I have just returned from a super trip to Venice, and there is one particular highlight that cannot possibly go unmentioned. I had the absolute joy of being able to experience a market & cicchetti walking food tour of Venice – something that I didn’t even know existed before I was invited along! The company that runs these magnificent food tours is ‘Liv Tours’ and they operate all over Italy as well as in a few other select locations. I had such a good time that I’ve already been on the website to see where else I can do a tour!
I was part of a party of just three, and we were met outside a church near the Rialto bridge by our local guide, Elisa. We quickly got to walking towards the fish market, and Elisa started telling us all about the amazing history of the whole area immediately. She told us all kinds of facts (did you know that King Crabs are always served on a seashell in Venice?) and showed us some really fascinating points of interest.
As we started to walk away from the fish market towards our first bar stop, she taught us all about what the street names mean and the history behind them. Despite there being many open spaces that would typically be called squares, St Marc’s Square is the only place in Venice that is allowed the title of a ‘square’, so all of the others are called Campos – I found this truly fascinating!
We arrived at a tiny bar down a narrow street, and I was immediately struck by its rustic nature. Elisa asked us what our wine preference was and told us to take a pew while she got us something tasty. Before long, she returned with some delightful sparkling wine and plates of typical Venetian Cicchetti. I’ve never experienced cicchetti before, but found it to be very similar to Spanish tapas, and utterly delicious. I had mentioned that while the other two members of our little party were keen on fish, I really wasn’t, and Elisa had brought me some non-fishy nibbles to try instead. While the others enjoyed the Venetian delicacy of baccalá, I got to try artichoke bottoms! I was quite excited about this as we had seen so many men on the market cutting artichokes in a special way so they could sell the bottom bits.
After our first taste of cicchetti, we moved on to another bar where Elisa ordered us drinks on a spritz theme. She taught us all about the different kinds of spritz, and how watered-down prosecco was considered a typical refreshing drink on a hot drink, much like water! By the time we finished our drinks here (accompanied by more amazing cicchetti), I felt like a spritz expert!
The final part of our food tour was a sit down meal at a great restaurant, and to get there, we got to experience a mini gondola ride across the Grand Canal! The restaurant itself was opposite one of Venice’s magnificent churches, the location really was spectacular.
Elisa chatted to the restauranteur to make sure he knew what our dietary requirements and preferences were, and said her goodbyes. Before we knew it, an incredible, freshly-fired pizza was brought to us, along with more drinks! We tucked right in and sure enough, it was beautiful. We finished up and prepared to be on our way, completely oblivious to the fact that yet more food was about to come out for us! We were promptly brought three steaming plates full of clam spaghetti!! By the time we were actually finished, we were stuffed full of all kinds of incredible Venetian food and drink.
Having never even considered a food tour of a city before, I now feel like I need to do one wherever I go. It’s such an amazing way of experiencing some local culture, and tasting some of the most wonderful local delicacies! I cannot recommend Liv Tours enough, please do go and check them out if you fancy giving a food tour a go!