“Venice seems to be a city built for drinking,” says Ransom Riggs on Mental Floss -- “its streets lined with charming little bars dispensing good, cheap wine; it's also the city that invented the Bellini, and if that weren't enough, and there are very few ways to get a DUI in Venice, where most wheeled conveyances are outlawed.” The “Italian version of happy hour and the local version of tapas come together for a uniquely Venetian evening activity: the bacaro-tour,” explains The Culture Trip, where “people go from bar to bar, drinking wine or spritz and eating different little bites of food.” The best aperitivos are “usually the ones sitting around a public square, or la piazza,” says Triposo. “It's a great excuse to relax, enjoy the sun (or sunset) while catching up on the local gossip and news.”
Venetians drink more wine than water. It is an obligatory part of the day, punctuating the morning, providing a pause at lunch time and bookending the working day at 6pm, only to segue smoothly into the evening. “An ombra [a small glass of wine], a cicheto [snack], another Spritz, two cicheti, then a Prosecco, and why not, another cicheto… Eventually it ends with dinner, if the polpette (meatballs) or baccalà mantecato (dried salt cod) served at the counter haven’t left them replete,” explain Philippe and Oscar Duboÿ in the Louis Vuitton City Guide. Signature Venetian drinks from the Guide include:
Spritz: “Venice’s bitter and bubbly technicolour cocktail” Bellini: “The pretty pink, peach cocktail invented at Harry’s Bar” Prosecco: “The sparkling white that’s the life of any Venetian party” Valpolicella Classico: “The chef’s choice – a versatile, virtuoso red” Lugana: “A well-structured, minerally white worthy of Palladio” Raboso del Piave: “Brash when young, brilliant with age” Amarone: “A profound voluptuous red”
Venice’s wine bar culture is rooted in three famous neighbouring regions, notes Lauren Mowery in Saveur. Soave, Prosecco and Valpolacella help sustain a “robust web of diminutive bars called bacari, spread across Venice’s labyrinth of alleyways.” Often standing-room-only, the fare is akin to the tapas of Madrid or the pintxos of Basque country, a daily selection of small bites called cicchetti, along with glasses of regional wine referred to as ombre. The trend is for bars to go deluxe, away from their roots as more working-class destinations offer simpler, more rustic wines. Offerings from more obscure regions sit alongside local wines and ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ bottles.
Sign up for Guidebook's weekly collection of fresh stories and useful news about Venice for travelers. It’s free.