Venice Artisans: A Taste of Venice Blog tour was characterized by the large support of local businesses and artisans, who fully understood our mission to present the real Venice to the world, to try to help the rebirth of this beautiful city exposing to everyone the Venetian people and their centuries old crafts.
Piero Dri of Il Forcolaio Matto was the first one I contacted and who immediately gave us his support, his time, his passion and his knowledge to this project!
I met Piero a few years ago when we both got involved in the filming of Secret Italy with Alex Polizzi. Piero took the British presenter on his boat along the narrow and hidden canals of Venice, to show her the side of the city which usually all tourists miss.
Alex Polizzi and Piero Dri in the filming of Secret Italy by Daily Mail
After the filming we got talking and we immediately realized we were on the same wave of length when talking about Venice, the future of the city and how people like us could help change the way tourists see our city.
Piero had just opened his shop crafting and selling oars and oarlocks and it is a real pleasure for me seeing that his gamble paid off and he is becoming more and more well-known both locally and internationally and he is slowly but surely reaching his goals.
He is a man full of passion for this ancient craft but at the same time he is young enough to be opened to the changes which this modern world has brought. He has managed to combine old and new in a unique way and I truly respect him for this!
A taste of Venice meets Il Forcolaio Matto
I just wish the people who run the city could learn from the way he, and many other local young artisans like him, operate and manage to use their skills and the city, without abusing and destroying Venice.
But let’s Piero Dri tell you all about himself!
Introduce yourself to our readers: who is your company and what does it do?
My name is Piero Dri, and Il Forcolaio Matto (The crazy Oarlock maker) is the name of my company.
Next to the construction of the oars there is also the realization of the so called Forcole, the typical Venetian oarlocks. The Forcola is an object that exists only in Venice; it is a particular wooden row lock on which the oar of the rower rests.
Forcola by Piero Dri
The Voga alla Veneta is a unique standing rowing technique, where the oar must be free to move from the oarlock at every opportunity.
Venice is in fact made up of narrow canals, it has a very particular geography and steering a boat is not always so easy, especially if it’s windy or if the tide is high. The gondolier must be able to manoeuvre his gondola in the most efficient and rapid possible way and this can be done only through the Forcola.
I carve the Forcola from a single piece of walnut wood, carefully and naturally seasoned in my own workshop. I follow the traditional processing technique, all by hand and each piece is unique, tailored to the client, which is more often than not a gondolier.
Carving a Forcola by Piero Dri
Each Gondolier has therefore his own oar and his own oarlock.
The particular shape of the forcola makes possible the positioning of the oar in 7 different push or support points, so to always have a perfect control of the boat.
The sculptural lines and the special surfaces of the Forcola do bring out the beautiful grain of the wood and make it an object of great beauty, especially appreciated as a piece of furniture.
How long have you been operating in Venice?
I was born in Venice in 1983. I have always lived here. I opened my own business, The Forcolaio Matto, in early 2013, after a 7 year long period of apprenticeship in the workshop of my master teacher, Paolo Brandolisio.
What do you love the most about Venice?
I decided to embark on this career path in my city because I love Venice and I consider it a wonderful place to live.
I love the tranquillity of Venice, I love its colours, its silences. I love the water noise, the shouting of the people talking to each other on the street.
Bloggers meeting Piero Dri
I love the size, large enough to be able to have different zones, which are all individual for history and conformation, but small enough to be crossed on foot in no more than an hour. I love the Lagoon of Venice, its rhythms, the sunrises and the sunsets which it offers every day.
I love Venice, its proximity to the sea and at the same time also to the Dolomites, which in the most clear days, stand out on the horizon of water. I love the Venetian social dimension, the streets and the campi are always a meeting place for people and the exchange of greetings. I think it is unique for all this, in addition to the artistic, architectural, cultural site of which Venice is so rife.
What would you change in Venice?
I would not change a thing in Venice, but I would change the way of living it. Here tranquillity, peace of life, serenity should reign.
We live in a busy world, where everything has to be fast, quick, efficient. Living in Venice should mean adapting to its urban structure, that of a city of water, a unique city. Instead people want to try to fit the new needs of modern man, which I think ends up being more technological, but also more stressed and less happy than he could have been 50 years ago. It is no coincidence that in recent years many young people in Italy not only choose to return to work the land, but also to return to simple jobs.
Oarlock by Piero Dri
For many years we thought we could do without menial jobs, making us blinded by the illusion of a comfortable life in all respects. I, in a sense, feel part of this new generation of “rebels” in the sense of youth in contrast. Opening my business I decided to return to the past, to keep it alive, to keep the tradition. That’s why I called it “Il Forcolaio Matto”, because sometimes you feel like a fish out of water.
But I firmly believe, and I am not the only one, Venice could be a gem, an exemplary city, where you can build a model life, a happy life, on a human scale. It could be a city where technology goes hand in hand with respect for the land, very fragile in this case, where you can enjoy human relationships in these little alleyways. It would take a lot of intelligence and foresight.
Alas, these are rare qualities and today everything is more confined to easy speculation, the vile exploitation of the territory, the worship of Tourism, easy for immediate gain, without realizing that there is no longer a social fabric living through the historic buildings , that the invasion of tourists is sweeping away the residents. For now the majority choose to destroy Venice.
Forcola e remo by Piero Dri
But not myself and others like me! A Taste of Venice is one of us!
For information contact:
Il Forcolaio Matto
Il Forcolaio Matto
Ramo dell’oca Cannaregio 4231 30121 Venezia – Italy
Sustainable tourism in Venice: the delicacy of the historical context, the exceptional nature of its structure, the numerical disproportion between inhabitants and visitors make Venice a unique city.
A city where it is getting harder and harder to reconcile the need of generating income for the local economy and at the same time preserving the environment.
The relationship between residents and tourists has been for many years one of the crucial subjects for the local city government and for the quality of life of all residents.
Vivo Venetia – sustainable tourism in Venice
Too little tourism and the city cannot live. Too much tourism and the city cannot live the same.
The search for balance is especially difficult.
The solution has to be a different kind of tourism: sustainable tourism.
Sustainable tourism means a tourism which is committed to generating a low impact on the surrounding environment and community by acting responsibly while generating income and employment for the local economy and aiding social cohesion.
In Venice this has become everyday more imperative and thanks to companies like Vivo Venetia, who are dedicated to connect local artisans and business with the visitors, a glimpse of light could be ahead.
Gondole in San Trovaso
When I started to dream about bringing a group on international bloggers to Veniceto experience My Venice with the blog tour A Taste of Venice, Vivo Venetia immediately appeared to me as the first choice for a partner to carry forward a project like the one I had in mind.
As soon as I met Cecile Rousset, the founder of this very young start-up company, we hit it off and realized that we had the same aim in mind: to show the world that Venice is not just fake Murano glass and cheap Chinese made masks. There is a large network of real authentic and talented Venetian people, proud of their city and their heritage, who are just waiting for the world to discover them!
But let’s hear it directly from Cecile of Vivo Venetia.
Introduce yourself to our readers: who is your company and what does it do?
We are a group of young people living in Venice and in the Veneto region.
We care about the future of this gorgeous city and the culture which has sprung from it for all these centuries! This is the meaning of VivoVenetia, which literally translates as Live the whole Veneto region.
Our aim is to create a multilingual portal dedicated to sustainable tourism where local businesses, artisans, artists can showcase their activites, putting them in direct contact with the visitors as well as local residents, which are then given a chance to live the real Venice and Veneto Region.
Basically we built a commercial mediation, a bridge between supply and demand, in order to assist and guide those curious travellers who are looking for high quality experiences and activities.
At a local level, tourists become “temporary residents” and at the same time, local residents can discover a new way to experience their region or city, only a few steps away from home.
Our aim is to modify the stereotyped image of Venice throughout the world and open the Veneto region to international tourism, by showcasing a sustainable tourism network of local artisans and businesses to a larger international audience.
Book binding by Fabricharte – photo by Vivo Venetia
How long have you been operating in Venice?
VivoVenetia was born in 2015, we are a really young start up!
Our team is multicultural: we are in our thirties, all Venetian “at heart” and from different but complementary backgrounds, going from international sustainable development to tourism and euro-project management.
VivoVenetia was born to have a real impact on sustainable tourism, with a positive and energetic attitude, brought forward by a group of passionate people, keen to contribute to a human and ethic development in the Veneto Region. It is our life project.
Glass Blowing photo by Vivo Venetia
What do you love the most about Venice?
We love its beautiful fragility, its longevity and its being in and out history, teacher of knowledge and discrepancy throughout time!
This city is the crossroad of different cultures, a bridge between Orient and Occident. It symbolizes the indissociable bond between soil and water.
Cecile, the French born founder of Vivo Venetia, has chosen to settle in Venice after travelling a lot around the world, mainly because of its unique character.
Venice is like a mother: she knows how to cuddle you and sing lullabies, but she may as well scold you when you take the wrong road. Then she forgives you. She touches your heart and lifts your spirits. Its waters act as a mirror, helping you to look deep inside and truly understand yourself.
Cecile Rousset meets the bloggers of A Taste of Venice and introduces Vivo Venetia and sustainable tourism in Venice
What would you change in Venice?
Vivo Venetia unique experiences in Venice
The citizens are all tired with “hit-and-run” mass tourism, which drains the city at a cultural and ecological level without boosting the economy. We want to show respect to Venice and its inhabitants, and contribute to preserve the “soul” of the city.
Many small businesses, which offer typical products, are struggling to survive mainly because of their inability to promote themselves efficiently; in fact, they are never really able to reach the end users.
When you are unable to close sales, any speech about changing things are empty words. What we would like to see, instead, is a direct contact between supply and demand, thanks precisely to the opportunities offered by e-commerce.
We would like to be able to contribute to change the actual ability to integrate tourism to sustainable socio-economic dynamics, creating a network of thousands of new Venetian people, from all around the world, made of visitors and tourists in love with Venice and messengers of its peculiarity.
Cooking in Venice: a recount of Day 2 of “A Taste of Venice Food & Travel Blog Tour”
A Taste of Venice Food & Travel Blog Tour
January 13th 2016: another sunny yet chilly day in Venice. A very typical morning greets our bloggers at the start of their second day in Venice for our blog tour A Taste of Venice.
Today is a day of cooking in Venice, of preparing and tasting authentic Venetian food, of meeting and getting to know local artisans – it is a full on day, packed with lots of activities and events!
A Taste of Venice Blog Tour by U-Cook
It’s an early cold start – Arianna from Cook In Venice and I (the second half of the company) are meeting with our 10 bloggers at Rialto Market, where we will take a walk around and select all the ingredients we will need to use for our Venetian cooking class later in the morning. Liliana, a very good friend of ours, is meeting us there and she will assist us all during the class.
Rialto Fish Market by Liz Knight
The girls turn up all looking a bit tired and with puffy eyes (the first signs of a fully packed blog tour are already showing up) but they are all so excited to go around the market: it is still pretty early so there aren’t any real crowds. They have plenty of space and time to take tons of amazing photos of the large variety of fresh fish and the locally produced fruits and vegetables! For the food bloggers of the group this is heaven on earth!
We pick up our products from our local and trusty fishmonger: two slabs of salt cod for our Baccalà Mantecato and quite a lot of cuttlefish for our Seppie in Umido.
Cuttlefish for Seppie in Umido by Liz Knight
We then move on to the vegetable section and pick all the ingredients needed for our risotto and our side dish of gratin potatoes. Having to drag the girls away from the stalls, we head to our local baker and purchase some fresh bread, which will be the base for our baccalà mantecato.
Radicchio di Treviso at Rialto Market by Liz Knight
Then we head off to the location of our Venetian cooking class: Palazzo Minotto, a stunning 15th century palace in Dorsoduro, where we will be able to use the kitchen and all of the beautiful living quarters of the apartment where the cooking classes take place. We have to thank Gabriella Pianizzola and her charming apartment in Venice for this!
After a short walk through the enchanting little alleyways of Venice, trying not to loose any of our bloggers through the maze of canals and hidden corners, we finally arrive at Palazzo Minotto, where we will be joined by Francesco of Vivo Venetia.
Here we are greeted by one of the most spectacular site ever: Gabriella has expertly decorated the dining room and enormous table with the most exquisite taste – it is a flash of wonderful vivid colors. The red and crystal rays of the Murano Glass blown tableware by Abate Zanetti, one of our sponsors, the crispy white tablecloths and the fresh fruit basket: I am taken back by the gloirous beauty. I asked Gabriella to set the table for all of the people taking part in the cooking class and also for the sponsors, but I did not realize she would so such a great job!
The amazing table setting with Murano glass plates by Abate Zanetti thanks to Gabriella
Welcome aperitif with prosecco ColSaliz and cheese by Perenzin by Ciao Tutti
We ask Laura Faganello, founder, with her brother, of Prosecco Colsaliz to introduce us to the wines which we will be drinking for our aperitif, during the cooking lessons and also during all the lunch which will follow the class. Laura very kindly (and a bit emotionally) explains that her wines are produced in Refrontolo, a small little town placed in a lookout hill in front of the area of the Piave River and the Montello area, in a central position to the hills of the Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. She comes from a long tradition of wine and spirits making and she has been running the Colsaliz vineyards for many years now. The company has won many awards at Vinitaly with their different types of Proseccos.
Prosecco Colsaliz by Liz Knight
But Laura is not really a talking person, but more like a do person, so without further ado she expertly uncorks a bottle of Prosecco di Valdobiaddene DOCG Spumante Extra Dry, to the delight of all present.
And while we sip on our delicious bubbles, I introduce Emanuela Perenzin and her daughter Erika of Latteria Perenzin, who very kindly give us an in-depth explanation of all the cheese which we are about to taste. Emanuela proudly introduce us to her large selection of drunken cheese: Bufala with Glera, Formaggio Ciock with Mosto d’Uva, Capra with Traminer and San Pietro in Cera D’api.
Drunken cheese and Wine by The Venice Experience
Drunken cheeses are a particular typical cheese from Veneto: to drunk the cheese is a particular treatment that seems to have been discovered accidentally during the Great War, when the farmers of the areas of Conegliano and Oderzo, hid the cheese with the grape skins to avoid the Austrian soldiers finding them. This method impermeabilizes the rind, conferring a unique flavour to the cheese.
This amazing cheese making company has been collecting awards globally for the last few years and after a sample of their cheese, the bloggers know exactly why!
But now we have to get cooking otherwise we will never be able to have lunch!
So, we gather our bloggers in the kitchen and we start our cooking marathon. Today’s menu is composed of typical Venetian Recipes:
Risotto with Radicchio di Treviso and Formaggio Ciock al Mosto d’Uva
Seppie in Umido
Patate al Gratin
Tiramisù with Ricotta Mascarponata (another unique cheese by Latteria Perenzin)
Running very late on our schedule we finally managed to sit all down to taste the pantagruelian banquet we managed to cook up with the help of our bloggers.
Stunning table setting for A Taste of Venice
We are joined at the table by Gabriella, Laura, Emanuela and Erika, as well as our sponsors for the day, Davide and Valentina for Abate Zanetti and Marco Priori for U-Cook Italia, which provided all the knives and utensils for our cooking class in Venice.
Abate Zanetti table ware by Liz Knight
As soon as we sit down we are joined also by Marisa Convento of Venetian Dreams, Marco Jovon and his mum Gabriella of Gioielleria Eredi Jovon, Johann DePietri and his wife Anna of Jam Web – all of this amazing people will each give us an hour lecture on their companies, explaining what they do in Venice.
But for the moment we all sit down to enjoy the dishes we have cooked all together, presented on the stunning plates by Abate Zanetti, drinking waves of Prosecco and Rosè by Colsaliz. I stopped counting the bottles at 10!!!
To see all of this people, bloggers and sponsors, all sitting together, having a great time, talking about Venice and how to help promote a new form of tourism, one which can preserve and help the city, is a dream come true for me. This is the fulcrum of A Taste of Venice blog tour, a moment which I will treasure for the rest of my life – even though Arianna, Liliana and I were so busy cooking and dishing out that we did not manage to sit down with all of them!
After lunch it is time for our sponsors to introduce themselves, so whilst Liliana and Arianna wash the dishes by hand (the only fault of a beautifully glass blown dish is that you have to hand wash it, so you can only imagine having to clean a full set of plates and glasses for a table of 25!), I organize for the bloggers and the sponsors to relocate to the stylish living room of Palazzo Minotto, where for the next 3 hours the bloggers will be able to learn about ceramic Italian designed knives, Venetian hand carved cameos, Venetian Murano glass beads and how to optimize their websites for maximum traffic!
Tiramisu con Ricotta mascarponata e U-Cook ceramic knives by U-Cook Italia
And when the girls thought the day was coming to an end, I quickly call them to action and off we go, not forgetting to first thank Gabriella for her wonderful hospitality and for putting at our disposal her beautiful home. Our destination is not far from Palazzo Minotto – we are off to Quanto Basta, a local ice cream parlour and take away shop in Lista di Spagna.
Ice cream at Quanto Basta
Here Marta Semenzato, together with her family, runs this Venetian artisan gelateria and here it is where she will explain us, for the next hour, how ice cream was born, how it is produced and what makes their ice cream special. We also get to taste some too and we get a sneak peak to their large selection of frittelle too, since unofficially here in Venice is already Carnival time.
Once Marta has finished her very interesting talk, we set off again, this time towards Rialto, to be more precise to Calle Delle Acque, where we are going to visit Sogno Veneziano Atelier, a local shop owned by Giulia and Igor, who design and create hand stitched Carnival costumes and masks.
Masks by Igor of Sogno Veneziano by Jonell Galloway
Once we step through the little door of the atelier, our bloggers are left breathless. the shop is jam packed with incredibly decorated Carnival costumes, of all shapes, styles and sizes, both for men and women alike. Giulia even designs and creates costumes for small dogs, unique!
Giulia explains that she chose the name of her shop meaning Venetian Dream, because everyone has the right to live a dream once in a life time and not necessarily only at Carnival time. And Igor adds that their costumes are designed to be desirable, to make women feel wanted and glamorous.
As well as creating their costumes and masks, Giulia and Igor organize also photobooks and wedding proposals and since they are good singers, I am pretty sure they will be happy to sing for you if you pop in their shop to visit them!
So late at night on this cold winter evening in Venice, I finally say goodbye to my dear friend bloggers and set off already thinking of tomorrow’s events, another day packed full of unusual activities in Venice. Tomorrow is a day dedicated to glass, Murano glass like you have neve seen it before!
Remember all of the activities which our bloggers have taken part in can be booked online directly on the site of our partners or on the site of Vivo Venetia.
January 12th 2016: a chilly but very sunny and early morning on the City of Water.
Carmela Sereno Hayes of Carmela’s Kitchen enjoying the winter sun in Venice
The first two bloggers, of the 10 participating to A Taste of Venice Food & Travel Blog tour, have arrived in Venice: Beatrice Sartori of Select Italyand Carmela Sereno Hayes of Carmela’s Kitchen.
From Piazzale Roma, Venice Bus Terminal, I (Monica Cesarato, creator and organizer of the blog tour A Taste of Venice) guide them through the maze of alleyways and canals all the way to Zattere, the location of two of the apartments which Views On Venice has kindly offered us to use throughout the event.
View on Venice has put at our disposal two very well spacious and very modern apartments overlooking the Squero of San Trovaso, the place where they build and restore gondolas – so every morning our bloggers get an insight view of one of the oldest workmanship in Venice.
Apartment Ca’ dello Squero 1 and apartment Ca’ dello Squero 2, are located just a few step from the shores of the Fondamenta delle Zattere, just a bridge away from Gelateria da Nico, one of the best ice cream parlours in Venice. They are both composed of 3 double bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and large living room. Both apartments have free WiFi access and the kitchens are brand new.
Ca’ Dello Squero photo by Views on Venice
We are met by Marta of View on Venice, which shows us around and offers a very warm welcome, explaining in details how to use the various facilities of the apartments, where to go and what to do in the area and much more. The apartments have also one of the best welcome/instruction books I have ever seen in rental apartments in Italy.
Soon after I leave Beatrice and Carmela to settle in their rooms and I head to Santa Lucia train station to meet up with Liz Knight of Rome If You Want To and Silvia Donati of Italy Magazine.
As soon as the girls arrive, I rush them (and already set the pace for the rest of the tour, poor things) through the little calle of Venice, amongst their exclamations of delight and amazement at the views which welcome them! The sun is bright in the sky, no clouds, simply a perfect day in Venice!
After a quick check in for the remaining bloggers, we all settle down in the main living room of Ca Dello Squero 1 and have our welcome briefing and the official opening of what will be later defined by some bloggers, an “epic” blog tour in Venice!
Venice Food And Travel
I start by explaining to all present what A Taste of Venice Food & Travel Blog tour is, why it came about and how I would liked for it to develop.
Glass Blowing photo by Vivo Venetia
A Taste of Venice was born out of love for Venice. I wanted people to understand that there is a new Venice which is being reborn, composed by local passionate artisans who are struggling and fighting everyday to show the world that Venice is not just cheap tacky masks and fake glass and overpriced and horrible food. There is a real Venice out there, you just have to take the time and effort to go and look for it. A Taste of Venice wants to show people how easy it is to find it and to enjoy it! So, after gathering a group of local trusty people, including artisans, entrepreneurs, food and wine people and with their total support, I organised a 4 day event aimed at the discovery of a Venice which is often missed and overlooked by the masses!
So, after thanking both bloggers and sponsors alike for their incredible support, I leave my audience to Francesca and Francesco of Vivo Venetia, co-organisers of the event.
Murano Glass by Vivo Venetia
Vivo Venetia is a brand new start-up, the brainchild of Cécile Rousset,a young French woman who has been living and working in Italy for many years now. Cécile wants to achieve exactly the same as I do with my blog tour, but on a larger scale: the aim of her company is to put in touch directly, through her very well designed and user friendly portal, the tourist with the artisans, by allowing the visitors to book classes, demos, visits and much more directly online. The site allows the clients also to build a day itinerary and book the various unique activities in Venice on line and with one click! The site gives full visibility to all those artisans and local Venetian activities that do not own a website or who do not have time to follow the internet market as much as they would. Vivo Venetia offers the opportunity to live the city with a unique point of view, in a very authentic way, meeting the real people of Venice and creating personalized experiences. A great idea which I sincerely hope will bring her lots of success.
After a quick presentation and video, it is the turn of Ursula, the representative of Views on Venice, who introduces us to the company, which manages and rents a large number of modern deluxe apartments and palaces in Venice. Views on Venice is a Venetian company, founded in the late 90s by Filippo Gaggia, a local Venetian whose aim was to rent his family properties and those of friends to an international clientele, to allow them to enjoy “living at home like a Venetian”, with the freedom and comfort which a hotel room does not offer. Now boasting more than 70 properties among its portfolio, including many locations on the Gran Canal, Views on Venice is the leader in the short rental property business in Venice, putting customer care always at the forefront of its services.
And after all the introductions, we finally set off to start what would turn out to be a whirlwind of activities and memorable moments in Venice.
Our first stop is Il Forcolaio Matto, aka Piero Dri, an astronomer turned oarlock maker who, armed only with his passion and hard work, has set up his own artisan shop in the area of Cannaregio, one of the six districts of Venice.
Piero Dri aka Il Forcolaio Matto
We arrive at Piero’s shop late afternoon where we are greeted by his huge smile – which I think is brought along by the fact that I turn up with a group of 10 and more good looking women – any man’s dream, I suppose!
Il Forcolaio Matto meets DreamDiscoverItalia and Select Italy
For the next hour he explains with his nice methodical but yet passionate way of speaking what an oarlock maker is, how and why he started this craft, how hard it is to operate such an old art in such a modern world (he has to make his own tools because many are now obsolete) and what keeps him going. Talking to Piero is like breathing in fresh air: the love for his job, the passion for the boats and the wood, the respect of the old Venetian ways but at the same time embracing new ideas – all of this is exactly what A Taste of Venice is all about. It is for people like Piero and all the others, who the bloggers will meet in the next few days, that this blog tour was organized.
This is the Venice which visitors and tourists should discover and learn to love, this is the Venice which we should all be proud of and make every effort to protect!
Anyway, after our lovely, interesting and invigorating chat with Il Forcolaio Matto, we take a short walk towards Campo San Lio, where, in her brand new shop, is waiting for us Mariangela Penzo, the owner of Vizio Virtù, the best artisan chocolatier in Venice.
Mariangela founded Vizio Virtùchocolate shop 10 years ago near Campo San Tomà, against everyone’s negative opinion, She was not a trained chocolatier and people thought she was crazy in starting such a demanding enterprise in a particular place like Venice. But against all odds and a lot of hard work and studying, Mariangela has proven everyone wrong, and ten years later, after moving location for a bigger place, she can boast to be the proud owner of one of the best artisan food shops in Venice.
She greets us with a big smile, as she always does when people walk through her little chocolate wonderland, and all ten bloggers greet her with a face of awe and wonder: the smell of cocoa, chocolate and spices is overwhelming and we all feel like little kids in a candy store. I am pretty sure not just one blogger, and I won’t mention any names, you know who you are, felt like just grabbing everything, curl up in a corner and simply munch away and die and go to heaven!
Vizio Virtù Amazing Pralines
Mariangela prepares a mixed set of her delicious little pralines for us to taste whilst she explains the history of cocoa, how cocoa is extracted and how chocolate is made. She is very passionate about her work and I always wonder how she can keep so thin working in such close contact with chocolate, nuts and all goodie thingies!!! She is very strict on the choice of the quality of the products she uses for her recipes and she only uses the Cruz of cocoa and chocolates.
After the chocolate tasting we get to sip also on some hot chocolate, a particular recipe which Mariangela has developed from an old 1700s recipe by Carlo Goldoni, the famous Venetian gourmet playwriter, and which contains no milk, but it is made of a concussion of cocoa, water, sugar and spices. Thick, delicious, filling but not sickly sweet. Perfetta!
Struggling to get the bloggers out of the shop, I finally drag them all out and guide them over Rialto Bridge heading for Campo Santa Margherita, the area for our next stop.
After a slow but enjoyable walk, we finally arrive at our destination in Calle San Pantalon: El Sbarlefo, a lovely bacaro aka wine bar, aka hole in the wall.
Oysters and Prosecco at El Sbarlefo!
It is run by Alessandro, Andrea and Lorenzo, a trio of young Venetian men, who own also another branch in Calle del Pistor near Campo Degli Apostoli.
On our arrival we are greeted by Andrea who immediately starts us off with a nice glass of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, much needed after such an eventful day.
We start to relax and realize that we have all the place to ourselves! Great, we can make as much noise as we want! And then the food starts appearing, beginning with huge trays of fresh oysters, which gets all washed down with lots of glasses of Prosecco!
It is then the turn of the beautiful raw Scampi, directly from the Rialto Market and freshly caught in our Venetian lagoon. Andrea then brings along another tray of very local Venetian fish: a trio of carpaccio, composed of octopus and celery, tuna and swordfish.
We are then delighted by the arrival of the King of Venice: the baccalà. Andrea surprise us with three versions of the so much loved dried cod: baccalà mantecato, a creamy mousse, baccalà in umido, cooked with tomato sauce and baccalà alla cappuccina, boiled and marinated with garlic, olive oil and parsley – all served on squares of white polenta.
King of Venice – the baccalà by Vivo Venetia
By now we are totally full and we much appreciate the bottle of Pinot Grigio Doc which arrives quickly to our tables. But the feast is not finished and soon Andrea brings along another tray full of Sarde in Saor and rolls of smoked salmon stuffed with Robiola Cheese. When he is satisfied that we have finished everything, he give us the coup de grâce and brings to the table a tray full of fried scallops and marinated sardines.
After this, we all struggle to get up and stand up straight, due to the large glasses of wines we drank and the huge amount of food we just ate. Arghhhh, the hard life of food and travel bloggers! You know, it is a hard sacrifice we are happy to endure it for you readers!
A Taste of Venice Bloggers at El Sbarlefo – end of day 1
So Day 1 of A Taste of Venice Blog Tour has come to an end: I send all my lovely bloggers back to their accommodation and wish them all a good night!
Have a good rest girls, tomorrow is Day 2 and you have no idea what is waiting for you!!!!
A Taste of Venice Food & Travel Blog Tour – 1st Edition
Crispy blue skies in Venice by Depietrijojo
January 2016: a nice sunny morning in Venice. Crispy, few clouds and not even that cold. This has been the setting for the beginning of the 1st edition of A Taste of Venice Food & Travel Blog tour.
After rallying around town collecting the group of bloggers which, for the next 4 days, will be following us in the discovery of the real Venice, we all gathered in Ca Dello Squero 1 and Ca Dello Squero 2, two lovely modern and fully furnished 3 bedroom apartments in the Zattere area, kindly offered by Views On Venice, one of our two accommodation partners – the other accommodation was offered by Biennale Apartments, a lovely 3 bedroom apartment in Castello, near Giardini.
The apartments, overlooking the Squero of San Trovaso (the location where they make gondolas) housed part of our group of bloggers during all the event, giving them plenty of opportunities to view with their own eyes from their windows the gondola makers at work through out the day.
Gondole in San Trovaso
After a quick check-in, we all sat in the lovely and comfortable living room of Ca Dello Squero 1 and started our presentation. Monica Cesarato (the writer of this article), owner of Cook In Venice, organizers of cooking classes and food tours in Venice, and Francesca of Vivo Venetia, start-up dedicated to the discovery of real Venetian artisans and authentic activities in Venice, founded by Cècile Rousset, introduced the bloggers to A Taste of Venice Food & Travel Blog tour and the program and activities which will take place from 12th till 15th January 2016.
The hashtags for the events were also presented: #atasteofvenice and #vivovenetia.
The program of the blog tour was packed with all different events, geared to bring to the attention of the bloggers and their public a side of Venice relatively still unknown, the Venice which lives through winter, the Venice which is being reborn thanks to its people, its artisans and all those who love her.
The Real Venice by Depietrijojo
Below is the program – in the next few days we will write in details day by day how the tour went, what the bloggers saw and experienced, how our sponsors reacted!
A TASTE OF VENICE FOOD & TRAVEL BLOG TOUR 2016
Chocolate Tasting at Vizio Virtu
Arrival of participants by 14.00 and accommodation check-in in Apartments by Views on Venice in Zattere #viewsonvenice
and Biennale Apartments in Castello #biennaleapartments
14.30: Welcome and introduction with detailed program of the blog tour.