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The best Venice food tour

The best Venice food tour

Time and time again, the highlight of any of our trips to Italy has been the local experiences or tours we have tried and tested. Our current trip to Venice has been no exception. Hands down, one of the most memorable parts of our stay has been the Venice food tour we enjoyed.

Our guide for the morning was the wonderful Ana, a bubbly, knowledgeable and fun guide that certainly knows her stuff when it comes to the food and drink of Venice. She’ll tell you all the best places to visit away from the tourist traps and, what is more, she’ll introduce you to some of the best shopkeepers, chefs and food sellers in the city.

venice food tour

Our Venice food tour started at a family run bakery – Mauro El Forner de Canton – not far from the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge). Family run for four generations since it was founded over 80 years ago, the bread and cakes are freshly baked each day. Try the sfogliatine, small rectangular shaped pastries, so-called since the word sfoglia means sheets in Italian and these sweet treats consist of layers of puff pastry, coated with a sweet apricot glaze and baked to a crisp. It was the perfect sweet treat to kick off our food tour of Venice, light enough that it wouldn’t spoil our appetite for all the other treats to come.

From here, it was on to the nearby Cantina Do Mori. A popular bacaro (bar) frequented by locals (particularly Venetian men past a certain age), here we could enjoy the typical Venetian tradition of cicchetti. These are arguably best described as small plates of food, not dissimilar to the concept of tapas in Spain. The bar itself oozes character and charm. Dating back to the mid 15th century, copper pots hang from the ceiling whilst a wooden counter runs along one side of the room. Whilst there, we feasted on artichokes and delicious ubriaco cheese. Ubriaco means drunk and it refers to the process by which the cheese is made, when it is covered with crushed grapes for up to 6 months, giving the cheese a purple rind and a delicious fruitiness.

venice food tour

Whilst it was still mid morning, the temptation to participate in the tradition of enjoying a small glass of wine – ombra – with our food proved far too much to resist. The Venetians certainly have a reputation for enjoying an early morning tipple, moving from bar to bar to quench their thirst with a cheeky glass of red or white. The word ombra literally means shadow or shade and it’s a word used by Venetians to describe a small glass of wine measuring one tenth of a litre. In some of the bars and cafes of Venice, you’ll find that ombre still sell for as little as a euro a glass. At 11 in the morning, one tenth of a litre seemed more than generous to me!

Our food tour of Venice also included a stop at the Rialto fish market. This market is open every Tuesday to Saturday morning from 7.30 until 1.00. The stalls here were laiden with seafood, most of which had been sourced from the Venetian lagoon. Soft shell crabs, giant eels, tuna, swordfish and much more were all on display and available to buy as were both octopus, squid and cuttlefish. Whilst all three of these may taste very similar, it’s the cuttlefish and squid that produce the incredible black ink and which are used to create the famous Venetian dish – Seppie al Nero all Veneziana – in which the squid is stewed in its own ink. The result feels like you are literally enjoying a taste of the salty sea. It was a delicacy we tried a little later on our food tour of Venice at the popular Acqua e Mais. Incidentally, take the time to watch the stallholders prepare the seafood for their clients. We were lucky enough to see them preparing the octopus and squid side by side. Their knife skills are incredibly impressive!

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Adjacent to the fish market is the fruit and vegetable market. Both markets are very much the opportunity to see the locals going about their daily life. It was incredible to watch one gentleman rapidly prepare the artichokes here. Unlike in Rome, Venetians only use the artichoke hearts in their cuisine, discarding the leaves which are used to make Cynar, a bitter Venetian aperitif which, when combined with soda and prosecco, is used to serve up a delicious Cynar Spritz. The latter is similar to the more well known Aperol Spritz but has a greater degree of bitterness. Interestingly, the tour also introduced us to a third spritz option – Select Spritz. Incidentally, I tried the latter the evening after our tour and would recommend it to anyone who finds Aperol a little too bitter. All three drinks are traditionally garnished with either an orange slice or an olive.

venice food tour

Our penultimate stop on our Venice food tour allowed us to enjoy yet more opportunities to sample the delicious Venetian cicchetti. Incidentally, the tour includes a certain number of samples but you are always more than welcome to purchase more if you want. Whilst the array of treats on offer was incredibly tempting, I personally found that more than plenty was included without the need to purchase extras.

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The tour was topped off with a stop at a nearby award-winning gelateria. Since the weather was hotting up by now, the chance to cool off with some refreshing gelato was the perfect end to this food tour of Venice. Whilst I like to think I’ve tried and tasted most gelato flavours on my travels of Italy, there was a new flavour typical of Venice – Crema di Doge – which I hadn’t sampled before and which, I have to say, was absolutely scrumptious. It was a deliciously creamy combination of candied orange and chocolate. Younger ones enjoying this Venice food tour may want to sample one of the stores milkshakes instead.

Huge thanks to the wonderful Ana for her enthusiasm and guidance and for sharing her wealth of knowledge with us.

This Venice food tour costs approximately £40 pp and offers exceptional value for money.

Book this food tour of Venice. And make the most of the rest of your time in Venice by booking skip the line tickets for Venice‘s top attractions and booking your tickets for other tours of Venice led by equally qualified experts.

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