Lost in Secret Venice

There’s ONE place in Venice where I lose my way – have always done so. Three sotoporteghi in a row, one will take you straight from Campo San Lio to Campo San Zanipolo. Chances are I’ll miss the right sotoportego and will end up on Campo Santa Marina :-)

Over the years I’ve come to love this quiet campo. There’s an unsual arch – l’arco di Santa Marina standing out. The the church was demolished in 1820 and exactly in its place, the four-star hotel Santa Marina is located now.

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Even though I publish this post – almost – on the first “official day” of autumn, it doesn’t mean that the longest summer ANY Venetian can remember has yet come to an end. You can still enjoy your breakfast outside. In Campo Santa Marina, try the breakfast menu at one of the most popular pasticcerie in Venice. Pasticceria Didovich proudly maintains tradition but also looks beyond, offering a fine selection of breakfast sweets, desserts and egg dishes from neighboring countries and other regions of Italy.

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What surprised me was  their  fine selection of Viennese pastries. Of course there’s a connection between Venice and Vienna and I know of no other place in Venice where you can taste Austrian sweets. Venetians learnt how to cook and bake a little “Austrian” during a difficult time, the Austrian occupation in the 19th century. Krapfen  or krafen as they are called in Venice and Sachertorte are such examples. Also Schaumrolle,  a puff pastry roll filled with whipped cream, which in Venice is made in the Italian manner and tasting rather like crema pasticcera. 

Another specialty of Didovich’s is that they heat some pastries before serving, these are called paste calde and neatly arranged below the counter.

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In these pictures, you can see the selection on offer a few weeks ago when I showed a guest around in Venice. I went with her to taste a Venetian breakfast at Pasticceria Didovic. In this pastry store, they rely completely on clients from the neighborhood and on tourists in the warm season. It’s one of the few pastry stores with no website, no social media presence at all with the exception of their Tripadvisor mentioning.

My favorite sweet breakfast at Didovich’s is the fluffy chocolate cake covered with chocolate frosting, tasting a bit like Sachertorte, and cappuccino. But then, it’s so hard to choose from their trays laden with sweets of Neapolitan and Viennese origin next to staple Venetian breakfast treats (cornetti caldi, for example).

Below you can see orange-flower flavored pastiere mignon from Naples / Campania. Mignon choux pastry filled with whipped cream called Schaumspitz (Austrian origin) again with the Neapolitan / all-Italian filling crema pasticcera (made from cream, milk, flour, vanilla sugar).  The choux pastries you can see in the foreground covered with dripping chocolate frosting are called Liebesknochen which is another  Austrian treat.

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Their colazione all’americana – American breakfast also looks nice. I noticed how Venetians, in the past three years or so, do love ham and eggs in the morning. Brunch is getting ever more popular, at least for my generation, while my Venetian grandmother would never eat ham and eggs in the morning.

For her, it’s strictly biscotti secchi con caffé latte – a few buttery sand biscuits. In Venice, we love the Colussi biscuits. On some days, it’s brioche or cornetto but always with caffé latte – milk coffee Italian style. Sometimes, morning coffee comes flavored with cardamom,in the cooler season or when we’re in the mood for it.

The American breakfast tray at Pasticceria Didovic looks like this: Traditional ham and cheese toast flavored with butter. Ham and eggs, rucola salad and cuore di bue tomatoes, that is red, fleshy heirloom tomatoes.

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Prosciutto e uova con pomodori e rucola – Ham and eggs with tomatoes and rucola reflects what is now in season at the Rialto Market. First, fry a few slices of prosciutto cotto  in olive oil. Take the prosciutto out and fry two eggs. On a plate, arrange a refreshing heap of rucola salad and thick soft slices of the biggest tomato variant you can get. We use the called cuore di bue tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, a few drops of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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After an hour of enjoying the late summer sun it was time to continue our morning city walk of discovery – towards Marco Polo’s family home, Corte del Milion, searching for traces … and on to the colorful Rialto Market.

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