A stroll through the “Bacari” – First Part
It is difficult to find words to describe Venice.
In the hours in which thousands of tourists leave the city center, strolling around “calli”, streets, and “campi” fields, as in a 16th century painting, this city knows how to gift you with a unique experience, in which one should indulge at least once in a lifetime.
Find yourself a comfortable accommodation, leave your luggage and go out leaving behind everything you’re used to about traffic and common sense: just let yourself be astonished.
There is no better way to discover Venice than touring the Bacari, the typical venetian Osterias: just choose an area and pinpoint the most recommended places, or else, follow your “nose”. Never mind if you won’t find the shortest way to reach them: to get lost is absolutely part of the program (especially when the alcoholic level rises).
At each step, a sip of wine and some “cicheto” (snack). And then off to the next bacaro.
It’s not important whether the word derives from the god “Bacchus” or from “far bacara” (to jollify) in venetian dialect. The Bacari were basically vintners that at the times of the Most Serene Republic of Venice used to go to piazza San Marco to sell their nectar along with simple snacks, that is the “cicheti”.
These sellers would follow the shadow of the bell tower to protect the wine from the sun. From here, comes the word “ombra”, part of the culture and of the history of the whole Veneto region.
This concept has certainly evolved through time, but still today the Bacari are a perfect solution for eating and drinking in Venice at a reasonable price.
You will find good or – more often – mediocre wines, unforgettable and to be forgotten cicheti, but this will never be the key: the Bacari tour is an aptitude of the mind. You have to enjoy it completely: in a chat with a host, in a stolen glimpse through a window which opens on a painted ceiling that cuts your breath, in the taste and the softness of a simple fried meatball which you seemed to have forgotten.
This is all part of the show and of the ticket, even the double price for places and tourist, in a city that doesn’t conceal this double treatment: this is Venice, love it or leave it. But who knows how, you always love it. With the high water, its paradoxes, its fleetingness. But also with its magic, class and elegance.
This is Italy too, we should keep our luck in mind.
A city that digs in your soul, especially in the nightly hours.
A city where the “slow wade of the steamboat through the night is as the pass of a coherent thought through the subconscious.” (Iosif Brodskij, “Fondamento degli incurabili)
We focused on the Rialto-San Marco area, but we will go back to explore also the other magnificent parts of this jewel-city.
Osteria alla Ciurma Wine Bar
Let’s start from the place that convinced us the least, for the quality of both wine and cicheti. Limited choice already at 06:30 pm, for a place that we won’t surely point out as an unforgettable one ##rather not
A real tiny bacaro, literally open on the campo. Well attended by students, a popular place indeed. It has surely to do with the excellent, high standard by-the-glass wine list. It won’t be difficult to find a less conventional bottle. Not bad the cicheti too, most of all the meat and tuna balls. #intelligent stylish
First of all, a nice place where you can sit and have a relaxed chat. And you can find an interesting and uncommon choice of chiceti. They tease you, by replacing the usual bread with polenta, garnished in the most different ways. Our choice fell on rosemary polenta with aubergines, octopus and lard, and on parsley polenta with baked codfish and ricotta with horseradish. But also a simple sandwich with mortadella will surely do (and they really don’t scrimp on with the slices of meat).
Wine choice without praise or blame, yet this is a place where you can feel definitely fine.
In summer you can even sit outside with a view on the Canal Grande, and that’s something indeed.
This is a really outstanding bacaro. Just like the owner, Giovanni, one of those personalities that make the price worth it. Get in feeling like you want to have fun and you will have a lot of it. You can even pick the host who’ll be glad to back up. Great bottles on the walls (therefore “greatly” expensive), excellent sandwiches with also peculiar fillings. The one we chose, with smoked salmon, was good. And then three types of hand sliced ham: Cormons (D’Osvaldo), Parma 36 months, Cinta senese 24 months. But here is really the host who makes the difference. Very recommended, mind the bill, though.
The bottles on the wall: enjoy it
A glimpse of the bar: the place is small, but a few stools and high tables make it for a comfortable stop
The hand sliced ham
Ask host Giovanni for a Spritz and then tell us how he replied.
To be continued…