Venice is full of little back-street bars known as bacari that offer small tapas-style snacks called cicchetti (“chick-et-tee”). We took a stroll on the quest for foodie gems and ducked into the old school bars, which felt buzzy and yet untainted by the sea of tourists just around the corner at the Rialto Bridge. We gathered around a wooden barrel outside Cantina do Mori and tucked into our plates of tempting seafood treats – baccalà mantecato, a Venetian signature of creamed cod spread over bread and vibrant baby octopus washed down with a specially produced Prosecco. All ‘Arco attracted a trendy crowd and the guys at Al Merca, more of a ‘hole in the wall’ service, lined up a round of obligatory Aperol Spritz for us.
The Rialto Bridge is nearby and worth a visit in the early hours when the market is in full swing and there are more locals out and about than tourist groups. Suso Gelatoteca is ideally placed for a quick gelato stop off and close enough to the bridges to take a quick Insta snap before its flavours melt into one.
It is definitely worth planning in some time to simply get lost winding through the bridges and alleyways and you’ll be sure to stumble upon something special (we’ve heard that the Castello area is particularly good for this).
Imagine scenes of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, whose paths crossed on their way to Venice in the film, The Tourist, as you pause for a coffee at the iconic Caffè Florian. It may be a tourist hotspot but don’t let that detract from the buzz of the piazza and the spectacular domes of the Basilica.
Hotel Danieli made us feel right at home and we sat out on the terrace to enjoy a Caffè Shakerato (our new favourite word) and later returned for something stronger just because the staff were so welcoming and we wanted to see the views from their terrace once more. Opposite, across the water, is the San Giorgio Maggiore bell tower which has stunning views looking back over at the famous Piazza San Marco.
We enjoyed a drink in the serene surroundings of the Biennale gardens, home to the famous arts organisation and star-studded biannual exhibition. The Serra dei Giardini (greenhouse) came highly recommended by the fabulous Venice-based Instagrammer, Elisabetta of @labettarossa, and was the perfect spot with light spilling through the panes as we browsed the greenery and learnt about its origin as house to the palms used in Biennale events.
Another gem on our list from Elisabetta was We Crociferi, a rather grand building and yet humble host to students, university staff and travellers as well as visitors seeking a coffee or cocktail in a fun environment. The handsome barmen even agreed to give us a little Spritz master class – swoon.
And the one we saved until last is the most colourful of all; Burano island is next level Instagram material that you will love. The rows of vibrant facades radiate happiness on this island known for its lace embroidery as well as serving up a delicious seafood risotto. We had the most incredible lunch of seafood antipasti at traditional Trattoria al Gatto Nero, followed by Risotto di gò – a traditional Venetian dish invented in the 1500s by the fishing communities of burano made with "ghiozzi" fish.
Needless to say that we returned from our trip with a long list of spots to revisit…
Have a flick through some of our snaps and tell us you’re not already picturing your Instagram feed with a little more Burano in your life.