November 1


10 Spots Local Venetians Love

By Rick

November 1, 2018

When in Venice, it’s difficult to identify the spots that Venetians love because the city is basically one giant maze with dead ends around every corner. It helps to know a local, that’s for sure.

I met Shannon Kenny a few years back during a blogging conference. After that meeting, we followed up via email, social media, and our websites to share our thoughts on traveling in Italy with Children. I was a new dad at the time, and her advice was quite helpful to me.

Nowadays she has an exciting new project, the Prontopia app, which allows visitors to connect with a friendly local in Venice (as well as Florence and Rome) for in-person help getting where they need to go in the city and discovering local places along the way.

I love Venice, as does anyone who has spent any length of time that impossible floating city. But one thing is for sure: it is EASY to get lost. I mean really lost, like stuck in a labyrinth for hours on end. What’s more, it’s just as easy to get suck into hyper-touristy spots with no hope of escape. Don’t let that happen to you, as it will spoil your relationship with this magical place.

Instead, go where the locals go. And that’s where Shannon and her new app come into play. For a nice preview, here she is to introduce you to The Queen of the Adriatic; La Serenissima.

Spots Local Venetians Love

The city of Venice is divided into 6 “sestiere,” or neighborhoods, each with its own character. Although it only takes maximum 30-40 minutes to walk from end to end of Venice, the majority percentage of visitors never make it to the more local sestieri such as Cannaregio or Castello, where daily life and the living culture of local Venetians can still be experienced.

Venice’s culture and cuisine is as lively today as it was in history, and visitors to Venice will have a richer experience visiting some of the destinations cherished and frequented by Venetians. Consider checking out some of these 10 spots Venetians love during your visit to Venice, and surely you will leave feeling you are a little bit Venetian yourself, and likely will have made some new local friends.

Where to eat, where to meet friends for a drink, where to enjoy live music, what to do on a sunny day, what to do on a rainy day, these are the questions Venetians consider in their daily life in the city!


  1. La Zucca in the local neighborhood of Santa Croce is a fond favorite among Venetians (Santa Croce 1539, tel. 041 524 1570), and is especially famous for its delicious pumpkin flan. This is not necessarily a typical Venetian dish, but nevertheless at La Zucca you will find a nice mix of modern and traditional fresh, local, seasonal cuisine. The inside is very cozy, and it also has charming outdoor seating near the canal, it’s not very expensive, and it’s great for a romantic dinner. The wine list is excellent, too.
  2. Osteria Ai Promessi Sposi (Calle dell’Oca 4367, tel +39 041 241 2747) is an unassuming place with a popular osteria for dinner, and bottega in the front for a glass of wine and “cicchetto” a Venetian aperitivo light bite in Cannaregio. It is beloved among Venetians for its perfectly classic menu of local favorites, top among them its spaghetti al nero di seppia (spaghetti with squid ink). The location is quaint and cozy, located in a small calle near Campo Santi Apostoli. Prices are reasonable, and for a simple bite you can enjoy cicchetti and vino at the bottega in the front.


  1. The local Venetian tradition of enjoying cicchetti and “un’ombra di vino” (a taste of wine) for aperitivo hour is a social institution in Venice tied also to an appreciation of local food and wine. Osteria al Portego (Calle De La Malvasia, 6014-6015) is a popular local spot among Venetian for cicchetti that is near Piazza San Marco  and Rialto while at the same time absolutely local (it’s just very hard to find!). Crowd in among the locals to the bar and counter to order wine or a spritz and cicchetti, such as the famous sarde in saor (sweet and sour baccala served on polenta or bread). In the hidden piazza outside Venetains stand around wine barrels functioning as simple tables.
  2. Al Timon Fish and Al Timon Meat at Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754, are two partner restaurants, one serving Venetian seafood favorites, and one with a simple menu of roast meats served on family style on a cutting platter with a selection of vegetables and potatoes. Al Timon is also among the most famous place for locals for cicchetti, both because of its location on the Fondamenta della Misericrodia, a popular local area for cicchetti bars, as well as the ambiance and menu, as patrons can enjoy “uno spritz” along the canal, or even on the boat at “Al Timon” docked canalside in front of the restaurant.


5.Fondamenta della Misericordia is also a popular destination for local nightlife. If you enjoy jazz, you will love Paradiso Perduto, on the Fondamenta della Misericordia in Cannaregio — it is a cozy osteria and jazz club hosting various live music performers every Monday evening. The events book up quickly, so it is necessary to reserve in advance if you would like to attend both dinner and the show. Otherwise, you can arrive after dinner just for the music!

  1. Il Mercante is a recently opened cocktail bar specialized in specialty “mixology” drinks, located in the charming local area front of the Basilica dei Frari in the sestiere of San Polo. If you’re a fan of unique specialty cocktails, you will enjoy imbibing while enjoying a good Jazz Concert. Il Mercante has live performers every Thursday night from September until June.
  2. Teatro La Fenice (San Marco 1965) is Venice’s historical opera house founded in Venice 1792. Today it is recognized as one of the most important theaters in the history of Italian culture. If you like opera, you should definitely book your ticket at La Fenice to enjoy such classics as Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata or Rossini’s The Barber of Seville! La Fenice also hosts other classical music events, dance performances by principal companies, and symphonies. The acoustics at La Fenice theater are among the most famous in the world.


  1. Visit Ca’ Pesaro museum to enjoy amazing contemporary works of art by Klimt, Kandinsky, and Matisse as well as an Oriental Art Exhibition. The quiet canal-side cafe in the Ca’ Pesaro museum is also a local favorite for a special coffee or a snack. It is a nice spot to view a traditional palazzo in Venice and experience epic architecture, while also understanding Venice’s connection with Asia, since the rise of its city and all its splendor!
  2. To warm up with some culture and cuisine, cozy in for a hot chocolate at Sulla Luna bistro along the Fondamenta della Misericordia, in Cannaregio. Sulla Luna also has a nice bookstore to browse in the cafe, with fun graphic novels. It is also great for kids in Venice!

Fondamenta Misericordia Venice


  1. The Fondamenta delle Zattere is a favorite place among Venetians for a stroll or for watching the sunset because it is typically sunny and has a long open promenade for walks with many nice local cafès and restaurants with a view. It is also a popular spot for runners in Venice. One of the most cherished local venues on the Zattere is Bar da Nico, known as among the best spots for gelato in Venice, especially for the flavor gianduiotto topped with homemade whipped cream.


Shannon Kenny is founder and CEO of the Prontopia app, which allows visitors to connect with a friendly local in Venice, Florence, or Rome, for on-demand or pre-scheduled in-person help getting where they need to go in the city and discovering local places along the way.

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About the author

Living in the Caput Mundi and trying to decipher Italian culture for the English speaking world.

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