throughNovember.
Join me for a very personal “Guided Tour” to give you a first impression of the Rialto Market. It’s the oldest market in Europe still located where it was founded. According to legend, it was in the year 421 AD but it seems that market activities went on here for some time before. The Riatlo Market is now divided into four sections – Erbaria, Casaria, Pescaria and Beccarie. At the times of the Republic of Venice, in addition to the food stalls, the financial and commercial center was located here.
The Market is also a wonderful place for breakfast outside on balmy October mornings or else inside at Dolce Vita Caffé in Ruga degli Spezieri (the heart of spice market, and this cafe is conveniently located next to Drogheria Mascari in case you want to take a look). I usually have cappuccino and cornetto alle mandorle (croissant with an excellent, home-made soft almond filling, consisting of sweet and bitter almonds). Before I start describing all the sweet delights on their counter, just take a look. I’ll have to dedicate an entire article to their unusual croissants, some look black because farina di alghe – algae flour is included in the dough.
Until 1797 the market area consisted of six sections and also included the naranzaria (orange market) and corderia (small botteghe = craft stores where ropes for ships were made).
Coming from the direction of San Marco, step down the Rialto Bridge into a wide street called Ruga degli Oresi (where the goldsmith stores were located in the past): Palazzo dei Camerlenghi is to your right and the red-painted Palazzo dei Dieci Savi on your left. You can see the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto, the main market church, located on Campo San Giacometto where the famous Gobbo di Rialto statue is still a sight.
Across the Fabbriche Nuove buildings (still called “new” buildings after a fire had broken out in 1514) on your left, arcades lead towards the banks of the Grand Canal and to the herbs and vegetable market. You may have noticed that lately, almost all stalls sell dried herbs and spices. That’s not done because it’s more convenient but because Venetians REALLY use them. Selling dried herbs and spices perfectly fits in with the tradition of the herb market.
Venetians in former times considered dried fruit and herbs to be spices. You mightn’t like sight of the packages looking quite mainstream but you’ll love using their content !!
In the left corner, in the past the Naranzaria, meaning citrus market in Venetian, was located. These days, stylish cafes and bacari put their tables out on the banks of the Grand Canal. Just imagine enjoying coffee or a tramezzino and lemon tea here on a sunny October morning.
I love watching the vegetable boats arrive and how fresh produce from the lagoon Islands is being unloaded.
Continue walking under the arcades leading to the parts of the market called Erbaria (Herb Market) and Casaria (Cheese Market). Here you can find cheese and milk stores, artists’ shops and ateliers, butchers, little stores selling herbs and spices … and the fruit and vegetable stalls. There’s also the famous Casa del Parmigiano selling, amongst others, miele di barena (honey from the swampy Lagoon parts – read more about the barene in this blog post).
Until 1997, the mercato all’ingrosso was still located here. From 4 am in the morning, you could see boats loaded with crates of fruit and vegetables arrive from the Lagoon islands Le Vignole and Sant’Erasmo, from Treporti and the Cavallino/Iesolo zone. The video below shows market life on a winter morning …
Moving further ahead you arrive at the Pescaria (Fish Market). It’s open every day with the exception of Sunday and Monday. If you love fish and sea food, this is the place to be and find inspiration.
Finally, turn left and walk towards Campo Beccarie where the butchers’ stalls were once located, you can still see a few of them around. This square also represents a fine starting point for a bacari tour !!! But perhaps you’d just like to taste some of the best tramezzini in town at Bar Rialto which is a few steps ahead. It moved from under the arcades of Ruga degli Oresi to this new location in Ruga Spezieri in February 2016.
What I find so wonderful is how these shop owners take time not only to sell but also love giving advice. Do ask them a question, you will certainly benefit and will be surprised by their extensive knowledge!
To your left, the maze of calli leading towards Campo San Cassiano lies ahead. Taking this road you enter the world of the Venetian wine bars called bacari. Bacari have been around for more than a thousand years.
Turning left you arrive at my personal highlight in Venice, the finest spice and gourmet store in town, Drogheria Mascari.
On your way towards Campo San Polo, take a look at a part of the market that’s often overlooked. It’s the area stretching from Ruga degli Oresi towards Campo Rialto Novo and the Grand Canal. This part hosts a few of my favorite restaurants and bacari where you can taste food cooked after centuries-old recipes. For example, Trattoria alla Madonna in Calle della Madonna is one of them to taste Venetian Family Food.
If you looked at the weather forecast for Venice during the last few days, you may have seen that cooler weather was coming into town. Spells of rain and acqua alta at full moon, so resonating with the new exhibition on Acqua Granda (recalling the exceptional high tide of November 1966).
Let’s first start by showing you what the cake’s purpose is: Helping you accomodate to cooler weather. You can see by the colors that fall has finally arrived in Venice.
They look so beautiful, I just had to share them with you, pictures are taken by a Venetian friend and posted on her Instagram. Here’s even the island Poveglia during an autumn storm. This is the magic Lagoonscape in fall.
Even though October mornings can look “warm” and a bit like summer, they do have a cooler feel than September. When you leave the house early in the morning you find the air is moist and if you are lucky, the sun wins the battle with the fog. It meansans that the odd sun ray reaches your face and makes for very special light ..
This in-between season calls for special food and ingredients. This is where cardamom comes in.
Cardamom belongs to the ginger family, native in India and neighboring countries. It has a peppery- liquorice-aniseed-like smell and taste, harmonizing with the lemon juice in the cake recipe.
I suggest you accompany your cake with a fine cup of cardamom-flavored cappuccino on a a cool October morning. Instead of cardamom, you could also use cinnamon or liquorice, both for the cappuccino and the cake.
I call these days of late summer le giornate balsamiche. They are so calm and the light is different as the angle of the sun rays is changing. You notice there’s more dew (rugiada) on the blossoms, otherwise the flower beds are rather dry here. It looks dry and will remain so until mid-autumn when cooler weather sets in.
The soft sun invites us out to eat breakfast in the garden. Today we invite you to join us for weekend breakfast. Traditional, leisurely and sweet …
Grandmother’s traditional breakfast resembles very much breakfast eaten in the 1950s. First, it’s caffélatte – coffee and warm milk. When my grandmother was a child, in the 1930s her family loved eating roasted sweet polenta for breakfast !! Now she loves croissants and flavors her morning coffee with warm milk, ground cinnamon and star anise.
Sometimes we make croissants the day before and finish them in the oven in the morning to save time. Sometimes we buy an almond cake (torta greca) from a pasticceria, for example from Chiusso’s whose counter you can see below.
It could also be a piece of ricotta cake that you can see in the right bottom of the picture or a slice of Venetian torta al cioccolato. It’s made from a mixture of chocolate and cocoa, its frosting is delicious and soft !!
My weekend selection consists of a cup of herbal tea whose ingredients are freshly picked in the garden. It could be lavender and lemon balm… Then we love sitting in the calm morning sun when there’s absolutely no breeze. We water the plants and listen to the church bells and birds chirping in the sun.
I love a cup of Earl Grey tea in the morning and afterwards a cup of cappuccino during weekends. I might make pancakes which are favorites in Venice too !! In summer, they come with fruit and in winter you can see them offered as “street food” with Nutella. Here is ours, thin and crispy, flavored with home-made caramel sauce and garnished with basil, mint and raspberries from the garden.
We love homemade crostata di frutta – fruit cake in summer. In July we use nectarines and red currants from the garden. We also flavor the pancakes with cocoa and mint or lavender syrup so they take on a dark color. What we don’t eat here as a rule is muesli. We do have a warm variant, though, which is buddino al semolino al succo di uva di fragola – a warm semolina pudding flavored with strawberry grape juice.
I love cappuccino with delicious add-ons. This sunny Saturday morning I flavored my cappuccino with Campari 🙂 Flavoring coffee is a habit of Venetians that goes back until the late 17th century when the first cafes opened in town.
Grandmother is very strict with her morning coffee but she does like flavored milk with her caffé latte. That is, her coffee comes with a hint of cardamom and sometimes with star anise-flavored milk. We leave the star anise to infuse in hot milk for ten minutes and then foam the milk and pour it on the coffee.
During those first days of September, mornings in Venice are as bright and dark blue as you can see in the picture below, no hint of autumn as of now.
To make schiuma di latte al campari – Campari-flavored milk foam, whip up milk and pour the milk foam in your coffee. Then add 2 teaspoons of Campari and another spoonful of brown cane sugar. Sprinkle with cinnamon which enhances the flavor of the Campari, stir carefully and enjoy !!
Cappuccino in Italy, Venice is no exception, never comes with panna montata (whipped cream). The only recipe I know of is a type of latte macchiato we love on sunny autumn afternoons. It’s latte macchiato flavored with Frangelico, a favorite hazelnut liquor from the Piedmont. Grandfather used to make flavored hazelnut liquor himself.
Cava – coffee was known to the Venetian mercanti (spice merchants) and the spezieri (call them spice experts, for now) as early as in the 12th century. Back then, polvere de cava (dark coffee powder) and roasted coffee beans were considered “just another spice variant”. And the same was true for sucaro de canna – cane sugar was also considered a spice.
Last updated on 1 October 2018.
Merchants at the trading outposts of the Republic of Venice and Venetian sailors had come across an enticing black broth in the harbor cities of the Levant in the 11th century in Aleppo, Damascus, and in Constantinople in the 14th century.
From the 13th century, the Venetian spice merchants on site in the Levant brought home to Venice roasted coffee powder, distributed in town by the spezieri. These spezieri had their own laboratorio, and thus are considered the predecessors of modern apothecaries in Europe.
Imagine coffee as a remedy: Coffee was first sold by the spezieri and was medicine, or rather, a panacea! In the past, Venetians knew how to use coffee to stabilize mood and low circulation, or to fight off migraines, which you invariably notice in your head when the scirocco, a southerly wind bringing in humidity, warmth and often high tides, is due.
So in the spezerie (spice apothecaries) in Venice, coffee was offered sweetened with cane sugar, coal-black and always without milk. The migraine patients loved it, and so did practically all Venetians 🙂 And yes, in the 15th century, when chemical remedies weren’t available, coffee and spices played a major role in Venetian daily life to promote health, beauty, a good complexion, or in cuisine to enrich food and as ingredients for delicious pastries and little sweets.
As Venetians sort of “over-indulged” in these sweet remedies, which were easily available in town, the profession of spezieri da confetibecame fashionable. These are the predecessors of the pastry stores you will find in town these days.
Spezieri da confeti created sweet artworks, but also tiny pastries, called pasticceria mignon, in the 14th century. And Venetians were very inventive, using ingredients that also come from the remedy corner, such as blossom syrups (even wisteria and lilac syrup!), coffee and saffron-cinnamon liquors, acquavite, eggnog liquore al vovo, rosolio, coffee, cocoa powder, candied flower petals, and mimosa blossoms.
So now you know that long before cafes opened in Piazza San Marco, the spezieri sold coffee in their tiny botteghe in town. Next, coffee was sold in the malvasie (wine bars), where Venetian noblemen drank not just a glass of vino cipriota but also a lot of cups cup of invigorating black cava.
Today, Venetians still love their tiny coffee stores, pastry stores and bakeries. Practically all of them visit a pastry store at least once a day ! In a way, these our coffee shops are what remains of this one branch of spice stores dedicated to producing sweet breads enriched with natural ingredients, like blossom syrup, sweet spices and dried fruit.
Want to make a coffee, Venetian style of coffee? See how it is done at Torrefazione Cannaregio! But first, here’s your recipe!
Venetian Cappuccino, Autumn Mood
Can we enrich our cappuccino and clad it in autumn mood? Discover our variant for cold mornings, enriched with cinnamon and cardamom!
- 3 teaspoons ground coffee
- 5 teaspoons foamed, hot milk
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and cardamom each
Prepare your usual morning cappuccino, cover it with the milk foam and a teaspoon of cane sugar. Wait for two minutes to let the sugar dissolve in the mik without stirring. You will find that the sugar has created a light cap, which you cover with a hint of cinnamon and cardamom. Drink hot and enjoy with Venetian almond delights!