In Venice wine bars are simply not just wine bars. To the locals they are known as ‘Bacaro’. Back at home, wine bars are these swanky, overly posh and spacious area’s which I have to admit are full of that traditional pretentiousness that comes with wine drinking. On my recent trip to Venice I came across the hidden, out-of-the-way culture of Bacaro’s. These tiny little wine taverns are laid back, cozy and affordable for even those on a shoestring budget. The simple idea is that you can go and grab a glass of wine and a cicchetti (finger-food) for less than 5 Euro. The cicchetti’s depend on the bar, however the most common type we can across were small bread rolls with various fillings in; porchetta, salmon, pancetta, cheese, salad etc. Some bars had more fried foods like mozzarella sticks and others concentrated on fresh seafood. The cicchetti’s start at about 1.50 Euro while glasses of wine starts at about 2 Euro.
You are bound to come across a Bacaro somewhere when meandering through Venice. An easy way to spot them is to look for one of the following words; cicchetti, ombre, ostaria or cantina. Here are my favourite Bacaro’s – I have done my best with an address however I hate to say it but you are probably better off just wandering as it’s a mission to find any address in this waterworld. However saying that, an iPhone with google maps on will be your best weapon of combat to guide yourself through the 120 islands, 150 canals and over the 400 bridges.
1. Cantina Paguba
Extremely cozy, about 4 or 5 tables inside, but plenty outside. This Bacaro also supplies a boutique beer called Morgana for 7 Euro for a half liter. Prosecco is 2.10 Euro for a glass and red and white range from 2.50 Euro per glass going upwards.
Cannaregio 3689 – Venezia
This is a cutey. Sitting right on a bridge it is as big as a small bedroom with a few squished in tables and some standing room around the bar. They specialize in fresh seafood; alongside the cicchetti’s you can also get meals, which start, at about 10 Euro. Red and white glasses start at a mere 2 Euro.
Cannaregio 6378 – Venezia – Tel. 04/5286157
3. Enoteca Boldrin
The blue lights behind the bar put me off slightly as well as their disgusting toilets however once you get past that, the place is laid back and rather funky with wine bottles from the 70s and 80s on display as well as barrels to sit at and sip your wine. This one was also large and roomy – so if you don’t like small crowded spaces, this one is for you. However it is also the most expensive we came across in the day with glass prices starting at 3.50 Euro.
Cannaregio N.5549/50 – Venezia
4. Cantina Vecia Carbonera
This one was gorgeous, however its on the main drag in Cannaregio, so you will find some tourists lurking around inside. The tavern is simply the bar and then a long bench with a couple of mini barrels in front. Everyone greets you when you enter and you get that ‘local pub’ sort of feel, like you go there every night. Glasses start from 2 Euro and likewise with the cicchetti’s.
If you’re in Venice it’s a must to stop at one or two of these hole-in-the wall bars while you’re there. Just remember though, if you sit down you are likely to be charged 2 or 3 Euro extra just for taking a seat!