With their blackened beams and rickety wooden tables, bacari (emphasis on the first syllable) are local bars, often hidden down backstreets or in quiet campielli. These establishments – Al Portego, Ca’ d’Oro, All’Arco, Alla Ciurma and Bottega ai Promessi Sposi are fine examples – serve alcohol and snacks (cicheti) to market traders, workers and students from early morning onwards, and cater for Venetians on a giro di bacari (pub crawl) at aperitivo time.
They may have a dark room out the back with scant seating, but dominating the front of the premises is a high glass-fronted bar counter piled with cicheti. The drink of choice is the ombra, a small glass of house wine, which is usually priced at around €1, but you’ll find beer and spirits, too. The most famous and most down-to-earth of Venice’s bacari is Da Lele, situated near Piazzale Roma in the back streets of Santa Croce. A drink here – don’t ask for a coffee as it isn’t served – will give you an unrivalled insight into local workaday Venice.