Venice has been an extremely popular tourist destination for a long time now, and that has changed the city in many ways. Despite what you might think, though, it is still possible to get a sense of normal life in Venice. If you want to escape the tourist shops and walk around a real neighborhood, go to Cannaregio. It’s Venice’s largest and northernmost district. There, you’ll have the opportunity to meet locals at the many butchers shops, bakeries, restaurants and bars. I’m going to tell you about a couple of places you may want to try.
If you’re looking to stop in somewhere to enjoy a bite to eat and a refreshing glass of good wine, try Al Timon (Fondamenta degli Ormesini). It’s easy to see why it’s popular with both young and old and teeming with locals as well as tourists. It’s known for its cichetti, which are small snacks, or small plates. Try the crostini topped with a variety of spreads, grilled vegetables, and charcuterie platters, all at great prices. In warm weather you can sit at one of the tables at the edge the Ormesini canal. If you’re lucky, you may even get to enjoy a jazz concert while you’re there.
Old World Books is one of those cozy book stores that is filled to the brim with books. And we’re talking about books that you won’t find just anywhere. The collection includes lots of rare books on Italy and Venice that are piled on just about every surface in the store. The owner, who is a transplant from London, also hosts poetry readings and discussions. It’s located in the historic Jewish Ghetto and is just off the Campo del Gheto Novo and over a small bridge called Ponte del Gheto Vecio.
If you’re more in the mood for a romantic dinner for two, try the Osteria Al Bacco (Fondamenta Capuzine). In addition to great food, you’ll be able to escape the crowds since this little place is discreetly tucked away far down the Canal delle Capuzine. One of the older Osterias in Venice, they offer traditional Venetian fare with great pasta and fish dishes. I’d recommend sharing a few dishes, such as the fritto misto, or fried mixed seafood, and the squid ink pasta. In warm weather, there are a few tables outside along the canal, but the wood-paneled dining room is very inviting with its simple furnishings and warm colors.
If you’re looking for a good, fast and affordable lunch, head over to Da Luce e Fred (Rio Tera San Leonardo). You can get great cichetti, which are priced individually, and good wine. The locals tend to come out for that day’s dish at noon, but they also offer a three-course “menu turistico” for €13.50. Their prices are hard to beat. Please note, though, that they are closed on Wednesdays.
There are so many interesting shops, restaurants and bars to be discovered in the Cannaregio neighborhood. All you need to do is wander around a bit and you’re guaranteed to find a something that will spark your interest.
Why not rent an apartment in Venice instead of staying in a hotel? Check out the list of apartments available in the Cannaregio district and discover how charming Venice can be.