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Digital Subscriptions > Italia! > Jun 2019 > Giro d’Ombre

Giro d’Ombre

A cicchetti and wine tour of Venice
Clockwise from left: The Antica Osteria Ruga Rialto, one of our favourite places; we often come here before lunch and end up staying; sunset over the Arsenale
Images by Iain Reid uunless otherwise stated

The Giro d’Ombre is the Venetian equivalent of a pub crawl. Needless to say, this being Italy, there is plenty of food to enjoy along the way. Venice native Sara Scarpa is your guide…

We were standing at the bar enjoying a plate filled with some baccalà mantecato (dried salt cod), a few polpette (fried meatballs) and some sardee en saor (sweet and sour sardines), to be washed down with an ombra de vin (a ‘shadow’, or small glass, of wine). The place was relatively quiet as it was still too early for a sit-down lunch, but the atmosphere was friendly and cosy.

We were chatting to the hospitable owner and to a charming local Venetian painter, one of their regulars, who was sitting at the bar on his own. I suspect this has been his seat for many a year. Our conversation touched on wine, took in the do’s and don’ts of meatballs, skirted around the cruise ships that descend on the city – and ended up with a discussion of art! We were provided with a quick insight into the artist’s work by viewing his paintings on the owner’s iPad and, in the end, we showed so much interest in his art work that we received an invitation to see it first hand in his studio.

Interesting encounters like this are one of the reasons I love to frequent these places. So many pleasant conversations take place in the many osterias across Venice, and for me this is one of the true remaining experiences of Venice – the scale of the history, the scandals and espionage that have taken place in such hostelries, really fire the senses. Unlike the infamous casinos, which have mostly fallen into a forgotten past or have been incorporated as deluxe hotels, many of the osterias, though they may have changed in name, have generally stood on the same sites for centuries, just like the churches that adorn the city.

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About Italia!

The June issue of Italia! comes to you ready to inspire and inform. Crammed with travel features, stunning photography and delicious helpings of Italian food and drink, it’s a celebration of il bel paese right at your fingertips.