In Venice we found ‘the Spritz of place’ a most tangible (and tasty) bit of identity.
You couldn’t miss it.
The bright orange drink, served in stemmed wine or short stout water glasses, was being consumed it seemed everywhere we went.
Neither the time of day nor the location - sidewalk cafes or standing at the counter of a neighborhood bar – had any bearing on consumption.
So it seemed fitting on our first evening in Venice to do start researching this beautiful beverage. With a medley of Johnnie Cash’s mournful songs wailing from its speakers, we settled in for sunset-watching along the Guidecca Canal at Al Chioscchetto bar.
The popular spot is a small kiosk from where drinks and sandwiches are served to those sitting at its scattering of waterside tables. It was here we had our first taste of this nectar-like aperitif; the Venetian Spritz; a drink so popular that it has been called “The National Drink of Venice”.
One Facebook page claims that it ‘not a drink, but a way of life.’ Another says that sipping one at this bar is a great way to stare in compania, hang out and blend in. So that’s what we did until Aqcua Alta forced closure of this bar and we enjoyed our daily tradition elsewhere.
One of the favorite parts of our stare in compania at this place, however, was watching Keo, the ‘bar dog’ as he greeted and was adored by patrons and passersby:
But even he had to take a break and enjoy an aperitif:
The ‘spritz of place’ story doesn’t end there though. . .
. . .I’d been researching the drink for this blog post when I came across the mention of a fund-raising project at Guidecca, the women’s prison that was tied to the drink . . .
. . . the screen printing and sale of canvas ‘Spritz bags’.
In addition to the production of these bags, inmates tend an organic vegetable garden within the prison’s walls and sell their produce, outside the walls, each Thursday on Fondementa della Convertite. They’ve created a line of toiletries and lotions, some of which use the plants grown in their garden. They also run a laundry for a local hotel. Inmates generate income and also develop job skills during their incarceration, all of which sound like a recipe for success to me.
Speaking of recipes, here are some variations of the drink recipes printed on the back of the bag:
Campari, bitter, or Aperol is the key ingredient in this yummy drink . The orange one – our favorite -- is made with Aperol and the recipe on the back of its bottles calls for three parts Prosecco,(that bubbly Italian wine) two parts Aperol and a splash of soda. Garnish with slice of orange and a green olive.
If You Go:
The bar, Al Chioschetto, is on the Zattere in the Dorsoduro. It is popular spot, especially in summer months when live music is featured, but shutters up when bad weather or high water hits.
We found the Guidecca-produced canvas bags (7.10-euro) anda large selection of skin care products at the Aqua Altra Societa Cooperative Sociale store at 2898 Calle Della Scuola, near Campo Santa Margherita in the Dorsoduro. (Across from the entry to the Scuola).