Venice is without any doubt one of the most popular and fascinating cities of Italy, visited every year by millions of tourists attracted by its art and romantic atmosphere.
Unfortunately most people tend to disregard this city as a gastronomic destination, probably due to the fact that most of the central restaurants are often too touristy to offer genuine food and wine experiences. On the contrary, once away from the usual tourist paths, Venice can offer to the visitor a long and interesting gastronomic culture paired by an intensive regional production of fine wines.
Indeed, this city, once known as the `Serenissima` Republic of Venice, has been one of the most influential economic and trading powers of the World since the Middle Ages and one the most strategic port in the Italian peninsula where goods from all over the world were arriving. Already around the 11th century, Venice was importing foods and habits from the countries with which it entertained business relationships; these included spices, rice and coffee from the Middle East and Asia, salt cod from the Baltic routes, corn as well as potatoes from the Americas.
All these ingredients found their place within the ancient agricultural and fishing local culture, creating an extremely rich mix of flavours and an impressive culinary tradition which has left signs as well in the neighbouring regions.
Among the delicious dishes that the perfect Venetian meal should include there are `risi e bisi`, a risotto with green peas known since the times of the Doge, the `sarde in saor`, deep fried sardines, and the `fegato alla veneziana`, a pan fried calf’s liver cooked with lots of onions.
People genuinely looking to experience local habits, should also try the `cichetti` in one of the lively bars and taverns or (as the locals like to call them) `bacari`. This ancient tradition, that had been abandoned in the past, to be rediscovered recently, consists in a variety of delicious finger foods served with the aperitif before lunch or dinner. Most often the aperitif is a spritz or a fizzy glass of florally scented Prosecco (produced in the area of Treviso, about 1h and half drive from Venice).
The regional wine production offers perfect pairings to the local cuisine and a wide choice of options to wash down your meal including crispy white wines such as the Soave from the hills surrounding Verona, or the Colli Euganei of the province of Padua, intense and deep red wines such as the Amarone of the Valpolicella area and luscious sweet wines such as the Breganze Torcolato.
Venice also has a long history of fine patisserie and pastry shops with their mouth-watering windows can be easily found along the cosy city alleys.
If you want to explore the local food and wine, check out our Tasting Venice Food Tour or take a hiking tour among the vineyards of Valdobbiadene and Cartizze.