Cafe Life Venice is A Guidebook to the Cafes and Bacari of La Serenissima, written by Joe Wolff, photography by Roger Paperno, and published by Interlink Books, Northampton, Massachusetts in 2009.
In the style of his previous “Cafe Life” books about Rome and Florence, the intention of the author was to provide a selection of outstanding cafes across the breadth of Venice, focusing on family-owned and operated enterprises, “to help you refuel during your wanderings or when you get lost”. Of course, one of the key goals for visitors to Venice is to “get lost”, and finding excellent food and beverages with great people in special surroundings is a very important part of life, so the concepts behind creation of the book were attractive to me!
Like many books about Venice, Cafe Life Venice is divided into a chapter per Siestre, for Cannaregio (4 places), San Marco (5), Dorsoduro (2), San Polo (5) and Santa Croce (1). Strangely, Castello is missing! The types of “cafe” are varied, from gelateria through osteria, trattoria, pasticceria, barcara, to torrefazione (coffee roasting house).
Wolff’s talks with owners brought family and cafe histories, the content, history and preparation of Venetian foods ranging from pasticci through cicchetti (little snacks) and tramezzini (small sandwiches) to the entire range of la cucina tipica Veneziana, and of course, dolci (dessert)
Along the way, the author segues into historical insights about cafe locations, the rigor of become a master at the food arts, background information on more than fifty pastries and other culinary delights, and tangental stories from Venetian history that enliven the text and fit into cafe conversation quite well!
The book has a reasonable location map, a good listing of cafe addresses and contact information, and very useful route-finding directions to get you to Wolff’s favorite places.
When you arrive, soon armed with your morning caffe and fritelle, your luncheon cicchetti and ombra rosso, or your evening sarde in saor and Soave, stay awhile and also enjoy great conversation with your hosts! A little espresso, dolci, limoncello or grappa may cap your evening.
This little book is a worthy addition to your Venice library, a compelling reminder of the pleasure of wandering back to your favorite bacaro in the afternoon for a refreshing spritz and a little more warm hospitality and conversation…