One of the best ways to explore Venice as a local, tasting the savory Venetian cicheti (appetisers, in italian "cicchetti") accompanied by the typical ombra di vino (glass of wine), is to have fun going from bacaro to bacaro (a typical Venetian tavern) with your friends, and it is not even expensive at all. The bacaro tour is an alternative and fun way to enjoy the city as a real Venetian.
The Bacaro Tour: discovering the bacari
First of all, what it is a bacaro? To define it simply as a tavern would be somewhat reductive. A bacaro is a typical Venetian tavern, small in size, characterised by simple and rustic furniture, mainly made of wood, where you can enjoy glasses of wine, ombre in Venetian, or of spritz, accompanied by typical Venetian cicheti, that are small snacks of food ranging from fish balls to small stuffed sandwiches. All cicheti are usually displayed in a glass case near the bar. But what certainly characterises a typical Venetian bacaro is the cosy and familiar atmosphere, the friendliness of the host and the presence of many Venetians that are taking a relaxing break.
The Bacaro Tour: what do you eat and drink in a bacaro?
Going from bacaro to bacaro certainly means drinking good wine and tasting real delicacies. As it is well known, Veneto is one of the best known Italian regions for the production of its fine wines, and for this reason in Venice you can certainly find excellent wines, even in the bacari, where they usually serve cheaper wines but still DOC (controlled designation of origin) wines. Among the red wines you can find Raboso, Cabernet, Merlot and Bardolino, whereas among the white wines Prosecco, Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla, Soave and Traminer. It is also possible to taste the authentic spritz, a typical Venetian aperitif, made with Prosecco, Aperol or Campari (or both in the case of the spritz misto, mixed), sparkling water or Seltz, a slice of orange and to put the finishing touches the olive.
Concerning the cicheti, each bacaro offers its own options, so at each stage of your tour you can taste different specialities of the Venetian cuisine, but among the most common ones you can find the sarde in saor (fried fresh sardine fillets marinated in softly cooked white onions), baccalà mantecato (whipped salted cod served on slices of bread or polenta), meatballs, mozzarelle in carrozza (fried mozzarella cheese sandwiches), fried fish, tramezzini (triangular Italian sandwich constructed from two slices of soft white bread, with the crusts removed) and sandwiches stuffed with cured meats.
The Bacaro tour: what it is and where you can do it
The Bacaro Tour is the custom of going from bacaro to bacaro, around the sestieri (districts) of Venice, to enjoy a few glasses of wine or spritz with your friends. Instead of sitting at the same bar for a long time, Venetians prefer performing this itinerant ritual. There is no exact time to go on a bacaro tour, but lunchtime and aperitif time are certainly the two most popular moments of the day. Tourists usually eat a real meal in the bacari, ordering trays of cicheti, but by doing so they miss the true essence of the bacaro tour.
For those arriving by train at the Santa Lucia station, the first area from where they can begin their tour is the sestiere (district) of Cannaregio, in particular along the Fondamenta (a street parallel to a canal) dei Ormesini, an area full of bacari. For those arriving instead by car or by bus, you cannot miss the Santa Croce district, an area with well-known bacari, frequented also by young people, especially university students. Another must-go area during your bacaro tour is the sestiere that includes the famous Campo (square) Santa Margherita, that is Dorsoduro. A final district that deserves to be mentioned is the Castello district, the least tourist area in Venice and therefore full of bacari frequented by locals.
As previously mentioned, the bacaro tour is not expensive at all, the price of a glass of wine ranges from 0.60 cents to 2 euros maximum, while the price of a cicheto ranges from 1 to 3 euros. Those who have not yet had the chance to visit Venice will certainly not miss the opportunity to go on a bacaro tour on their first visit, and for those who have already visited it this will certainly be an opportunity to experience the city in a new way.