Taste & Travel - - Destinations -

It’s late af­ter­noon when our group steps ashore at Bauer Palazzo Ho­tel af­ter a spe­cial gon­dola ser­e­nade through the canals of Venice. With the sun glint­ing off the Basil­ica of Santa Maria della Salute, it seems the per­fect time for a cic­chetti (tapas) tour in the Vene­tian tra­di­tion. One of the best cic­chetti crawls cen­tres around Campo Casare Bat­tista near Rialto Bridge. At Rialto Mar­ket, I watch ven­dors trim ar­ti­chokes into rounds called fondi, im­mers­ing the white discs in acidu­lated wa­ter to pre­vent dis­coloura­tion. Veg­etable stalls brim with Car­ciofi de Sant Erasmo, small pur­ple ar­ti­chokes shaped like pussy wil­lows on a stem. At An­cora wine bar, I pair an Aperol spritz with a salad of ar­ti­chokes served carpac­cio style.

An­other turn around the mar­ket takes me to Cantina Do Spade, an at­mo­spheric wa­ter­ing hole that dates back to 1754 when it of­fered hos­pi­tal­ity to mer­chants and Silk Road traders. There on the cic­chetti menu be­tween the sarde in saor (fried sar­dines with sweet onion) and code di rospo alla grigua (fried monk­fish tail) are two types of ar­ti­chokes. I hap­pily order both and sit at a bar­rel ta­ble where I sip Cyg­nar, a bit­ter ar­ti­choke­based aper­i­tif cre­ated by Vene­tian en­tre­pre­neur An­gelo Dalle Molle in 1952. I savour my fi­nal ar­ti­chokes of the trip and con­tem­plate a spring jour­ney which, while ad­mit­tedly not as rig­or­ous as those of Vene­tian trav­ellers such as Marco Polo, has been no less re­ward­ing.

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