New Year’s Eve in Venice

While I’m writing the sky in Venice is like a pearl – shimmering perlaceo. No clouds, it’s a pale blue and milky-tinted winter sky. A treat for us because the period between December and January is called la stagione senza colore. The (short) season of invisible colors is ahead, a downside if you love taking photos. But then it also showcases the ice-blue colors of the Lagoon.

According to the calendario contadino – the farmer’s moon calendar, il Giorno di San Silvestro – New Year’s Eve, just like la Vigilia di Natale – Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve are thoughtful days dedicated to celebrating the cylce of the Notti Sante – the Holy Nights with their own traditions and meals, a few of which we are going to present to you in this article.

Tonight will be different, a break from the silent starry nights Venice has been enjoying of late. You can see the crowds flocking to Riva degli Schiavoni in your webcam which we’ve included in the links below.

You need three ingredients to witness Venice celebrating the arrival of the New Year. Join in virtually for il brindisi della Mezzanotte here where you can see the fireworks. Click here at midnight Venice time and listen to the marangona bell of the Campanile welcoming the New Year. Third, taste a traditonal New Year in Venice and take a look at our ancient recipes & menu below !

Breakfast on 31 December is much like breakfast on 24 December. We eat pinsa, a polenta cake flavored with grappa, pine nuts (pinoli) and raisins. It’s wonderful waking up to a warm smell of cinnamon coming in the kitchen 🙂 and with tea and spices it’s a traditional restoring winter meal for the Holy Nights. As both Christmas and New Year’s Eve were fasting days until about 40 years ago, just one meal was eaten sometime in the early afternoon counting as both lunch and dinner. Now it’s cooked in the morning and eaten up during the day. At noon, we love it as dessert and later, it accompanies our New Year’s Eve hot chocolate and a chocolate cake in the oven. You’ll discover, this hot chocolate is all about the smell of Mediterranean Christmas 🙂

Cioccolata calda speziata per le feste

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A restoring drink before spending New Year's Eve outside.

More recipes soon at our Spice Atelier site – La Spezeria.


  • 250 gr whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 piece of star anise
  • 4 heaped teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • bergamot essential oil (bought in a spice food store or pharmacy only !!)


For two cups, in a pan slowly heat a few teaspoons of the milk with the cocoa powder and carefully stir in the corn starch (maizena – maize starch). In a second pan, heat the rest of the milk with the sugar and the star anise. Bring to the boil and cook at low heat for about 10 minutes. Mix both pans and bring to the boil once more, carefully stirring until the chocolate becomes densa – thick. Before serving, flavor with a few drops of essential bergamot oil or with chocolate liquor – we use Majani’s.

In the campagna veneta and the Lagoon, four spices were used to make a traditional New Year’s Eve menu, my grandmother tells me. Spices were used to instil strength and health during the white and blue days of December and January. We will use this mixture for our menu this evening – arrosto farcito di maiale – pork baked in the oven and flavored with ground lemon peel, black pepper corns, chili flakes and yellow mustard seed.

For the brindisi della Mezzanotte that is, taking a drink on the rooftop terrace, we love vin brulé, spicy and flavored with raspberries, raspberry syrup and grappa. Tonight’s menu, in addition to the baked pork, usually consists of cold tacchino al forno con pepe verde, fernet branca e spezie – turkey baked in the oven with green pepper corns, fernet branca (herbal liquor) and puntarelle radicchio salad. Desserts include mousse al Campari e anice stellato which is star anise – Campari flavored mousse and our cioccolatini fatti in casa al profumo di bergamotto, home-made chocolates flavored flavored with bergamot juice.

Buon Anno 2017 ! – Happy New Year to you!

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  1. As always, your posts leave me longing for Venice. I’ve not visited in the winter, and am not a fan of cold weather in general. But your description of Venezia on New Year’s Eve has made me think I could brave the cold to experience it. The chocolate beverage looks divine, and perhaps would be even better with a tot of rum or amaretto? 🙂 Strictly for flavoring, of course. Have a very happy New Year, and I look forward to more of your wonderful posts in 2017! Thank you for bringing a little bit of my favorite city into my life every week. Your blog is truly one that I love and eagerly await!

    1. Dear Vanessa, sorry for my late answer, I’ve yet to find the space where my self hosted WordPress blog puts comments. There are several folders and I had overlooked this one. Thank you for your kind words and wishes! We wish you a wonderful and radiant New Year! We keep thinking of new topics to write about, including many spice recipes and an ebook about Carnival in Venice. It was very cold in the last few days but that’s an unusual spell of very cold weather. Btw – we do flavor hot chocolate and amaretto is just divine ☺ There’s also a home made version of it. We’ll soon write another post. Warm regards to you, Iris

  2. Buon Anno! The silvery film of winter-time Venice has its own ethereal magic which I am sure those who are there at this time of year appreciate. Hot chocolate with pinsa sounds like a delicious tradition!

    1. Buon Anno a Voi !! Mornings are rather ethereal these days but then most of Christmas time has been sunny so far. The silvery film will decorate Venice in the weeks to come 🙂 Christmas Pinsa is a very restoring meal that keeps you going for a winter day.

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