Skye McAlpine knows her way around Venice. Having lived in the iconic Italian city for more than 25 years, the food writer, cook and blogger is as close to Venetian as you can get (although she was originally born in the UK). To celebrate the release of her new exquisite new book A Table In Venice we asked her to share her favourite spots for an unforgettable day in this magical town.
8am - breakfast at Pasticceria Rizzardini
Standing room only, I love everything about this little old fashioned bar - from the bottles of Aperol and Campari that line the walls to the wonderfully retro wood paneling. Not least of all: the cakes and freshly baked breakfast pastries, which are some of the best in Venice. Have a cappuccino and a brioche (kind of like a croissant but bread-ier and filled with sweet apricot jam) then make your way through the back streets to the Rialto Market (no more than a ten minute leisurely walk away).
9am - Rialto Market
This is where Venetians do most of their shopping: a dream for anyone who enjoys food, you will see everything from baby artichokes to ruby red radicchio piled high on the stalls like a Caravaggio painting. The fish market is brimming with history and local charm, as much as it is the fresh catch of the day. Stop off at La Casa Del Parmigiano (the best cheese shop in Venice), brave the queues and buy a chunk of saffron scented pecorino cheese to take home with you; then walk through to Mascari, a charming family-run spice shop, where they sell glacé fruits and a cornucopia of fabulous Italian sweets (many in equally fabulous packaging), as well as homemade jasmine petal jam and pistachio butter (to die for - and a wonderful gift to take home).
11am Cicheti at Al’Arco
After exploring the market, head to All’Arco for a late morning spritz and a few cicheti (Venetian small bites). Tiny and bustling, with standing room at the bar and a couple of tables for perching at outside - this is a wonderfully Venetian experience, with the best local gossip served behind the bar as well as the best cicheti. The menu varies each day depending on what is in season and what’s for sale at the market, but expect some kind of crostini (perhaps topped with a seafood crudo) and scrumptious polpette (meatballs rolled in golden breadcrumbs).
1pm Lunch at Rosa Salva
For lunch, make your way through to Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, one of the prettiest squares in Venice, and stop off at Rosa Salva for a tramezzino. Sit under the shade, outdoors in the square, and have a tramezzino: a Venetian tradition of sorts, these are sandwiches made with the softest white, crustless bread and a decadent mayonnaise-y filling (artichoke and prosciutto is my particular favourite), to die for!
3pm Visit the Biennale
After lunch walk through the Castello quarter (one of the more residential and unexplored parts of the city) and make your way to the Architectural Biennale. Set in the Giardini, Venice’s only park, the exhibition is open until November with each country featuring its own show in its own pavilion. Take your time wandering around and then head to the rooftop of the British Pavilion for breathtaking views over the lagoon and an iced tea.
7pm Dinner at Al Covo
A short walk from the Biennale, this is one of my favourite restaurants in Venice, both for the food (the best deep fried zucchini flowers have ever had - and the very best ricotta cake in town) and the welcoming charm of the owners, Diane and Cesare.
9pm See the Grand Canal from the water
After dinner, hop on the number 1 vaporetto (waterbus) or you could treat yourself to a private water taxi (though beware, they are pricey) and ride all the way up the Grand Canal: there is nothing quite like enjoying Venice from the water at night.
Skye’s top tips for a memorable Venetian getaway
1. Walk everywhere and don’t be afraid to get lost. You see the best of Venice when you get lost.
2. Every time you walk past a church and it’s open, pop in. There is likely a stunning Bellini or Titian hidden away in there for you to see.
3. If you take a water taxi, make sure to settle on the price before you set off on your journey, as they don’t run on the meter.
For a slice of Venice at home check out Skye’s beautiful new book A Table In Venice (Bloomsbury) out now.
All pictures courtesy of Skye McAlpine