Le sagre estive – summer feasts in Venice are a good time to taste street food mostly consisting of ancient local food combinations. Venice has a centuries-old tradition of cibo di strada, street food boasting many sfissiéti – delicious treats.
Street food served at sagre isn’t picnic food but follows a long tradition. Fritoléri – the street vendors (vegetables, fish, arancini di riso – rise balls) during seasonal festivities fried little treats in the corner of a campo and sold them at a bancarella (stall). You can witness this ancient tradition in town in summer, for example at the summer solstice feast on Campo della Bragora.
What does Venetian street food look like?
First of all, it’s fried sea food and fish. In the summer, street food is simply fried fish and fried seasonal vegetables. True, cicheti fall into this category, but street food comprises much more. Often, this food comes accompanied by delicious salse – sauces. Did you know that the word sauce derives from the Venetian savór ? Venetians invented sauces to accompany meat and fish.
For example, Venetians love calamari fritti e ripieni (filled with herbs and ricotta and lemon zest). You can see them above. Sometimes, street food consists of vegetables like fiori di zucca fritti (fried squash blossoms) and fiori di zucchina fritti (fried zucchini blossoms).
Venetians love pesce in cartosso (cartoccio in Italian). That’s a bit like fish and chips! You can see below that sometimes it comes served in a brown paper bag. Of course, another summer favorite in Venice is the traditional sarde in saór.
What’s unique to street food offered in summer, is there a seasonal difference ?
Yes, there’s a difference to cibo di strada in inverno – winter street food. In winter you’d rather get arancini di riso (coated rice balls filled with minced meat, melting cheese, herbs, spices and sometimes tomato puree). But there are also more substantial, dessert varieties of winter street food like the famous fritole Venetians eat during Carnival.
Where can I taste street food in Venice?
- At the sagre estive in town (summer street feasts). In the bacari, just try their delicious cicheti (antipasti). Amongst my favorite bacari is Aciugheta in Campo SS Filipo e Giacomo.
- In the fall during the sagra della Madonna della Salute. Stalls next to the Church offer all kinds of winter street food, sweet and nourishing for a cold day.
- Enter any store in Venice called alimentari like this one in the picture below. Walk past their offer of herbs, spices and pasta and take a look at their counter. They sell fabulous fresh and fried plates of typical street food and usually prepare a bag for you to take away.