9 Foods You’ll Absolutely Fall In Love With In Venice

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll already know I absolutely LOVE Venice!

In Burano this summer with one of my Glam Italia Tours

Venice is not only the most spectacularly beautiful city in the world, and the most unique city on earth, it is also an absolute foodie heaven.

Unfortunately most tourists who come here have no clue about the foods of Venice and end up ordering the wrong things at the wrong restaurants. My book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) goes into depth on how to choose a killer restaurant anywhere in Italy, and how to avoid dining at an overpriced, under quality tourist trap.

Today I want to tell you about 7 foods you MUST eat while in Venice.

Pastries

Venice is famous for its pastries. Which is handy when you consider the Italian breakfast is a cappuccino and a pastry. In my Venice book I tell you about specific places to go for a coffee and a pastry, and get into more depth on some of the really famous pastries of Venice. If you see frittelle (pictured below)in a pastry shop window you must try them. These are traditionally available during carnevale, but sometimes you can find them during the year as well.

Frittelle in Venice. Image via VeryEatalian

Venetian/Italian croissants come plain, whole wheat, or filled with jam, Nutella, cream or my favorite, pistachio cream. Most of my days in Venice start in beautiful Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo at Rosa Salva, with a cappuccino and a pistachio croissant.

Tremezzini

You will find these triangular crustless sandwiches all over Italy, but in most places I avoid them. Typically there are about 1000 other things in any eatery that are more appetizing than tremezzini. In Venice however, all of that changes.

Tremezzini at Rosa Salva in Venice

The food pairings of Venetian tremezzini are out of this world, even when they don’t necessarily sound exciting. The one in the photo above is asparagus and egg, which sounds meh, but is actually fantastic.

I get tremezzini at Rosa Salva all the time. The waiters know which are my favorites but also come over to tell me about something fantastic that’s on the menu that day. They recently had a porchetta and eggplant tremezzini that was to die for.

Breakfast at Rosa Salva, this time the porchetta and melanzane tremezzini.
It doesn’t look like much, but lord it was fabulous!

But trust me on this one – try tremezzini in Venice and you will be hooked! (Just don’t get them elsewhere around Italy.)

Related Post: 5 Ways To escape The Crowds In Venice

Cicchetti

I always recommend you bookend your Italian days with a killer coffee in the morning and an outstanding aperitivo at the end of the afternoon. Venice takes this a step further with their finger food snack culture, the incredible cicchetti.

Cicchetti at a foodie walking tour in Cannaregio

These delicacies are once again food pairings specific to Venice and designed to be enjoyed with an ombra of local wine from the Veneto. An ombra is a shadow of wine – I tell you the full story about it in my Venice book. I take all my Glam Italia Tour groups on a cicchetti walking tour with a foodie guide, so the photos here are from guided walks where we split items on the plate. 

Another cicchetti assortment on a cicchetti walking tour

Normally you would order 2 or 3 pieces of cicchetti (at about €1,50 each) and an ombra of wine for €2 or €3. Cicchetti are available most of the day and all evening, so they can be a very inexpensive snack, late lunch, or sometimes I’ll even have cicchetti for dinner. It’s fabulous!

Sard in Saor

This is a traditional Venetian dish that you may find in cicchetti bars and also on regular menus as a starter.

Sard in Saor on polenta with a balsamic reduction.

There are variations on the recipe, some featuring raisins and pine nuts, some served alone, others of slices of polenta. But at its core local sardines are floored and fried, layered with caramelized onions and pickled in vinegar. It can be an acquired taste and not everyone will love them (I love them!) but you must at least try them once while you’re here.

Octopus and Moeche

Octopus

My favorite dish in Venice is octopus on a bed of whipped potato, at Jonny’s.

Baked Octopus at Jonny’s in Castello

In the U.S. octopus generally resembles chewing on an old bicycle tire, but with less flavor. Not so in Venice! (Or anywhere in Italy) Here octopus is delicious and prepared to perfection. My tour group travelers tend to fall in love with it too – even those who cringe at the though of eating octopus! The texture is sensational, the flavor is amazing, and it’s hard to only order it one time.

Moeche

Moeche in Burano

This one is seasonal but if you’re in Venice when they’re on the menu you must try the local soft-shell crab. It too doesn’t taste like any other soft shell crab you’ve ever tried, no doubt because of the parts of the lagoon they’ve grown in, and the way Venetians prepare them. They tend to be expensive but are so worth it.

Related Post: 10 Fabulous Books Set In Venice

Seafood Pasta

Seafood pasta in Venice

Venice is of course the city on the water, in a lagoon separated from the Adriatic Sea by a series of long, thin barrier islands. That means seafood is king here. Everywhere you go there are amazing fish options on the menu. You can’t come to Venice and not have seafood pasta at least once!

Nero di seppia

One of the most famous pasta (and risotto) dishes in Venice is al Nero di Seppia, made from black squid or cuttlefish ink. It tastes delicious but does color your teeth and lips black while you’re eating it.

Risotto

Unlike much of Italy, pasta is not the main carbohydrate here. It is definitely on every menu but so is rice (risotto) and polenta.

Seafood risotto in Venice

Even if you don’t like risotto at home you must give it a try here in Venice, at a real Venetian eatery, not a tourist joint. Here in Venice risotto is cooked to perfection. Whether you opt for the delicate Go risotto in Burano or a seafood risotto (my favorite) or even a simple mushroom risotto, it just doesn’t get creamier, more perfect, more delicious than in Venice.

Gelato

Fig and Ricotta flavored gelato at La Mela Verde in Castello

You just cannot beat the perfect cup or cone of gelato in Italy. In all of my books I talk about why you should only ever eat artisan gelato. This is gelato made by hand using local, seasonal ingredients instead of mass made chemical laden ice cream found in the tourist shops. Just a heads up: Italians wouldn’t be caught dead eating the color added, chemical added fake stuff.

Related Post: How To Find The Best Gelato In Italy

Real, artisan gelato is out of this world, and Venice has multiple artisan gelato shops spread out all over the city. Typically they will only offer a handful of flavors each day, based on what is in season. When you buy a gelato at one of these shops you not only support the owner and the staff who made the gelato by hand, but also the local fruit growers and the local milk producers in the Veneto.

The gelato in the picture above was fig and ricotta

Everything You Need To Know About Venice

My newest book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Venice gives you an insider’s perspective on amazing things to see, do and eat in Venice. I take you away from the tourist crowds and into the Venice you’ve been dreaming of. I also point out loads of details you won’t find in any regular tourist guide book, details that will make you fall in love with this spectacular city. This book is available worldwide on Amazon.

Do you belong to the newsletter? Each month I send out insider info on secret places in Italy, places you may not have heard about before but will definitely want to know about and/or visit! You can join the newsletter here

What To Pack For Italy – Must Have Items And Top Packing Tips

I just got back from Italy. I was on a two week long work trip, and was one of the lucky ones to fly in a week after the country opened to travelers after the covid tourism shut down. Italy was as incredible as ever, possibly even more so than usual because there were almost no tourists there.

Enjoying a very empty Venice

The day after I got home I was super lucky to be a guest on my favorite Untold Italy podcast, this time to talk about what to pack for your trip to Italy. It is a really comprehensive episode and we really get into the weeds and address all the questions Katy gets daily on the Italy Travel Planning Facebook page. I get DMs with these same questions on my Corinna Cooke Author facebook page and we also hear the same concerns in the Untold Italy Insiders private members group. So I think it’s fair to say most people have the same concerns when it comes to choosing what to bring to Italy and how to pack! The episode is fantastic and I am sure you will find it really helpful. You can listen to the episode here.

Rather than rehash everything I talk about on the podcast I wanted to give you some links to the game changing products I talk about. Some of these are affiliate links, others aren’t. All the products that are available on Amazon are also linked on my Amazon page: Amazon.com/Shop/CorinnaTravels. I update the Amazon shop page as I discover new travel items and also when things I like become available on Amazon. I don’t know about you but I prefer to be able to get everything in one place.

Luggage

These are the Away Luggage bags I talk about in the episode. Apologies for the blurry photo!

In the episode I talk about the luggage I have been using for years now. I have the Away Medium suitcase, in Sand. My case is really beaten up now because it has been used so much. In my normal pre-pandemic life I was spending several months each year in Europe, bouncing home to New Zealand whenever I could get down there (nowhere near often enough) and flying back and forth across the U.S multiple times per year on makeup jobs. That poor suitcase has been really overworked, yet still other than the cosmetic scrapes I’ve not gotten around to cleaning, is in excellent condition. It has four 360 degree wheels (essential) and is ergonomically designed so that it puts the least amount of stress on your back. It is incredibly sturdy yet is also lightweight.

The Everywhere Bag from Away.

I also talk about the new carry-on bag I bought from Away prior to ths last trip. In the episode I couldn’t remember its name, but it is called The Everywhere Bag. When it first arrived I wasn’t particularly impressed and thought about returning it, but I am so glad I didn’t! This bag is an MVP. It’s small but you can fit so much into it! My carry-on always has 3 changes of clothes (in case my suitcase doesn’t arrive when I do) as well as all my electronics, my camera, phone chargers, adaptors and all the other nonsense I like to have with me on the plane.

Jam packed but still not heavy. It also fits under the seat in front if needed.

I bought the nylon version of the Everywhere bag in the matching sand color to my regular suitcase. I had signed up for Away’s emails so was notified when they had a sale. This bag is normally $165 but I bought it on sale for $115. It has lots of convenient internal and external pockets, has a sleeve that slips over your suitcase handle and also has a hidden compartment underneath where you an stash a travel umbrella.

Using the Everywhere Bag as a camera bag in Bassano del Grappa. I’m wearing the Eddie Bauer Departure Pants and these Adidas sneakers. Both were indispensible travel companions.

I ended up also using this as a camera bag when we went on day trips too, because it’s really strong and sturdy but also very lightweight, much lighter than my normal tote bag.

There is another bag I forgot to mention on the podcast and that is the Paravel Fold Up Duffel. This bag zips into itself and packs down to the size on an iPad. It is great to throw in your suitcase in case you need an extra bag to bring your shopping home. I have it in navy, which I couldn’t photograph well, so am using this Google image. Had it been available in red when I bought mine, I would have chosen that! But that second image with the bag? That’s how small it zips down to! You could either bring it onboard as a carry on, or if you were going to check it as a second bag, I would only put clothing in it, as it is nylon, so breakables will break. This makes a fantastic Christmas present for any travelers. in your life!

How cool is this?? I just wish I had the red one.

Laundry

In the episode Katy told me about travel laundry detergent sheets. I can’t believe I didn’t already know about these?? Anyway I got right on Amazon and ordered these Travelon Laundry Detergent sheets. I chose Travelon from all the brands available because I’ve bought tons of Travelon travel gadgets over the years and have always been happy with them. Also these come in a small package, ideal for travel.

I also talked about bringing a travel sized wrinkle release product. I normally use Downy, mostly because I like the smell, but there are lots of really good brands. These are a life saver, especially if there isn’t an iron where you’re staying. I just spritz the clothing item, shake it out and let it hang, ideally overnight if there is time. Over the years I’ve done plenty of high speed de-wrinkling though too.

Clothing

For most of us this is the hardest thing to figure out. My three most important tips here are to choose travel friendly fabrics, pack separates to mix and match and plan on wearing each item at least twice. I try to wear each at least 3 times, but I tend to be away longer than most people. My next trip has me away for 2 full months, so everything needs to be really well thought out and will get worn over and over.

Icebreaker Merino wool base layer. Perfect for year round travel.

I talk about merino wool in the podcast. If you are like me wool itches against your skin. Merino doesn’t – it is the absolute magic travel fabric! It is as lightweight as a longsleeve t-shirt and might even take up less space in your suitcase because of the way it packs. I get the 175 weight, which temperature regulates from about -20 degrees F to +75 degrees F. It is perfect for flying as it keeps you warm but doesn’t overheat. It is also great to have in your suitcase if the weather suddenly turns cold. You don’t have to have a heavy chunky sweater to stay warm. Merino also wicks away moisture if you perspire and it has an anti-stinky property that stops it getting smelly if you wear it several days running. In the winter I travel with a merino dress, a merino tshirt and a merino cami. It really does become indispensible. You can see more merino products here.

Another great find is the Eddie Bauer Departure pants. I have them in black and in olive. They’re made from a man made travel fabric that is lightweight, doesn’t crease, and packs dpwn tp nothing. In a pinch you can wash them in the bathroom sink, hany them out and thy’ll be dry and wrinkle free in the morning. These are great staples for any traveler’s wardrobe. Athleta makes a line of pants from a similar fabric too.

I also talk about compression socks and hose. These stop fluids from pooling in your feet and ankles when you fly and have been shown to be instrumental in preventing DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). They apply graduating pressure from your feet working upward, which keeps blood and fluids moving. You can read more about Deep Vein Thrombosis and flying here.

Shoes

On the podcast I talk about having a good, lower back supporting sneaker that can still look chic. This past trip I worse this sneaker by Adidas. Not only was it a super comfortable shoe but it also held its shape and looked good with skirts, dresses and pants. I like this two toned shoe by Reebok as well, especially with the olive departure pant. I also talk about sandal I’ve been wering for a few years now called the Mirabella by Sofft. I keep track of the number of steps I do each day and have calculated that I walk 315 miles in each pair of Mirabellas before I replace them! They have great support and the leather is super soft so doesn’t really require breaking in. I swear by them.

Beach Towel

You can’t guarantee your hotel or vacation rental will have beach towels for you, and who wants to travel with something as bulky and heavy as a towel? I normally pack one of these Turkish beach towels when I travel. They’re lightweight and dry you quickly. You can double them up as a scarf or a sarong or any one of a bunch of things, so they are really handy to have with you. Also if you wind up staying somewhere where they only give you one towel (trust me it happens) you’ll be glad you had it with you.

Tech Stuff and Electronics

I always travel with an external phone battery like this one from Mophie. Lots of companies make them and they com at a variety of price points. Make sure you buy one with at least 10,000 mAh so you can fully charge a phone and a tablet from completely dead. Should you get stranded somewhere you’ll be glad you did.

You also need an international power adaptor like this one. It’s not enough to just have an Italian plug fitting, you need to convert their voltage so you don’t fry your hair dryer or curling iron the minute you plug it in. Most of them have several USB ports too, so you can charge phones and tablets while also charging your mophie.

Nano Titanium Travel Hairdryer. This is the best travel dryer I have ever had.

Another MVP for travel is this tiny travel hair dryer. It is at full professional strength, so even someone with as much hair as I have can blow it out effectively and quickly. PLus it has the whole Nano ionic titanium technology that helps blow your hair out smooth. It’s genius.

You can see how tiny the hairdryer is here.

On my Amazon page (Amazon.com/shop/CorinnaTravels) you can fin everything else I talked about on the podcast, plus more bits and pieces I swear by for trips to Italy. The page is broken up by category to make it easy to find everything you’re looking for.

If you want more insider information about planning your trip to Italy and secret places most travelers don’t even know about (even inside the big cities!) be sure to join my newsletter. Twice each month you’ll get the secrets in your inbox. You can also check out my website here: CorinnaCooke.com

Don’t forget to listen to the Untold Italy Packing For Italy podcast episode here.

10 Things You Need To Know Before Traveling To Italy

We don’t yet know for sure when we will be able to travel to Italy again, hopefully it will be later this summer. Regardless of when we can go, whether it will be your first time or a return trip, the following 10 things are really important to keep in mind. In fact you can file them under things you wish you knew before you went to Italy!

10 Things You’ll Wish You Knew Before You Traveled To Italy

Milleluci, Colle Val d’Elsa, Tuscany

Pack Light

It took me a while to get on board with this but you really do need to pack light. I advise my travelers to pack half of what they think they need.

Most travelers will have to get their suitcases on and off trains, lift them onto train or ferry luggage racks, carry them across cobblestoned streets (notorious for breaking suitcase wheels) and sometimes up multiple flights of stairs. Your hotel or accommodation may have an elevator, but that doesn’t mean it will be working. Many train stations don’t have escalators or elevators so you can find yourself carrying heavy suitcases down one flight of stairs and up another if you are changing trains. Trust me, it’s a nightmare.

Cars are smaller over there so taxis and rental cars may not fit excess or large luggage.

Also shopping in Italy is fantastic. You will want space in your suitcase to bring things home. (Checking a second suitcase should you need to buy one while there will cost you an additional 100 euros)

image via cntraveler.com

Plan Your Outfits

Don’t pack any just-in-case items. Plan your outfits ahead of time. Separates give you the most options, with the ideal 4 tops for one skirt or pair of pants. Pack easy to wear, easily packable items. Sundresses and travel dresses are ideal, with a light jacket or sweater in case it gets cold.

I normally get my travelers to plan an outfit for each day. This makes the process so much easier and really helps to condense your packing.

At the moment post-pandemic there is talk of the airlines not supplying blankets and pillows inflight. I always travel with a large pashmina/shawl that can double up as a blanket. My best travel tip for flying is to wear a long sleeve merino base layer. See here and here and here This lightweight fabric is super warm but regulates temperature to keep you comfortable from sub-zero temperatures to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It also wicks away moisture, so you won’t get sweaty or smelly.

Bring Good Walking Shoes

Italy is all walking, much of it up and down hills, most of it on uneven or cobbled streets. My average day in Italy involves walking between 8 and 10 miles, and I’ve had plenty of days when we’ve walked double that.

Really good, supportive walking shoes are essential.

RELATED POST: THE BEST SHOES TO WEAR IN EUROPE

The Sofft Mirabelle has been my go to sandal for Italy for several years.

I recommend one stylish pair of athletic shoes (well, as stylish as possible – try to avoid the big, clunky, ugly ones) and one pair of sandals. I typically wear the Mirabelle by Sofft see here as they don’t need any breaking in time and can take a beating. My last pair did over 300 miles of walking in Italy and are still going strong, although I have since replaced them with a new pair.

Always break in and sneakers/athletic shoes before coming, and I suggest putting insoles in as well see here.

Ideally only bring only 2 pairs of shoes, and plan your outfits around them. Leave high heels, wedges and platforms at home – the chances of you braking or spraining an ankle in them are huge.

Bring Currency

Any time you are traveling to a country with a different currency you should bring some of that currency with you. Airports normally have ATM machines but they may be out of cash and definitely will have the worst exchange rate.

Order a small amount of foreign currency from your bank prior to leaving for Italy. I recommend bringing 100 euros cash, in small denominations. Many vendors will not have change for a larger bill and may not want to risk accepting a counterfeit bill. Your best bet is to bring an assortment of cash in 20 euro notes and smaller.

Arriving in Naples, June 2019

Use The Trains

The train system in Italy is fantastic. It is really efficient and very affordable. I advise taking the train across country rather than flying. On the rare occasions that I fly internally there are invariably flight delays and it would have taken just as long by train!

RELATED POST: HOW TO USE THE TRAINS IN ITALY

I recommend buying tickets for the high speed train online ahead of time. Tickets typically go on sale around 3-4 months prior to departure with the prices going up as you get closer to the date.

Intercity and regional train tickets can be purchased at the station the day of travel.

Plan Your Airport Transfers

Plan your transport from the airport ahead of time. Especially if this is your first trip to Italy you can be exhausted after the long flight and find the arrival overwhelming.

If flying into Venice you will need to pre-book passage from the airport to the city on the Alilaguna boat see here. If flying into any other major city either plan for a private driver transfer (recommended) or a taxi. Your accommodation will be able to advise you on car companies and taxi fares.

If flying into Florence or Pisa see this post, if flying into Rome see this post.

Never accept a ride from a driver soliciting business inside the airport. Taxis are required to come through the taxi stand outside the arrivals terminal. They all have the correct insignia for that particular city and will have fares posted. There is always a set fare from the airport into the city.

Eat Regionally

In Italy food is regional. Each region has its own specialties, and other than at tourist restaurants you won’t find American Italian items on the menu. Rather than trying to order pizza and lasagna everywhere you go, order the food from that area. My best seller Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy breaks down what foods to order in each region as well as which wines to order by region.

Fattoria la Tagliata, Positano

It also gives you expert advice on how to choose a restaurant, how to order coffee, what to do if you get sick, how to get your sales tax back – loads of essential information for travelers. It is available worldwide on Amazon.com

Learn A Little Italian

Over the years Aldo and his wife Lidia have become dear friends of mine.
Capri 2019

Before you travel learn some basic things to say in Italian. Things like hello and goodbye, please and thank you, and a few other easy bits and pieces. Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy also has a section on basic phrases and how to say them.

Slow Down!

Don’t pack your itinerary with too many things. Plan to see fewer things in fewer cities. Don’t waste time standing in line for hours to see the major attractions. Pick one or two per city and then spend the rest of your time seeing the places the tour buses don’t go.

Long lunches with a view.
Montalcino, Tuscany

St Peter’s in Rome is great, but there are no end of other churches just as fantastic with no line to get inside. The Duomo is Florence is ok inside but there are so many staggeringly fantastic churches in the historic center of town that you can walk right into. St Mark’s Basilica in Venice is incredible and is worth waiting in line for.

Every city in Italy has vastly more to offer than just the main attractions. Spend your time wandering and exploring these lesser known sites, stop for a coffee or a gelato, enjoy a long lunch somewhere with a lovely view.

Even in the busiest cities you can find places to chill out and just wander.
Rome 2019

My second book, Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome is also an international best seller. It gives you more than 101 incredible things to see and do in Rome, all within walking distance of the big attractions, and most with very few tourists. I have a new book coming out soon with 101 Fabulous Things To Do in another famous Italian city. To get a heads up on it and when it’s coming out join my Private Member Newsletter here. You can unsubscribe at any time.

10. Buy Artisanal

Sandal maker, Positano

Whether you are buying a gelato or whether you are buying souvenirs, or anything (and everything) in between, don’t buy from the high street shops, buy from the artisans. This post explains why you must only ever buy artisan gelato. Don’t worry, there are artisan shops everywhere and they cost the same.

Gelateria del Teatro, Rome

RELATED POST: WHY YOU SHOULD ONLY BUY ARTISANAL GELATO IN ITALY!

Buying from artisan boutiques, shops, workshops and markets helps keep the trades Italy is famous for alive for more generations. From shoe shops to leather bags to clothing, jewelry and crafts – everything you can think of, it’s all available in cheap Made in China imitations, or as the real deal. Don’t support the made-for-tourists merchandise, support the true Italian merchandise. It is all very easy to find and centrally located.

This artisan weaver makes exquisite scarves in Colle Val d’Elsa. She took time to show us how she sets the loom and makes her beautiful designs. We all bought gits here.

Check blogs, ask google and ask your landlord or hotel where you can buy artisanal products. They will be happy to guide you!

Did you find this post helpful? My Private Members Newsletter comes out twice each month and is full of great information for anyone planning a trip to Italy, now or in the future. You can join the group for free here.

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10 things you need to know before you travel to Italy