An aperitif in Venice with typical cicchetti

Venice is a city of flavours, in every sense. Visitors generally enjoy following the local custom of an aperitif with a good glass of wine (called ombra in Venice) served with an array of delicious snacks.

These are known in Venice as cicchetti, crostini of bread or polenta served in typical bacari (osterias) in Venice, generally to be eaten standing up or more comfortably seated at a table. Typical cicchetti can be hot or cold and come in a variety of flavours: you might find the crostini topped with egg and anchovies, soppressa with polenta, fried crab claws, fried vegetables, curled octopus with polenta, crab balls, marinated anchovies, grilled baby squid, or even salami or cheese. But the tastiest of all cicchetti are definitely those topped with the famous baccalà mantecato, or with sarde in saor, another typical fish dish from the Lagoon. It is because of the great variety of ingredients that the cicchetti adapt well to so many styles, from delicate flavours to bold experiments with innovative modern alternatives.

An alternative to cicchetti with your aperitif are tramezzini veneziani, or sandwiches, served in many bars in this historic centre. Remember, however, that cicchetti and tramezzini absolutely must be accompanied by an ombra of wine, or the classical spritz, the Venetian aperitif that has become popular worldwide, a combination of prosecco, seltz and Aperol, Select or Bitter.

What to eat