Bacari & Cicheti
Insider guide to the 5 best bars in the Lagoon city
I was born in Venice and spent my entire childhood playing between the canals and bridges of this unique and magical city, which is why it saddens me to see how Venice is often presented to today's tourists like a gigantic floating fun park.
There's so much more to Venice than gondolas and souvenirs. That's why I want to take you to five places where you're guaranteed to get a truly authentic taste of the lagoon city:
The 5 best bacari in Venice!
The origin of the word for Venice's traditional bars is uncertain, but it's widely believed that "bàcaro" derives from an expression used by a gondolier who, having tasted the year's new wine, declared "xe proprio un vin da bàcaro" (now that's a wine fit for a party).
Bacareto da Lele
This tiny bacaro, on the side of Campo dei Tolentini, is something of an institution in Venice. The place is so small that you have to eat standing up, perhaps balancing your plate of cicheti (nibbles in Venetian dialect) on one of the barrels outside the bar - but, hey, that's all part of the fun!
One of the reasons Bacareto da Lele is so popular is that it's incredibly cheap: 90 centimes for a panino and just a few centimes more for a glass of wine. Don't miss it!
Al Bocon Divino
From Bacareto da Lele we head towards Campo Santa Margherita and the second bacaro on the tour.
At Al Bocon Divino an impressive variety of cicheti are served: from classic sandwiches to chunks of potato and ham omelet. Prices start from 1 euro a piece.
Campo Santa Margherita is full of bars, just choose the one which most takes your fancy. Be warned though: some of these bars have "adapted" their menus to please the tourists and, as a consequence, have lost much of their original Venetian appeal.
Al Cantinone già Schiavi (Ai Sciavi)
A little further on, just beyond the Calle de la Toletta, we turn right and walk along the Fondamenta Nani where, in front of one of the few remaining "squeri veneziani" (ancient shipyards where rowing boats were built), we come across one of the oldest inns in Venice: Al Cantinone già Schiavi, known to the locals as "Ai S'ciavi" meaning "Agli Schiavi" in Italian or "Slaves" in English.
The prices are surprisingly low here too: 1 euro per cicheto.
Try the crostini with creamed codfish or tuna and leek - you won't be disappointed!
From Al Cantinone già Schiavi, we make our way towards Rialto, walking past the Accedemia bridge to reach the Campo San Bartolomeo and the Sotoportego de la Bissa where our next watering hole, the Rosticceria Gislon, is located.
After a day in the office, this is where Venetians come for a feast of deep fried mozzarella sandwiches with anchovies or ham (1.50 euro each) and polpette (that's meatballs to you and me), accompanied by a glass of wine or a classic spritz.
Osteria al Ponte
To reach the last bacaro on the tour, we head in the direction of the district of Castello, following the signs to the Ospedale San Giovanni e Paolo.
The Osteria al Ponte is located at the foot of a bridge, just before the Campo San Giovanni e Paolo. The place is small, the staff are friendly and the typical Venetian cicheti are delicious.
Spoilt for choice? The sardines, squid and polenta, and sautéed mussels always go down a treat!
Osteria al Ponte is an old fashioned bacaro, where the important thing is to eat well and drink even better, in the company of friends or - why not?- people you've never seen in your life before!
The jovial hosts, both born and bred in Venice, can often be found chatting with customers, either sat at one of the bacaro's little tables or on the steps of the bridge - a glass of wine in hand.
Our Insider is Liz Au
I'm a traveler and a dreamer, currently studying for a degree in Tourism (which I can't wait to finish).
My burning ambition? To become a fulltime, professional Travelblogger!
Travelling with Liz was born about a year ago. This is where I recount my travel experiences, including my culinary adventures (if there's one thing I love as much as travelling - it's eating!)
Who am I? Pages full of words and emotions. Want to know more? Read my blog!
Could you be our next Insider? Share your love of Italy by contributing to ItalyTraveller! See how!
Food & Drink
Hotels in the area
From € 95.00
From € 145.00
From € 189.00
From € 81.00
From € 165.00
From € 250.00
From € 80.00
From € 89.00
From € 126.00