Cicchetti: The story behind Venice’s famous bar snacks

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(CNN) – “Sichetti is the glue that holds Venice together,” says mask maker Sergio Boldrin. Bottega dei Mascareri. “On the way home, without having a drink and snacks, meeting friends, it is impossible to think of finishing work without paying attention to the news of the day.”

Ask Venetian to define cichetti and you will find as many answers as there are varieties of tasty finger food. In Venice, a town on foot or by boat, staging on a sichetti while drinking a glass of wine called Ombra and chatting with friends at a bar called Bekaro is a basic part of life in Venice.

Sichetti can contain everything from sea creatures wrapped in toothpicks and fried meatballs called polpett to colorful toppings spread on slices of baguette called crostini – and that’s just for starters. Traditionally, you eat it while standing at the bar or just outside the door. The main thing is the ritual of having a drink and snack in the reception setting – this is not street food to eat while walking around the city.

Cicchetti is cheaper, costing about € 1 – € 5 ($ 1.10 – $ 5.50) depending on the ingredients. Every Sichetto is as creative as the person who invents it, which makes going to Giro de Ombre – the lazy crawl – an opportunity to taste the spirit of Venice.

Like many Venetian traditions, the actual cichetti eaten by the locals has changed over the decades, but the rituals remain the same. In Italian, the word “ombra” means shadow or shade; “Ombre” is plural. According to legend, centuries ago, sellers in St. Mark’s Square sold wine following the shade of the Campanile (giant Beltower) with their carts to keep the wine cool. The result? The expression “un’ombra di vino” or “shadow of wine.”

Venetians do not like to drink on an empty stomach, so “cichetti” was born, believed to come from the Latin “siks” which means “small amount.” Early offerings were plain morsels like hard boiled eggs topped with boiled octopus or anchovies. Establishments called “bakery” developed to serve Ombre and Sichetti, inspired by the Old Venetian expression for “away bakara” or “to celebrate” – a term that may itself have evolved from the Roman god of bacchus, wine and pleasure. .

At Rialto, the one-time headquarters of international trade at the foot of the world-famous bridge, merchants conducted their business in the shadow of the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto (locally known as San Giacomato), next to Banco Giro. Revolving credit bank. Sichetti, washed by Ombra, was a type of fast food that was eaten by merchants to complete business quickly and stand on their feet when there was no time to lose. Or so the story goes.

Tuna and Coco Sichetti

Stanley went in search of Sichetti in Tucci "Search for Italy."

Stanley Tucci “in search of Italy” in search of Sichetti.


The kaleidoscope-filled glass display case of sliced ​​baguettes is stained with foreign toppings. Shiawi In the district of Dorsoduro. Also known as “Bottegon”, Barry began his career as a wine seller in the late 19th century. In addition to dozens of fresh cichetti, it serves about 25 wines by the glass and sells hundreds of bottles from the Veneto region, including wines from local aristocratic colonies. You’ll see owner Alessandra de Respinis behind the counter every morning, chatting with her customers as she prepares her delicious snacks.

When de Respinis’ father-in-law, Sisto Gestaldi, took over in 1945, there were plenty of ombre, but the only cicheti offered was pickled onions with anchovies, mortadella and green peppers and hard boiled eggs. De Respinis began working in Chiavi in ​​1970 after Sisto’s death, and her husband, Lino Gestaldi, set foot in her father’s shoes. Expansion of Shiavi’s Sichetti menu became his life’s mission and he began exploring his own tasty marsalas with a glass of wine.

De Respinis cut fresh, crispy baguettes into bite-sized pieces that you can eat with two fingers. Tuna and leek, and gorgonzola and walnut are at the top of its early compositions. She found her rhythm, her imagination fueled by seasonal elements. She experimented with mixing and matching colors and flavors, discovering new sicheti eaten by locals.

Now in her seventies, De Respinis has a team of offspring providing assistance, but she still works every day until noon. She has created about 70 different specialties, including her award-winning tartere de tonno e cocoa: egg yolk, mixed with capers, mayonnaise and parsley, then sprinkled with bitter cocoa.

De Respinis says, “My aim is always to serve fresh food.” “At the end of the day, we offer the last customers what is left over, or eat it ourselves.”

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‘Sichetti was a humble food’

The modern cichetti - layered baguette slices with toppings - is believed to have been invented by Alessandra de Respinis.

The modern cichetti – layered baguette slices with toppings – is believed to have been invented by Alessandra de Respinis.


“There’s no such thing in Venice anymore!” Franco Filipi, 73, roars. “The last real Bakaro closed in 1980.”

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Philippi is owned by Libraria Aditris Philippi, a bookshop specializing in all Venetian affairs and the city’s oldest publishing house. He traces his family’s origins to Venice in 1340. He has no television and has spent 40 years trying to understand the mysterious Renaissance book “Hypnerotomachia polyphilis” published by Aldo Manuzio in Venice in 1499. Great thinkers for centuries.

When it comes to Sichetti, Philippi is an old-fashioned purist. In fact, he recently published a book by Sandro Brandolisio, entitled “Cichéti” (Venetian spelling), which featured recipes made by goats in the 1950s and ’60s.

“Sichetti was a humble food made from spinach, spleen, or trippa risa, trip – no part of the animal perishes,” says Philippi. “It was made by the wife and sold by the husband and son. When we went to Giro de Ombre, it was because Maria made the best meatball on Tuesday, and Sophia made the best octopus on Wednesday. But that’s all. The bakeries have disappeared. ”

Today there are hundreds of places to eat in the bakery of Venice and the scissors scattered in Austria, but Philippi is firm. “Krostini – spreading the topping on a piece of bread – is not a cichetti!”

Where (second) chitchati eat

Today, there are numerous schisms on offer.

Today, there are numerous schisms on offer.


In the San Polo District, wander through Cali on the west side of the Rialto Bridge, and you’ll stumble upon many fine goats serving Cicheti rice in various incarnations. Despite Philippi’s announcements, Crostini is ubiquitous, and it seems that Alessandra de Respinis’ recipes at Chiavi may have inspired many goats to follow his lead, adorning the baguette piece with creative inventions.

Small All’Arco There is always a jam from the locals. Playing in the background is the musical sound of Venetian sounds that flow like water flowing in a lagoon. There are dozens of fresh croissants constantly changing depending on the season, from shrimp to prostitutes and everything in between, as well as small tables outside to enjoy.
Cantina du Spade It dates back to around 1488 and was one of Casanova’s oldest residences – his erotic memoirs, in Chapter 17 of “A Story of My Life”, tell the story of how he and seven of his friends lured a young married woman back. Du Spade’s Room during the Carnival of 1745. You can join the revalers in a call for meatballs or grilled squid, or sit down to eat at a wooden table inside.

On the front street is an even older cantina do mori, founded in 1462, which Casanova also claims to be a former regular. Here you will find local Venetian crowds and folk who do business in the area with crowds of tourists, and no seats except a handful of stools. Dark wooden interiors evoke antiquity, offering a good selection of classic cichetti and wine.

According to tradition, Venice was born on the afternoon of March 25, 421 CE, at the foot of the Rialto Bridge in Campo San Giacomo. The five bistros – Austria Banks Giro, Ancora, Austria El Pasador, Caf વે Vergano’s 1882 Rialto and Naranzaria – share a prime location like a large living room, where you can stand in the campo for a side meal or pay more to sit. Looking at one table and the Grand Canal on the other. They all serve different types of cicheti. Banco Giro has evolved from a 17th-century bank into a 21st-century Austria, and is distinguished by its fluffy homemade Bekla Montekato, a Venetian standard made from Norwegian stockfish, spread over creamed and crostini.

Michelin-starred Sichetti

From gourmet or bar, cichetti is made with love.

From gourmet or bar, cichetti is made with love.


Restaurant local Traditional Venetian food is intended to advance in the future. Together with his dedicated team, the 36-year-old owner, Benedetta Fulin, took Venetian cuisine to rockstar level and earned a Michelin star for her efforts. The local interior was crafted by a selection of local artisans and offers only a tasting menu. But that menu starts with the ever-changing Cichetti, inspired by the availability of fresh, local ingredients.

From the shadows of the ancient Campanile, to the humble kitchens of the 1950s, to the exploratory crustaceans of the 1970s, to the “New Venetian cuisine” of the 21st century, Sichetti is constantly evolving but has one thing in common: it is made by Venetians. With friendship and love.

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