Why Venetians Love Early Breakfast

I was going to name this post “Venetian summer morning breeze “. For we start exactly here on the “water front” of Venice, Riva degli Schiavoni, exposed to the soft summer morning breezes coming in from the sea. This area is almost empty on an early morning, so for the time being, around 06:30 am, this looks VERY spacious, something one easily tends to overlook later in the day when the area is populated with crowds.

But now there is all the time and space you need to think things over … Whenever I have something on my mind that’s where I walk and got the most important solutions to tackle tricky questions :-). To experience this Venetian summer breeze you need to be there by 7 am on a sunny morning, preferably a work day.

This time we are following a trail, so we start at the vaporetto (water bus) stop San Zaccaria next to the Doge’s Palace at 7:30 am and you’ll know what I mean by trail. It’s rush hour in Venice, something visitors usually don’t experience as there are not so many of them around at 6:30 am. The few tourists are sometimes annoyed when the boats are full and they need to go to the airport to catch an early flight. So beware, in the morning, the vaporetti leaving from the train station Santa Lucia and Piazzale Roma are REALLY crowded. So many people living outside the Lagoon make the trip across the Ponte della Libertà – the bridge connecting Venice to the mainland – on a daily basis for work.

These people commuting between the mainland and Venice arrive at the San Zaccaria stop by 07 am. Long lines of people pass through Calle delle Rasse and many enter Bar Verde, the legendary corner bar-caffé on Campo San Filippo e Giacomo. Later in the day, the restaurants in this touristy area (it has always been a tourist area here, since the 12th century, but during those times, the “tourists” were merchants from the Levant) will decorate their windows with fish, sea food and lush salad leaves, a colorful stage attracting many passers-by.

You will notice that many Venetians stop in one of the cafés and bars to enjoy at least a cup of cappuccino. As I said above, Bar Verde is a favorite of ours. To chat, enjoy a warm brioche or cornetto. The favorite cornetti of Venetians – freshly baked and fragrant – come glazed with apricot or strawberry jam or simply covered with caster’s sugar. They are produced by a bakery just two corners away and delivered by 6:30 am.

Now, you could join Venetians sipping their coffee standing at counters of the bar-caffés or continue towards Rosa Salva’s near the church of San Salvador. As the Mercerie at that time of the day also become a thoroughway – direttissima – for the Venetians on their way to work, this outlet of the well-known Venetian coffeehouse and catering chain represents the obvious place to stop for breakfast.

Or, turn left on Campo San Bartolomeo and walk towards Campo San Luca, to taste a favorite summer breakfast combination of mine, which is rather sweet, admittedly. Sometimes, I crave for cappuccino and mint-flavored meringue at Pasticceria Marchini Time. These meringhe alla menta are crispy outside but soft and very green inside as they are flavored with menta – mint liquor. If you would like to taste the pistachio flavor in meringues instead, cross the Rialto Bridge and stop at Bar Pasticceria Targa.

Bar Targa is another best-loved place of Venetians, and also tourists often drop in for a souvenir, one of their mandorlati – almond honey cakes, of which they offer astonishing flavors ranging from blueberry, raspberry to honey and pistachio … Also, if you ever come to Venice at Christmas, do go there and taste their pandoro,which is one of the softest I have ever tasted in town.

Of course, by now, the Rialto Market opens, and it’s a boon sitting outside next to the Grand Canal, but for this purpose, we are now walking past the market, towards San Stae.

If you want to join the Venetians for their early breakfast, walk past the Rialto Market towards Campo San Cassiano and Campo Santa Maria Mater Domini, where just a few steps away, a Pasticceria Majer outlet is located. You will love their home-made cornetti and large choice of almond delights :-)

The next part of this blog series will take you to visit the TRENDY coffeehouses in Venice. Next time, we’ll start a little bit later in the day, as Venetians visit these trendy places to taste their favorite sweets and cakes and chat. For a business meeting and aperitivo at noon. Always to discuss projects together, in the late morning, for a second breakfast. In former times, this second breakfast was called ombra, consisting of a tiny glass of wine as well, now being replaced by creative toasts with home-made dips and of course, a glass of freshly squeezed juice from Sicilian oranges and one of the ten thousand varieties of tramezzini you find in town.

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  • This post really captures the atmosphere of morning in Venice and makes me quite nostalgic. When I was younger, it was not uncommon to see Venetians taking a grappa chaser with their morning espresso. I always found this astonishing.

  • Dear Luca, very glad you liked the post on the Venetian breakfast :-) Personally, I have never seen Venetians drink coffee with grappa in the early morning, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not the case :-)). They rather wolve down a tiny cup of espresso these days on their way to work. Some Venetians love their grappa-flavored coffee, after lunch or dinner, caffé con grappa..

  • Now only if I could step into the corner cafes of Venice for a quick cuppa… you make mornings sound even better with talk of cornetti and coffee :-) xx