I’m going to say something that I know most of you probably won’t like. I didn’t really rate Venice. I was pretty excited to visit but I hated the feeling of being in a tourist trap. I hated the way I couldn’t seem to escape the hot summer sun beating down on me as I got more and more lost in the twisting streets. I hated getting lost every. single. time.
I am also willing to concede that first impressions are often wrong. So i’ve picked out the few things I really enjoyed while staying in Venice and thought i’d save some space in my head and my heart for a second visit. First up is the necessary pilgrimage to Harry’s Bar to have a Bellini with the ghost of Hemingway. I know that I just complained about being in a tourist trap but this one the one overpriced experience that I was willing to be a part of.
The exterior was so unassuming that I wasn’t actually sure we were there. It did seem like the kind of hidden bar that someone like Hemingway would want to hide in. Trust the Venetians to have sweet security bars on their windows though.
Harry’s Bar was opened in 1931 by bartender Giuseppe Cipriani after he was lent some money by a wealthy American, Harry Pickering after whom the bar is named. The interior of the bar reminded me of a salty seafarers haunt with the dark wood and low ceilings. Despite being surrounded by tourists, I could imagine the ghosts of rough bearded men in worn, cable knits and canvas pants, their elbows heavy on the tables as they filled up before their next voyage. That’s probably not at all how it was, but it’s how it all played out in my mind!
The signature drink at Harry’s Bar is the Bellini, made of peach nectar and prosecco and is lovely and sweet and refreshing. Apparently Cipriani named it after a painting by Giovanni Bellini because he thought the colour reminded him of a toga worn by one of the subjects. One of these will set you back more euros than you want to spend but I had budgeted for this particular expense. Also, the olives that came as part of the apperitivo were huge and briney. Delicious! Unfortunately, they didn’t replenish the olives like they do in most bars. I think this is because
1. they’re a bit tight
2. it’s actually quite a small venue and they want to move people through quickly
So we came, we drank, we soaked in the atmosphere and we left with lighter wallets. I enjoyed the experience but I can see why many would baulk at the expense. If you’re a fan of Hemingway though, it’s probably worth a visit. (Wikipedia will tell you there were a host of other famous people who frequented Harry’s but Hemingway was the only one I was really interested in. Sorry!)
Calle Vallaresso 1323
30124 San Marco
Open: Daily 10.30am – 11.00pm