A Weekend Trip to Italy: Venice
~ A Guide to my Favourite Neighbourhood in Venice ~
If you follow Lois Avery on Instagram, you will know that I recently spent a very special weekend in Venice with my Father and 10-year-old son. Venice is always a good idea when visiting Italy, in my opinion. Between the canals and food, it’s one of my favorite cities to go exploring. Although our trip was only a few days, I had to create a journal entry of some magnificent, must-visit places.
If Venice is on your calendar, I highly suggest marking down a few ideas from this little mini guide. Here’s our weekend at a glance...
Why Cannaregio is My Favourite Neighbourhood
I found deciding where we should stay really tricky, as there are so many options. It’s not that Venice is overly large, but it is divided up into six districts or sestieri: San Marco, Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Polo and Santa Croce. Of these, there are two neighbourhoods I am particularly fond of - Cannaregio and Dorsoduro.
I stayed in Dorsoduro with my husband a couple of years ago and we loved visiting the local cicchetti bars, particularly Cantine del Vino Gia Schiavi, and the wonderful collection of modern art at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. It was when we were looking for something to do to fill our Sunday afternoon that the concierge in our hotel pulled out his map and circled Cannaregio. I can honestly say that I fell in love with this vibrant neighbourhood that day. I was so excited to stay in Cannaregio a year later when I returned with a group of girlfriends, which only deepened my love of the area.
Before this most recent trip, as I looked at the map deciding between these two neighbourhoods, unhelpfully at opposite ends of Venice, I concluded the canals of Cannaregio were the best place to 'pretend' we lived for our 48 hours in Venice!
Thankfully it turns out that Cannaregio is very family friendly. My son was welcomed everywhere we went. My Father and I were keen to visit the wine bars of Fondamenta della Misericordia, and so we appointed my son chief cicchetti (Venetian tapas) procurer. He's an adventurous eater and adores anchovies and sardines, so he was in heaven. He loved the independence of ordering 5 or 6 cicchetti of his choice from the bar, critiquing each one, and declaring a favourite.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. More details on all the food and drink are below. We ended up staying in a lovely AirBnB near Rio di Sant'Alvise and set about exploring our local area. If you’re looking to get to know Cannaregio, these are my recommendations ...
Cannaregio, 1818, 30121
My son and I started each morning by going in search of pastry (him) and cappuccino (me). We stumbled upon Nobile Pasticceria on our first morning and ended up going back the next day because the cornetti with crema was just so good. It was also fun to sit in the window sipping cappuccino and watch the neighbourhood wake up. This is one of my favourite things to do when travelling in general.
Venice is famous for its cicchetti bars, and any evening between 5.30pm-7.30pm these bars will be crowded with people spilling out onto the canals. This makes for some of the best people watching. Particularly if you love taking lessons on Italian style! So many stylish men and women to be seen out and about.
If you’re travelling with kids, don’t be afraid to still have this experience. One of the lovely things about these bars is that they are multigenerational, so our little party fit in perfectly.
Fondamenta de la Misericordia, 2497, 30121
My favourite wine bar in Venice is Vino Vero. That same day we first discovered the joys of Cannaregio is when we stumbled upon this lovely wine bar. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a very memorable glass of ‘orange’ Pinot Grigio.
Since our visit, I've actually read about the bar in numerous publications, including Conde Nast Traveller.
Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754, 30121
Al Timon is a small and cosy cicchetti bar and it's probably the most popular bar along this canal. It's quite tricky to squeeze past on a Saturday night given the crowds, but I love that the seating extends to a floating barge in the canal out front. Enjoy a €7 glass of Amarone with your cicchetti.
Bacaro del Gelato
Fondamenta de la Misericordia, 2499, 30121
This tiny gelato bar is located next to Vino Vero. How convenient, right? I enjoyed a very generous scoop of creamy zabaione gelato in a delicate cone for the amazing price of €1.70. Sit on the bridge outside and enjoy your gelato for a classic Italian experience!
My Favourite Restaurant
Trattoria Dalla Marisa
Fondamenta di San Giobbe 652B, 30121
Why settle for a generic trattoria with tacky photographs of the food on the menu, when you can enjoy some of the best seafood of your life with the locals on a rowdy terrace by a canal? Having done my research on this one in advance, I was certain I wanted my Father to experience Trattoria Dalla Marisa, a very local fish restaurant.
Unfortunately, I didn't feel confident enough with my Italian to call ahead and book a table, so we decided to chance it on a Saturday night knowing that it was highly probable we would be turned away. We turned up at the same time as a large birthday party and were offered the terrace by the canal along with them. It was a clear, but chilly night, however, there were a couple of patio heaters so we decided to give it a try, and I am so glad we did.
On Saturday evenings, Trattoria Dalla Marisa offers a €40 set menu including wine, which is an amazing value for Venice. My father had a jug of local red wine (wine is often sold by the decanter at trattorias) while I had the white and we began our feast.
There was much serenading and conversing in a language somewhere between English and Italian with the birthday party guests between courses, which was a happy and welcome surprise. They were so kind that they sacrificed their puffer coats for my son when he started to feel cold.
The appetisers were a generous selection of six sharing plates: steaming hot polenta, fried mussels (amazing), sardines cooked with onions, a plate of stockfish, a fish salad and a portion of octopus, tomato and chili stew (incredible).
The primi piatti was a perfect creamy fish lasagne - I will be raving about this dish for years to come. The secondi, a plate of fried fish including enormous prawns and calamari. Finally, just when we thought we couldn't take anymore, we finished with biscotti and zabaione. It really was the most extraordinary meal served in such a fun and lively setting. Thank you to our Italian friends for making our evening so special.
And for something a bit different …
Via Cannaregio, 1939 - 19525 Campiello de L'Anconeta - 30121
Teatro Italia must be the most beautiful supermarket in Italy. This was formerly a theatre and is now a beautiful supermarket under the Despar brand. I challenge you to find a more beautiful spot to buy a carton of milk or a pack of Fonzies crisps.
Hopefully you feel inspired to visit Venice and set out some of the quieter and more local areas on your next trip!