Venice is like Disney World for adults. I stil can’t get over the sights I saw and the sheer beauty of the city. The moment I stepped out of the train station and caught my first glimpse of the main canal, it took my breath away. The city itself doesn’t feel real, but more like a manmade theme park, simply because it’s so surreal. Unfortunately, the world knows this, as millions of tourist flock to the Nothern Italian series of islands that together make Venezia. Although it’s one of the only places I’ve been that the throngs of tourists don’t bother me, the extreme tourism does show through out. It takes a great mix of real navigation, thorough research, and getting lost to find the hidden gems.
And thankfully, I did.
I can’t wait to go back to Venice. I’ll be sure to visit these hidden gems I scoured the city for and highly recommend:
Tucked within the academic district, this artisan paper shop is filled with handmade paper goods and other items featuring a dazzling array of gorgeous hand-painted patterns and prints. The beautiful designs are inspired by classic Venetian and Italian motifs, and every piece is produced using traditional methods.
Where: Academia District
Cioccolateria Vizio Virtù
This charming, yet contemporary chocalateria features stunning cocoa creations. Besides turning chocolate into art, all their creations taste divine. If it’s cold out, indulge in their melted hot chocolate. On a hotter humid day, get the gelato. Also absolutely delicious: their rich chocolate brownie. Everything is good!
What: Handmade Chocolate, Pastries, & Gelato.
Where: Near the Rialto Bridge
Oh My Blue
A luxury-meets-quirky jewellery & accessories store, featuring exquisitely curated pieces from international designers.
What: Jewellery & Accessories
Where: San Polo side
Pasticceria Italo Didovich
Head to this cafe after visiting St. Mark’s Square, where you’ll momentarily escape from the hustle and bustle of the beaten path. Rub elbows with the locals by ordering an espresso at the counter, and sip it standing (it’s the Venetian way, know you?), along with an accompanying pastry from their excellent selection.
What: Local Cafe
Where: Near St. Mark’s Square
Cà D’Oro alla Vedova
This cozy bacaro serves up excellent pre-dinner snacks. Go for the polpette (hot and crunchy polenta balls), and stay for the (ever-flowing) wine served in traditional palline glasses.
What: Bacaro for Cichetti
Where: Ca D’Oro, Cannaregio
Al Vecio Marangon
This charming little restaurant tucked within winding side streets in the lesser-visited Dosuordo area can only fit a dozen or so people. A golden glow emanating from inside looked so inviting, and buzzing with people created for the perfect atmosphere. Get the platter with a full selection of cichetti along with a spritz.
What: Charming little Resto
Where: Dorsoduro area
Mediocre meal after mediocre meal that left our once hopeful outlook on Venetian cuisine diminished. We blamed it on the tourists, and had come to terms with the fact that we just weren’t going to eat a decent dish. Then we stumbled upon this gem of place completely by accident (on the way to another dinner reservation, in fact). What may look unassuming from the exterior, opens up into one of the most stunning spaces I have ever had the pleasure of eating in. Housed in a former convent, the gorgeous building features both a cafe during the day, and a restaurant in the back at night, complete with interior courtyard. And the food! Everything was divine, from the complimentary prosecco + cured salmon starters, througout the mains and right down to the dessert. Simply put, it was perfection. Ristorante Contemporaneo Ogio is so good I almost didn’t want to share it. I don’t want it to be ruined. We were surrounded by Italians, and I’d like to keep it that way.
What: Restaurant + Cafe
Where: Cannaregio District, opposite the Island of the Greek Orthodox Cemetery.