Finding the Best Cicchetti in Venice on a Food Walking Tour

Those who know me well will attest to the fact that I am not a fussy eater. I don’t eat beef, I have never warmed to mushrooms and do not even get me started on Marmite! Beyond this though, I am fairly flexible and usually comfortably settle into the gastronomic backdrop of destinations and restaurants without much ado. That’s not to say that I don’t have my favourites though, which include South East Asian, Middle Eastern and from my most recent travels, Italian cuisine.

anchovy bread Cicchetti

As we boarded our flight to Italy in June, I was already sniffing out the aroma of Tuscan truffles, yearning to locate the chocolate chips cocooned inside Sicilian cannoli and seeking out the velvety feel of a grandmother’s flawless gnocchi. In Venice though, I had no idea about local specialties. What were the hallmarks of Venetian cuisine and were there any foodie experiences I must not miss in this canal-laden city? canal views Venice tourpigeon Rialto Venice

In the preceding days, we had taken a city walking tour of Florence with Walks of Italy. When they discovered that I was continuing my Italian dream in Venice, they got in touch to suggest we join them in uncovering the best Cicchetti in Venice on a Venetian Cicchetti and wine walking tour.

truffle cheese ham sandwich Walks of Italy Venice tour

Regular readers (hi Mum and Dad!) will know from the food tours I took in Ljubljana, Marrakech and here in London, that I have loved this way of experiencing a city and given that neither Pumpkin nor myself had any idea what Cicchetti actually meant, we figured it would offer us a much needed education.

Walks of Italy food cicchetti tour guide

The Walks of Italy Cicchetti and Wine Food Tour

We met our gregarious guide Moses and our small group of ravenous revellers began a culinary expedition through the back streets of Venice, primarily situated around the Rialto district, home to the eponymous Rialto Bridge, which sadly did not quite live up to my expectations as one half of the bridge was being refurbished, making it difficult to appreciate fully.

Rialto Bridge Venice Food Tour

Along the way, as well as sampling generous portions of the Venetian fare, we were given an insight into the history of the area, the little architectural details as well as the food culture.

Walks of Italy food wine cicchetti tour

Cicchetti comprise small, snack-like, individual portions of food, different to a plate of tapas or mezze for example, which are intended to be shared.

Cicchetti food tour Venice

However, the social aspect still very much underlies Cicchetti, as groups of friends or colleagues may nip out mid morning or during the day and pop into a Bacari (a place to have fun with friends) for a glass of wine with Cicchetti.

And in case you are wondering, it is pronounced “Chick-et-ee.”

tour best cicchetti Venice

Wine drinking in this way is almost always accompanied by food and given that it is a city where people walk or take public transport, a glass of wine in the middle of the day isn’t just considered socially acceptable but actually a completely normal part of day to day life.

Cicchetti and Wine walking Tour Venice

As for the Cicchetti themselves, many were bread-based or battered in some way so go light on breakfast before taking this tour and as with any food tour, I would suggest anyone with specific dietary requirements makes enquiries regarding this prior to booking.

canal views Venice tour

My personal highlights included bread with ham and truffle robiola cream cheese, whipped cod served on bread and the battered, skewered seafood.

anchovy bread Cicchetti Venice

I am a teetotaler so Pumpkin was the willing recipient of my wine allocation during the tour and I would soon learn that to the Venetian people, us teetotalers are about as easy to comprehend as aliens from another galaxy. Wine is such an integral part of the culture that many children in Venice have grown up receiving lessons in wine and alcohol to allow them to embrace and understand the wine culture as there is a fear that those who do not drink alcohol may not fit in well into local society in the future. Good thing I reside in London!

Mercado pesce fish market Venice

Food Markets in Venice

After a few mouthfuls of carb-loading, we walked over to see a huge fish market, where a characteristic seafood stench lined the overarching roof and we also stopped by a more modest fresh fruit and vegetable market.

Venice fish market near Rialto

Local cuisine focuses strongly on seasonal ingredients so were told, for example, that fresh tomatoes would not normally be eaten in winters but during our visit, zucchini, asparagus and artichokes were very much flavour of the month.

fresh strawberries Venice market zucchini flowers Venice market fruit market Venice food tour

For the freshest fish purchases, locals arrive shortly after dawn for the best catch of the day.

seafood market Venice fresh fish market Venice Walks of Italy Venice Cicchetti food tour

Within minutes of meeting Moses, it was apparent that he felt very much in his element talking to us about Cicchetti and wine culture, having lived in Venice for approximately 7 years and what I particularly enjoyed about this tour was the way in which we were made to feel like locals for the morning.

Bacari fried Cicchetti Venice

We ambled in and out of some of his favourite local Bacaris with virtually no tourists inside. The Cicchetti may vary from day to day so Moses looked at what was on offer on that particular day and selected a range of different items for us to try. At some places, we sipped our drinks, perching against outdoor tables and at others, we sat inside to enjoy fresh, hot Cicchetti in more of a restaurant setting.

whipped cod Cicchetti Venice

There was a large variation in age and geographical backgrounds in our group and yet the tour was paced out in a relaxed, informal way so it felt as if we were taking a leisurely morning stroll around the city (and eating a lot in the process!)

Have you ever tried Cicchetti in Venice?

Disclaimer: We were guests of Walks of Italy during this tour but I am an opinionated little lady and all views, good or bad, are entirely my own.

39 thoughts on “Finding the Best Cicchetti in Venice on a Food Walking Tour

  1. Wow! I love Italian food (my other half is Italian, so that helps!) and those cicchetti look delicious! But seriously, how can you not love marmite! K x 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:26 pm

      Haha, sorry Keri! Guilty as charged but in the love it or hate it argument on Marmite, I’m definitely a hater! Does your other half cook you delicious Italian food then?!

  2. This looks incredible!! We can’t wait til our foodie adventures take us to Italy. We were planning a trip, but then my husband needed a new car so we had to compromise on a different trip 🙂 One question for you: how did you propose that they pay for your food and wine tour? Did you propose it to them beforehand? We’re hitting the point where we want to start doing this in places we go and would love to know how to get started! Thanks!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:31 pm

      Really hope you get to Italy soon – it’s one of my ultimate favourite destinations in Europe and the fabulous food is the icing on the cake! I had already arranged a tour with Walks of Italy in Florence and so they contacted me to invite us on this food tour in Venice but lots of brands out there are increasingly open to collaborating with bloggers so if there are brands that you feel you feel are suited to your blog that you feel you could work jointly with, nothing to stop you making enquiries. Thanks so much for reading!

  3. im not sure on cicchetti, but im ok with the wine!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:34 pm

      Hehe, we could have done some convenient swapsies on this tour then Andrew – I take your cicchetti and you take my wine!

  4. Mmm sounds delicious! We visited Venice before my blogging days so I may have to revisit purely to scout out some of this food. And I will gladly have your share of the wine Shikha 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:36 pm

      Hehe, I had a feeling you might volunteer that Ayla :mrgreen: I didn’t really know anything about the foodie scene in Venice and this was a lovely way to discover it – was quite full at the end though!

  5. Our hotel in Venice was near a cicchetti bar called Al Timon – one of my all time favourite bars from my travels. What a find – superb wine and dirt cheap snacks in an otherwise pricey city.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:39 pm

      You’re SO right about the cost side of things – we actually ate cicchetti on 2 of the 4 nights we were there and the tour was separate to that because just like you, we quickly found it was a perfect way to try multiple different items for such a varied, filling and excellent value dinner. Wish I’d tried Al Timon though as I remember someone else mentioning it to me too! Thanks so much for sharing your own Cicchetti experiences and tips here ☺

  6. Ooh yummy! I’ve just had my dinner but this post made me feel a little bit peckish. I’d have to give the wine to someone else too as I’m just not that fond but all the food, I’m sure I could cope with that. It looks like a great way to get to know a city 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:43 pm

      Haha, I’d have felt less like the odd one out on the tour if you were there then Emma as literally everyone else was having wine! I love taking food walking tours as they’re such a great way of simultaneously exploring the back streets of a city and all those fabulous underground foodie finds you’d never necessarily know about otherwise so if you like the gastronomic side of travelling, I’d highly recommend trying out food walks!

  7. What I love the most about Italian cuisine are fresh fruits and veggies being sold on local markets. I’m vegan, so most Italian dishes are not for me, but their gelato (vegan one) is amazing! MNIAM!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:45 pm

      Oh I LOVE the fresh fruit and veg stalls top Agness – such juicy sweet fruits and although I eat normal gelato (and love it!), I have heard from a few vegan bloggers how delicious the vegan gelato is out there and even though I’m not vegan, I’m very tempted to try out this dairy free version myself ☺

  8. Wow! Those Chicetti look seriously good. I hadn’t even heard of them before but we’re planning a trip to Venice in the near future so will definitely be seeking them out 🙂

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:49 pm

      I always think I know about different world foods Polly (especially in countries I’ve already been to!)and then I hear a term like Cicchetti and realise how much I still have to learn! :mrgreen: But it’s such a nice idea, these wine bar and snack social spots and we ended up having some really interesting conversation by some locals we met in one of these places in our first night in Venice when we got lost and most restaurants were closing! Even if you only try it once, make sure you and Mr Sunshine stop by one of these bars when you go!

  9. I love the sound of that truffle robiola cheese, it all looks delicious

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:51 pm

      Funnily enough Suze, apparently Robiola is basically very similar if not the same as what we know here as Philadelphia! But the Italian name sounds so much nicer doesn’t it, especially when there’s truffle in it!

  10. I love Italian food, and I would certainly help you out and drink your wine for you, I’m good like that ;). I have to ay foodie walking tours aren’t something that hugely appeal to be but when it’s delicate bites it kind of makes more sense.
    Lots of love,
    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:58 pm

      Hehe, looks like I’m getting lots of applicants for my wine allocation Angie – I’ll start up a shortlisting process! I love taking food tours (can’t believe I only went on my first one last year in fact) but they’re a great way of finding those really authentic, underground places that mainly the locals frequent that otherwise often fall completely under the radar of tourists & they usually are small bites in any case which are filling enough – I think I’d explode on a food tour with big portions!:mrgreen:

      1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2015 — 9:59 pm

        Ps no idea why on earth that says Mr green?! It was supposed to be a laughing emoji?!

  11. What a yummy post! When I went to Barcelona a few years ago we did a tapas tour and it was great. We felt like locals as we went to places that would never have been found on trip advisor. Our only mistake was we did it near the end of our stay and it would have helped us make better food choices during our week there. I haven’t been to Venice yet but I am hoping to go in February.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 7, 2015 — 8:04 am

      Yes! You are absolutely right about that tip Melissa – I completely agree that it’s worth doing a food tour during an earlier part of the trip as it definitely does help you realise those fabulous secret finds that you might want to dine in again and I too have made the mistake of doing a food tour too late in a trip to enjoy that perk! Spain is one of those countries where I think a food tour would be utterly scrumptious – when I last went to Spain, it was aeons ago and I didn’t explore the food side of it at all but I’ll be making up for lost time if I ever return! Thanks so much for sharing your own food tour experience ☺

  12. Sounds and looks delicious Shikha, although I fear as a veggie I probably would over compensate with the wine side of things 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 7, 2015 — 8:05 am

      Haha, I’d have happily traded you your ham roll for my glass of wine Rachel ☺

  13. Aren’t foodie tours simply the best way to see a city!?

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 7, 2015 — 8:08 am

      TOTALLY! I can’t believe I’d never even heard of the concept till last year. Great way of walking, exploring the city, eating as you go and I love finding such authentic hidden foodie joints that we’d never find otherwise! I’m a bit hooked!

  14. This looks so delicious, though a bit gluteny! I’ve generally found Italy pretty good for the gluten-free but if not I can totally get on board with the prosecco instead!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 7, 2015 — 8:10 am

      Haha, yes Lucy this tour was quite gluteny I must admit. I’m not gluten free myself but there was definitely a bit of a bread baby going on by the end of the tour, then again it could have just been the sheer volume of food :mrgreen: Probably a good thing I wasn’t taking any of the wine – not sure there would have been room in my belly for much more!

  15. A glass of wine in Italy during the middle of the day sounds heavenly…. as does this food tour! Your Italy posts have me dying to go back. I think it was from your posts that I got the inspiration to look up food tours here in Hawaii. I found one that called a “hole-in-the-wall food tour” and I booked it as a surprise for my husband when he graduates! I’m really excited!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 7, 2015 — 8:38 am

      Did you really? That’s so lovely to hear Carolann! A hole in the wall food tour sounds brilliant and right up my street – for me, the more authentic and underground the better because nice restaurants are so much easier to come across ourselves but it’s those small, hidden places that food tours are great for discovering! I really hope your husband enjoys it and that you’ll blog about it when the time comes so we can all see what kind of delicious treats are lurking in the corners in Hawaii! Sounds like you also loved Italy every bit as much as I did – probably one of my 2 most favourite European countries ☺

  16. I love your food tours! I never got to try cicchetti… it looks delicious though, I would love to try it sometime!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 15, 2015 — 10:21 pm

      Aww thanks so much for the kind words Allane! I’ve become such a big fan of food tours and the secret foodie hidden gems you can find on a food tour! The cicchetti was delicious – sooo filling though!!

      1. You’re welcome dear!!
        I can totally understand why, I loooove food and I think it tells a lot about a place!

  17. Ah, this makes me long for Venice and long, lazy cicchetti days! Great write-up 😀 x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 15, 2015 — 10:38 pm

      Aww thank you so much Terri! I miss those sleepy relaxed Cicchetti days too – I love London but life here is a totally different and crazy pace! And food doesn’t generally come in these cute bitesize portions that we can nibble on throughout the day! :mrgreen: Thanks so much for reading!

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