Eating cicchetti in Venice is a great chance to immerse yourself in the local Italian culture.
Venice is one of the most visually engaging places in Italy. A location filled with historical buildings, boats, canals, and food.
It is also a place to enjoy a unique snack called cicchetti.
You may wonder what cichetti is, where to get some, and how to eat it while in Venice.
I wondered that very same thing on my first trip to Venice. My first introduction was through a tour, which I loved! But if a tour isn’t your thing seeking out cicchetti on your own is perfectly doable.
With so many options on what and where to eat cicchetti in Venice, this article will show you everything you need to know before heading out on your next Venetian adventure.
Keep reading for practical advice on how to eat cicchetti in Venice, to some of the best places to find it, while you explore this incredible UNESCO World Heritage city.
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No time to read but want to experience cicchetti while in Venice?
Check out this Evening Cicchetti Tour for a fun time.
How do you Pronounce Cicchetti?
Pronounced “CHA- KETTY”, by the way.
In Italian, cicchetti means “little bites” or “sips”.
What Are Cicchetti?
Cicchetti are savory snacks popularly enjoyed in Venice’s bars and small restaurants called bacari.
They are very much a part of traditional Venetian culture and can be found all over the city.
One popular Italian saying states: ‘If you want to become an Italian, eat cicchetti every day!’
They can be small sandwiches or crostini topped with meat, cheeses, seafood, or marinated vegetables.
How to Eat Cicchetti
Cicchetti is a snack that is typically eaten in Venice with friends or family. Eating cicchetti in Venice is a social activity that brings the community together much in the way that eating tapas connects Spaniards.
The easiest way to learn what to do is to watch what others are doing, and then jump right in.
If you don’t speak Italian or this is your first time traveling abroad and you are feeling intimidated, than a tour may be what you need to get an overview and feel comfortable.
Take a Cicchetti Tour
My husband and I did exactly that on our first visit, and it was a great way to get to learn the fascinating culture of the community.
To say nothing of the great food and wine we tasted. Our guide was a gifted storyteller.
She gave us great insight to the food culture in Venice and took us just off the beaten path to taste some delicious snacks. We never would have found these spots on our own.
I recommend taking a tour if you want to feel more comfortable striking out on your own later or to get help finding those out of the way, less crowded spots.
Check availability for this highly-rated cichetti tour here.
Eating Cicchetti in Venice on Your Own
For the best experience, when venturing on your own, be sure to head to a local bacaro.
The bacari, the Italian word for wine bars or taverns, are typically small shops with counters displaying the platters of food available each day.
People stand around with small plates at the bar area or just outside in the streets around small tables or barrels.
The social aspect of going out for cicchetti -or andar per bacari– going to the wine bar, is just as important as the food itself. Meeting up and sharing is very much a part of the experience.
The chichetti themselves are usually just a bite or two and coupled with a small glass of wine referred to as ombra.
Red wine, white wine, or prosecco are all choices you may select to pair with your food.
When you walk in you will typically see a blackboard listing what is available on tap.
As for ordering food, just walk up to the counter and point to what you like.
Most of the dishes will be ones you eat with your hands. They have a very informal feel to them.
An excellent time to partake would be late morning as a snack before lunch or in the early evening before dinner.
Make sure you pace yourself when eating cicchetti as they are generally quite filling and they can easily become a meal unto themselves.
Plan to bring cash with you since many of the small local bacaris do not take cards.
One of the additional pleasures of cicchetti is the price. Both the snack and the drink typically cost only a couple of euros each.
Popular Types of Cicchetti to find in Venice
Types of cicchetti vary according to the chef and the local ingredients available. Each chef and establishment will have its own style and specialty.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and explore unfamiliar flavors.
Cicchetti may be small, but they pack a flavorful punch. Take your time, savor each bite, and appreciate the unique combinations of ingredients.
Given its unique location surrounded by water, Venice boasts an abundant selection of seafood cicchetti.
Grilled squid, mussels, and shrimp prepared with local herbs and spices provide a taste of the sea.
Assorted crostini of delicious locally baked bread covered with marinated fish such as herring, sardines, or anchovies with hard-boiled eggs.
You may find creamy cod over polenta or artichokes.
Croquettes filled with ingredients like potato, cheese, cod, or beef are crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside.
Where Can I Find Cicchetti in Venice
Venice is dotted with bacari, each with its own unique charm and culinary offerings.
While Rialto and San Polo districts are popular choices, don’t limit yourself to these areas alone. Venture into lesser-known neighborhoods like Cannaregio and Dorsoduro, where hidden gems await.
Exploring different neighborhoods allows you to discover bacari cherished by locals, where you can indulge in authentic cicchetti experiences away from the crowds.
When traveling with a large group of people, it may be best to try finding a restaurant that offers platters.
Most are the taverns are quite small and it is standing-room only, but that is part of the fun!
Some of the places we tried on our trip to Venice:
Bar All’ Arco- S. Polo, 436, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
Just a 3-minute walk from the Rialto bridge. The gorgeous platter of crostini in the photo came from there. These are some of the best cicchetti in Venice we ate.
Cantina Do Mori– Calle Do Mori, 429, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
One of the oldest bacaros in Venice dating back to the 1400s. Charming and lively atmosphere. Decorated with copper pots hanging from the ceiling
Now head to Venice!
Once you have found your favorite bacaro it is time to order up and take a bite.
Sharing cicchetti is a tradition that has been deeply rooted in Venetian culture for centuries.
While it can seem intimidating at first, eating cicchetti is a true cultural experience that should not be missed!
Do not stop exploring Italy with just Venice. Head over to unforgettable Florence to experience all the cool and different things Firenze has to offer.
Are you ready to embark on your next Italian adventure? Make sure to pack your bags and start planning your itinerary with these helpful tips while visiting Italy.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The best time of day to eat cicchetti is as a snack before lunch or during the early evening at around 6 PM, just before dinner.
Embrace the tradition and savor them with your hands. The informal touch adds to the charm of the cicchetti experience.
There are many types of drinks to enjoy with cicchetti. While wine is a classic pairing, you can also enjoy cicchetti with other drinks like spritz, beer, or even soft drinks.
Cichetti are usually quite affordable, with prices ranging from 2 to 3 euros each.
Generally, cicchetti are meant to be enjoyed on the spot, fostering a sense of community among locals and visitors alike. However, some bars might allow take-away orders, especially for tourists.
While some cicchetti can be gluten-free, many are made with bread or flour-based ingredients. It’s best to inquire with the bartender about gluten-free options to ensure a safe experience.
Many cicchetti bars are small, family-owned establishments that accept cash payments only. Bring euros with you to ensure you don’t miss out.
CNN, Cat Bauer. “The Delicious Snack You Can Only Find in Venice.” CNN, https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/venice-cicchetti-bars/index.html. Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.
“Crawling Through Venice’s Cicchetti Pubs.” Rick Steves, https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/venice-cicchetti-crawl. Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.
Ferrari, Eliana. “The Essential Guide to Cicchetti in Venice.” Devour Tours, 19 Aug. 2022, https://devourtours.com/blog/cicchetti-in-venice/dev.devourtours.com/blog/cicchetti-in-venice/.
Raichlen, Steven. “When in Venice, Eat Like a Venetian.” The New York Times, 27 Feb. 2019. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/travel/venice-cicchetti-small-plates.html.