A Local’s Guide to Venice is part of a series collaboration with Spotted by Locals Venice

Venice needs few introductions. The old Italian city, with its picturesque waterways, ancient buildings and romantic atmosphere features in millions of bucket lists, European tours and on countless cheap plastic souvenirs. It’s a city that over the years has become synonymous with mass tourism (and, more recently, anti-tourism) and increasing concerns that it will sink into the lagoon it’s built on under the weight of its own fame.

Thankfully, there are still places left even in the centre of Venice that haven’t succumbed to the incessant waves of mass tourism—bastions of a way of life one might think had disappeared already. The city’s locals invite us to discover these spots over an aperitivo.

Venice Local's Food Guide

Campiello Remer: Traditional flavors in the city centre

Taverna del Campiello Remer is hidden between several calli, making it less than straightforward to reach despite its proximity to Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal. The reward? Sampling typical Venetian fare without getting too far from the edge of the water, and taking in the beautiful and secluded location itself. This square, once famous for the small businesses located here that made gondola oars, has another, spookier secret: legend has it that, while overlooking the Grand Canal, you may catch sight of the body of a man emerging from the waves holding the head of a woman who was beheaded there.

Venice Local's Food Guide

Birreria Forst: A break for beer and tramezzini

This historical, rustic locale that’s been right on Piazza San Marco since after WWII is said to have the best tramezzini (sandwiches) in Venice, along with a wide selection of quality beers, hence the name. Still, one of the funnest parts of sitting at Birreria Forst are the numerous gondoliers coming inside for a little break from work that always ensures a vibrant atmosphere. It’s an oasis in the heart of the tourist trap desert.

Venice Local's Food Guide

Campo Erberia – High waters, high spirits

Campo Erberia is one of the most important spots for Venice’s nightlife. Facing the Grand Canal, the far side of this campo is lined by walkways covering numerous bars and restaurants that are perfect for a quick spritz. On the opposite side, the rafts tied in front of the Canal are ideal for admiring the Rialto Bridge and are brimming with people at night, but the real highlight of this spot is the acqua alta phenomenon: when the water level rises, the campo disappears under the tide, and the resulting effect is that of a lake surrounded by buildings.

Venice Local's Food Guide

Osteria al Squero: Crostini across the gondola dockyard

Tiny, quiet Osteria al Squero in Zattere serves delicious and inexpensive crostini like with sarde in saor (sardines cooked with onions and raisins), stockfish, salmon, pink pepper and lemon, tuna and olives, or bacon and mushroom sauce. What truly sets it apart and makes it a local favourite, however, is the view over the San Trovaso squero, a gondola ‘dockyard’ where the iconic boats are constructed and repaired, making it an ideal setting for a relaxed bite, drink and chat.

Venice Local's Food Guide

Ai Biliardi: The Venice that never sleeps

Venice’s nightlife isn’t exactly what you would call wild—very few places stay open late. They do exist, however, and one of them is Ai Biliardi, a pool bar that’s open most days until sunrise. The old, dusty sofas, the two pool tables, the table football and the smoking room make this bar feel like it’s half a world away from the popular romantic stereotypes the city’s mass tourism lives on. Nevertheless, its atmosphere, live concerts, surprising variety of clientele and truly underground spirit have something of Venice’s festive and wild ancient spirit that first made it famous centuries ago.

Venice Local's Food Guide

Osteria da Filo: A popular gem

Best known as La Poppa, this bar is a local favourite and an obligatory stop for many a Venetian’s night out. The soft lights, wooden furniture, free bread and daily dip, as well as the cheap drinks are part of it of course, but the concerts, board games, performances and other cultural events really complete the picture—not to mention the signature chicheto, the eggplant balls, or the piano that’s freely available to play by all. Many addicted locals agree: Osteria da Filo is simply one of the best bars in Venice.

A Local’s Guide to Venice photos courtesy of Ai Biliardi, Filippo Muraro, Annamaria Bergamo, and Cipputiblog.

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