Venice, Italy. What could be more fun than to go to one of the most famous cities in the world, soak in its culture, and enjoy the fabulous food? For us, that included taking a food tour while there.
Venice Bites Food Tour was the perfect tour to take to get a feel for the city when we first arrived. Taking the tour early allowed us to really know an area and be able to go back later during our stay to some of the restaurants to truly enjoy them. Venice Bites is run by a couple who are originally from California but now live full time in Venice. Our food tour was late afternoon/early evening so we were able to experience Venice when it takes on a more intimate atmosphere. Maya and Adam work the tour together and you can tell they truly enjoy what they do. Our tour was called “A Progressive Dinner Through Cannaregio” and is in an area where the true Venetians live, work and eat and is not part of the more touristy areas. The neighborhood, bars and cafes serve cicchetti, which are small plates of Venetian specialties, along with wine. It was such fun as all the locals are in these places including the gondola guys (gondoliers) in their striped shirts and straw hats hanging around after a day’s work.
Our tour was fully booked and most of the folks on the tour were from the U.S. It was great that Maya and Adam, who are fluent in Italian, were also from the States as they knew how to approach the tour through our eyes and tastes and were able to tip us off to various customs that a native might not. One such custom was to plan on eating dinner much later than we would here in the States and to tell your wait person when to you’re ready for the check. The staff will allow customers to sit for as long as they choose and will never rush them out in order to turn over tables. The check will only be brought on request. A very civilized custom.
The food, from artichoke hearts and shrimp to risotto was as delectable and varied as the red wine, called fresh wine, which was served chilled and was greatly refreshing (as they have no vineyards or cellars on the island, the wine is not aged and must be refrigerated). We noticed gelato stands on every corner — Italians love their gelato! — so of course, a sample of it was available on the tour and we were able to pick our own flavor. Our last stop was to sample a glass of spritz. Adam and Maya shared that the spritz is the favorite cocktail of Venezia. They also shared how it is made (basically, Campari or Aperol with prosecco or another sparkling wine and soda served in a glass with ice with a slice of orange) and what time of day it is normally ordered.
We learned a lot about customs and fun places to stop so we felt very comfortable exploring during the rest of our stay. All in all we would highly recommend Venice Bites Food Tour when you find yourself in the magical city of Venice.