The Bacaro and the “ombra di vino”

The Venetian word bàcaro derives its name from Bacchus or from bacche (Italian word for “grapes“). The Venetian expression “far bàcara” means celebrating in the name of Bacchus. It’s just like this, on the euphoric trail of the good wine (“bon vin”), that the typical Venetian osterie were born. In the past, the term designated a cheap tavern for humble people: both good and bad wines were served, together with cicchetti. Cicchetti are appetizers, such as small anchovies, half an egg, or other fishes, especially fried, the classic pitted olives filled with a little slice of sweet pepper, the tripe, the spleen. Today the bàcaro is living a new life, as it has been transformed into a bar where you can find almost anything: fried baccalà (salted codfish), sun-dried tomatoes in oil, olives, baked cuttlefish, toasted bread with creamy baccalà, meatballs, arancini, octopus, nerves with onions, beans, prawns or mazzancolle sticks. The right time to enjoy a visit to a bàcaro is just before noon, when everything comes fresh out of the kitchen, or in the evening, since many dishes keep on being prepared throughout the day.

A glass of wine in Venice

Venetians are used to making the giro d’ombra, which means going for taverns (bacari) to drink glasses of wines with friends in a convivial and laid back mood. Legend has it that in the past the wine was served directly by street vendors in San Marco square. They used to follow the shadow of the bell tower to keep the wine cool. And that’s the origin of the common term “bere un’ombra di vino” (literally “drinking a shadow of wine”). Bere un’ombra di vino is a social ceremony, a declaration of friendship and solidarity that renews itself day by day, hour after hour.