I was going to name this post “Venetian summer morning breeze “. For we start exactly here on the brink of the water where a soft breeze comes in from the sea on Riva degli Schiavoni. This area is almost empty in the early morning and looks VERY spacious now. A fact you may overlook if you come later in the day with the 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 ideas to tackle questions in my life. 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. Come to the vaporetto stop San Zaccaria next to the Doge’s Palace at 7:30 am and you’ll know what I mean. It’s rush hour in Venice. A sort of rush our that guests in Venice 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. 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 to work in Venice.
These people commuting between the mainland and Venice arrive at San Zaccaria at this time of the day. Long lines of people passing through Calle delle Rasse. This is the coffee bar and restaurant-lined calle leading to Campo San Filippo e Giacomo. Later in the day, these restaurants will decorate their windows with fish, sea food and lush salad leaves, a colorful stage attracting many clients.
You will notice that many Venetians stop in one of the cafés and bars to enjoy at least a cup of cappuccino. Bar Verde is a favorite of ours. To chat. Enjoy a warm brioche or cornetto. The favorite cornetti of Venetians – freshly baked and fragrant at this time of the day – come glazed with apricot or strawberry jam or simply covered with caster’s sugar. They are produced just by a bakery just two corners away.
You could join Venetians sipping their coffees along the counters of the bar-caffés here, 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 Venetians on their way to work, this outlet of the well-known Venetian coffeehouse and catering chain comes as a natural point to stop for breakfast.
Or, turn left at Campo San Bartolomeo to walk to the nearby Campo San Luca, to taste a favorite summer breakfast combination of mine – cappuccino and mint-flavored meringue at Pasticceria Marchini Time. The 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, 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 – from blueberry, raspberry to honey to pistachio … 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.
As you can see in the picture to the left, a view towards Campo San Polo in the early morning, there is a lot of space and many empty parts of Venice just waking up. Then again, there are the calli where Venetians swiftly pass for work or else shop the first breakfast delicacies of the day. Of course, by now, the Rialto Market opens, and it’s a boon sitting outside next to the Grand Canal.
Again, if you look for the Venetians’ choice, pass behind the Rialto Market towards the sestiere di Santa Croce. Walk along Campo San Cassiano and Campo Santa Maria Mater Domini – where a few steps away, a Pasticceria Majer outlet is located. You will marvel at 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 aperitif at noon. Always to discuss projects together, in the late morning, for a second breakfast. In former times, this was called “ombra”, but it is being replaced these days by creative toasts with home-made sauces 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.2