In the whimsical adriatic city of Venice, the citizens practice a wonderful little custom called the “giro di ombre” (the wheel of shade). It is not the custom of all Venetians, but mostly men and usually older men. However , this particular being said, you do not have to be a guy to participate. You not have to be old. Anyone can do it, and in reality many younger Venetians (including women) are now caught up in this thing called the giro. Mostly though, you will see categories of men, three, five, or six, maybe more, one can even get it done solo. I often go alone myself. Don’t worry about being on your own. You will make many friends along the way, for that’s part of the “giro, inch making new friends, eating, drinking, in general, having a great time.
What is this giro di ombre you ask?
The particular giro di ombre is a marvelous little ritual that began close to venice’s rialto market some six hundred years ago. The merchants of the rialto market, wanting to take a little break from hawking their wares, might run to the nearest wine bar to get out of the sun and have a little nip of wine accompanied by small tidbits of food(cichetti) to go using the wine. When these merchants went to the wine bars, known as bacari, translation to “house of bachus, ” they’d say they wanted a “ombra, ” the latin phrase for shade. They wanted to step out of the sun and into the shade. On time, a glass of wine within venice became know as an “ombra.
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” So if one day you have the good fortune to make it to one of venice’s many enchanting little wine-bars (bacaro), you belly up to the bar, order “un ombra rosso” if you want a cup of the house red, or “un ombra bianco” if you’d like a glass of white wine. It’s as simple because that, and you are speaking in the fantastic venetian dialect. Like a true venetian!
When you go into the wine-bars of Venice, you will undoubtedly see a tantalizing display of food attractively displayed in platters on the bar. These items associated with food are “cichetti, ” tidbits of prepared food that come in very small portions so you can try 3, four, five, maybe even 6 or more. The cichetti generally cost about $1. 00-$2. 50. They are made to be very affordable and are within small portions so people can order a few different items intended for variety.
What are the cichetti, you ask? Just what the venetian dialect means, cichetti are small tidbits associated with food. There exist quite a great variety of items as far as cichetti are worried. The most traditional and popular cichetti are; grilled shrimp or squid, braised or fried meatballs, cotechino, musetto (pigs snout sausage, “yum! “), nerveti, octopus salad, bacala mantecato (whipped salt-cod), and sarde en saour(sardines marinated with vinegar and onions). You might also find a good array of small sandwiches (panini & tramezzini) that are filled with all sorts of tasty fillings such as crab salad, speck (smoked prosciutto), shrimp, ham with mushrooms and tomato, and much, much more. These sandwiches are also part of the cichetti and are priced around $1. 00 or two as well.
You might be convinced that cihetti are like Spanish tapas. “Yes, ” exactly. I might add the fact that venetians started this ritual a few hundred years before the spanish did, only the “cichetti” of venice never caught on all over the Italian peninsular the way that tapas did throughout Italy where tapas and tapas bars are a way of life.
So you go into the bacaro and order your ombra rosso or bianco. Survey the fabulous array of cichetti and order a few items of your choice. A typical sample dish of these marvelous little tidbits may go like this; a couple pieces of cooked squid, one sarde en saor, a crostino of baccala montecato (whipped salt cod), and maybe a few fried meatballs. “Bon apetito! ” All this should not cost you more than seven or eight dollars. In the content days prior to the euro an ombra and a say four pieces of cichetti would cost you about $4. 50, nowadays it will be almost double that. Unfortunately, that’s life. Things change, never-the-less, it’s still a pretty great deal.
So you’ve just had your best wonderful experience in a venetian wine-bar. What to do next? Go check out a different one of course! Ask one of the locals for a suggestions or cross one off your own personal list. If you have one.
Ahh, you’re at you second bacaro. Why not try one of Venice’s most widely used aperitifs? A “spritz. ” The spritz is simply white wine using a splash of compari or aperol with soda and a twist of lemon. Quite refreshing. Very venetian. For those of you who love prosecco, you’ll be happy to know that Venice is the “prosecco capital of the world” and you can order one in any bacaro. Save the particular bellini’s for harry’s bar, and if you do, save your money as well, regarding at this point in time, a bellini on the ultra chic harry’s bar will cost you about $15 u. S. Dollars. They are absolutely delicious, but they drop like water.
Order a prosecco. Some nice treats to go together with your venetian bubbly, would be a couple small crab tramezzini or one shrimp and one crab, both go perfectly with a crisp, fresh glass associated with local prosecco.
Besides the tasty food and splendid Italian wine, you will find great atmosphere in venetian wine-bars. You will meet and chat with locals in addition to people who come to Venice from all around the world. The venetian bacaro, which usually incidentally translates to house of bacchus, bacchus, the roman god of wine.
Go to venice, engross yourself in its many bacari (bacaro is definitely singular, bacari plural) and you are sure to be entranced in a true bacchanalia sort of way.
Suggested bacari (wine bars of Venice):
Al volto: located on the calli cavalli, San Marco
A great old style bacaro, serving good inexpensive local wine, traditional cihetti, wonderful pasta, risotto, and fresh seafood from the rialto market.
Samtliga vedova: cannaregio 3912, ramo ca’d’oro
Tucked in a small alleyway off the strada nuova, alla vedova is the authors pick for as one of Venice’s greatest bacaro. Alla vedova has the superior bacaro décor and ambiance, they will serve superb cichetti at the club, which is always filled with fun loving regulars of the giro de ombre. This particular bar gets very crowded sometimes and you will have to vie for a place at the bar for tasty baccala and the best fried meatballs around. As you enjoy yourself at the bar while watching diners sitting at table in the lovely little dining-room, you may get the urge to sit down for a wonderful meal with some pasta, risotto, or lower legs liver venenziana. Do it!
All’arco, san palo 436, calle dell’occhialer
this tiny little (14’x 8′) wine-bar is one of Venice’s most traditional. You will usually only find locals here, but they love to see the periodic foreigner drop in. They will desired you with open arms, because they did to me when I stumbled upon this little establishment on my first ever “giro de ombar. ” You will discover very traditional old style cichetti not many place make any more, for example nerveti (nerve), tetina (cows udder), rumegal, and other funky items like musetto (pigs snout sausage). These guys delight in turning novices on to the real deal. The close quarters are great, as they medicine interaction between you and the locals that are very nice in this wonderful little “gem. ”
Do mori, san palo 429, calle dei do mori
You might want to check out do mori since it is one of Venice’s most historical wine-bars. However , you might be a little disappointed. I used to be, as the owners are cold instead of very cordial. Their coldness pervades through the place, which is a shame that place could be wonderful if only the proprietors did not posses the individuality of some “dead fish” lying down around the rialto market. “Sorry fish, didn’t mean to insult a person. ” “Get my drift? inch
Al paradiso perduto, on the fondamenta miscordia in Cannaregio
You know if you stubble across a place you have never been to before and go in to have one of the best times imaginable? That’s what happened to me when I was on one of my typical exploratory walks close to venice one fine sunday afternoon in april of 2001. I used to be walking by and saw that will al paradiso was my kind of place; cool, old, with lots of character. The place was jumping with a really hip looking crowd. I sat down for a nice little lunchtime of antipasto misto and some adriatic sole. Halfway through my dinner, I was more than pleasantly surprised when a punk quartet set up on the fondumenta right outside the restaurant. There was a striper player, guitar, trumpet, and even the piano player who rolled their “baby grande” right up to the place. The band was exceptional.