Take off some time on a summer morning to explore and fully enjoy the cafes in this post. We start Part III of our blog series on Venetian coffeehouses at 09:00 am, preferably on a weekday. It could be a weekend, of course, but these places I’m going to present to you need some time to be savored in peace and quiet. Venetians would never go there when they’re in a rush but love stopping here for a few hours in the shade, on a sunny Saturday but also for business meetings.
In June, Venice is really getting ready for vacation. School is over and you can feel the soft and mild summer sea breeze in the morning, yet there may be heavy summer storms coming in from the Southwest later in the afternoon. As the trendy and new places include outdoor seating, make sure you go on a fine sunny morning to fully benefit from your breakfast treats.
We start in front of Hotel Metropole, once again on the sunny banks of Riva degli Schiavoni and continue walking along the narrow Calle della Pietà leading to Campo della Bragora after a sharp turn to the right. This is one of my favorite Venetians squares, a fine and airy space with red-colored wooden benches positioned near tall oleander bushes, now covered by a myriad of white blossoms. Their lush twigs are big enough for you to stop below, providing a welcome respite from the heat in the first place! Our first stop is next to that square, which in the last week of June hosts a series of summer solstice feasts, including tastings of Levantine cooking, by the way. That really takes us back to the beginnings of Venice..
Now turn round the corner and enter Salizzada Sant’Antonin. With some luck, you’ll find seats at a table at Pasticceria alla Bragora. By the way, the word bragora seems to be deducted from agorà – which means square = piazza in Greek.
So here we are in the first bar caffé I recommend for this walk. Cornetti are heavenly here. Soft, buttery and still warm, they come filled with strawberry or apricot jam and are coated with powder sugar. But their real specialty, which all Venetians of the neighborhood are craving, is the almond croissants. Their ingredients are reminiscent of the times when Venice was first in Europe to offer cakes and desserts sweetened with sugar, which was cane sugar the Venetians grew on their own plantations located on Cyprus and Crete.
At Pasticceria della Bragora, they do offer different treats to the all-Italian breakfast sweets, they really seem to specialize in re-creating ancient biscuits and cakes, that’s why I’m including this coffee shop in the trend setters post. They offer torta greca – the marvelous Venetian-Greek amaretto cake, fluffy and incredibly fragrant and light. Don’t forget to ask for a few of their chocolate-amaretto flavored zaletioresse enriched with aniseed … reminiscent of the ancient Venetian art of baking biscuits with spices.
As the sun is getting hotter it’s time to move on. I suggest you continue walking along Riva degli Schiavoni. Now cross a few bridges and turn left again into Via Garibaldi.
From here, it’s just five minutes, walking along leafy Viale Garibaldi, to arrive at one of the trendiest spots in Venice. Serra dei Giardini doesn’t open until 11 am but when they do, you could enjoy a second breakfast and / or lunch snacks followed by soft biscuits delivered by a bakery from Burano (Pasticceria Palmisano). There’s also delicious toast, I love the vegetarian variant, eggplant – mozzarella variant with a home-made aromatic herbs dip.
La Serra dei Giardini is a bar-caffé located in a shiny yet intimate winter garden, on the edge of a hothouse which is part of a garden center. I love sitting either outside on the terrace or inside on a black wrought-iron chair surrounded by pot plants. Some are very exotic and take up lots of space :-) Even when you come here by yourself, there are books to keep you company, garden books and magazines arranged on the window sills, a pleasure to read on a leisurely morning. So inviting – I could stay here all day long.
I love their Earl Grey, and always enjoy a cup of blueberry-flavored green tea afterwards. Plus toast, often with local cheese and ham, served with home-made herb dip flavored with mayonnaise, parsley, chives and thyme.
That means, lunch for the day is included :-) You might want to stay on, take a look at the garden center or, as it’s summer, explore the adjacent Biennale exhibition grounds and gardens. Then, retracing your steps, walk back to Calle della Pietà to the point where we started our walk… next to the relaxing citrus fruit garden of Hotel Metropole …16