I take my husband away for his birthday/ our anniversary every year and as we are currently both learning Italian, this year I chose to whisk him off to Venice (and for those reading thinking it, yes I am the best wife ever!!).
It is such an amazing place, the bridges, the dead ends, the narrow cobbled streets. Then there are all the amazing sights, I honestly think the Doge’s Palace is one of the most beautiful building I have ever visited. The ceilings were out of this world, what I wouldn’t give to have one of these in my living room!!!
My hands down favorite place was the San Marco’s Basilica, but maybe not for the reasons others love it. Sure it was breathtaking in size, grandeur and had stunning mosaics, but what I really loved was the “Treasure”. At the top corner of the Basilica there is an area which stores it and you pay €3 to enter. Paul was all for not going as he didn’t want to give the church any money, but I forced him and so glad I did. On the left hand side as you entered the traditional “Treasure” is stored in locked cabinets. Lots of very expensive over indulgent things you expect to see in a church in Italy, but off to the right was something way more amazing. The body parts of Saints. There are around 50 little dome jars which each hold the body part of an old Saint. Some contain bones (legs, skulls, arms), some whole body parts (like a hand) and I am pretty certain one looked like it contained a heart. I know this is grim but seriously if you go to Venice go in this room, it is like nothing I have ever seen before! Sadly I have no photos of the inside as using cameras is prohibited, but here is the outside, although it does not really show it for what it really is!
But anyhoo, on to the point, vegan in Venice. I found it quite easy to eat vegan while I was away, every now and then when we were wandering a little back street we came across a vegan menu in a restaurant window. I also found a number of gelato shops which had vegan options, although I never actually tried any as I was far too full of carbs to eat anything extra! Venice is full of dead ends and narrow alleys which means when you see something wandering off the beaten track, you may not find it again, so when you see the vegan menu my advice, either drop a pin on your phone, if you have a phone which does it, or go in and eat right then! We saw too many places and then could not for love or money find them again………
Another thing which we found a few of was health food shops and they all have a great range of vegan meats, cheese and butter. Vegan milk is easily bought in all supermarkets too. Most of these shops and restaurants were in either the San Croce or San Polo area’s of Venice. I think if I was to go back I would go self catering and just stock up in these places and make my own lunch and head out for only dinner. This would not only allow for saving some money as Venice is expensive, but also healthier eating!
I found a few different pizza places did a “Marinara” pizza which has tomatoes, oregano, olive oil and garlic. Just be sure to double check they do not put egg or whey in the base, although most do not. This was my fave Marinara pizza (plus mushrooms!), sat outside in a square on a bright sunny day, absolutely perfect!
I also ate a lot of Penne all’Arabbiatta. As a general rule penne does not have egg in it as it is a dried pasta, but again just ask to be sure. Arrabiatta sauce is normally made of tomatoes, olive oil and chilli peppers, love it!
I have to say the biggest issue I have eating in Italy is the lack of a vegetable “Secondi Piatti”. Traditionally menus in Italy have three different courses, “Antipasto”, the starters; “Primo Piatti”, the first course and “Secondo Piatti”, the second course. The Primo Piatti is generally where you will find your vegan food, as this is the soup and pasta. The Secondo Piatti is entirely fish, meat or chicken. This means that the only options for vegans is pizza or pasta. This gets very tedious, not to mention the effect on your belly! I need to go back in summer when hopefully there will be much more fresh vegetable meal options available, we shall see!
While we were away we found one restaurant which did not conform to this rule and actually had a vegan Secondo Piatti, La Zucca. This was the absolute best meal I ate in Venice. I had heard of this place on vegan forums and it was on a night where my body was physically incapable of eating any more pizza or pasta that we just happened to stumble across it, but it was closed!!! Heartbroken (genuinely!!) I ended up buying a salad from the Coop after watching my husband eat at a Japanese buffet.
The next day we started wandering again and again stumbled upon this restaurant, which is surprising given how hard it is to find anything in Venice. Clearly it was fate. They actually only have one vegan dish, which is a mix of their side dishes with rice in the middle, but it was amazing! It was a perfect mix from very Italian dishes like lentils to more Asian food with ginger spiced carrots and each was seasoned to perfection!
I even got pudding! No idea what it was, some sort of mango jelly with spiced pineapple on top, but it was again very yummy. The place was packed to the rafters within 10 minutes of opening, with people even sharing tables,speaking volumes to how good it is. If you are in Venice I highly recommend eating here, one of the best meals I have had in a long time.
I will leave you at that and end with a few photos. The only downside to my trip to Venice was it rained pretty much the whole time we were there, but stunning despite it! We will just have to go back in summer. Have you been, did you find anywhere else awesome to eat??