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Café Life Venice
A Guidebook to the Cafés and Bacari of La Serenissima
Joe Wolff; photography by Roger Paperno

7" x 7" • 192 pages • full-color photos • maps
ISBN 9781566567183 (UK ISBN 9781905214617) • paperback • $20.00

Venice is a city without parallel. This essential companion will enrich anyone's experience of the magical city of lagoons.

The Café Life series takes you to its third Italian city-La Serenissima (the Most Serene Republic)-with Café Life Venice. Like predecessors Café Life Rome and Café Life Florence, it explores a select group of family-run establishments. However, because Venice moves to the stroke of its very own gondola paddle (voga), you'll be drinking less coffee, eating less gelato-and sipping more wine. This may be good news to some of you. The Venetians do love their wine, and you'll see them loving it at almost any time of day in one of the city's many bacari. The bacaro is a cross between a café and a wine bar, where you'll find locals knocking back an ombra (Venetian for glass of wine) and eating cichetti (tapas-like snacks) as they stand at the bar. This wine that they quaff like mineral water is usually lower in alcohol content-around 11 percent.

Bacari are a hidden treasure: they offer good value for money (remember, Italy is expensive), and they are run by proprietors obsessed with the quality of their traditional Venetian cuisine. In addition to the bacaro, this guide includes some superb pasticcerie (bakeries), a café or two, and one gelateria.

● Filled with richly anecdotal text and fascinating interviews with the owners
● Stunning photography that beautifully evoke the city, its neighborhoods, and bacaro
● Carefully chosen establishments sprinkled throughout the sestieri of Venice to help you refuel during your wanderings

Joe Wolff and Roger Paperno worked together on Café Life Rome and Café Life Florence in this series.

Click here
to view an excerpt. 

Media Reviews

Café Life Venice is the third in the ‘Café Life’ series authored by Wolff and Paperno (Rome and Florence are their previous volumes). It’s an attractive little book, full of color photographs of 17 cafés, bakeries, wine bars, and gelato shops and equally colorful and entertaining stories of their owners and of Venice. Readers will feel ready to greet the owners as if they were old friends after having read about them in such familiar to Venice will find much to appreciate...recommended for public libraries with large travel collections.”
—Library Journal

"Venice: a supermodel among cities, but one that has been written about and photographed so thoroughly, it's hard for guidebooks to find anything new to say. Although there are some fine restaurants in Venice, the family-run cafés, or 'bacari', a cross between a café and a wine bar, are probably a better way to get a glimpse of the glamorous bustle of everyday life. This little guide is full of interesting information about the city, while selecting and telling the stories of some of it's longest-established and best-loved, cafés.
—Sunday Telegraph (London)

"an informed and informative guide to the cafés... offers illustrative and descriptive anecdotal commentaries and interviews showcasing and highlighting the best that Venice has to offer the tourist, traveler, or native resident. 'Café Live Venice' is an ideal reverence for tany finding themselves in Venice...Also very highly recommended are Joe Wolff's two earlier travel guides 'Cafe Life Rome' and 'Cafe Life Florence'."
—Midwest Book Review

Reader Reviews
In the style of his previous “Cafe Life” books about Rome and Florence, the intention of the author was to provide a selection of outstanding cafes across the breadth of Venice, focusing on family-owned and operated enterprises, “to help you refuel during your wanderings or when you get lost”. Of course, one of the key goals for visitors to Venice is to “get lost”, and finding excellent food and beverages with great people in special surroundings is a very important part of life, so the concepts behind creation of the book were attractive to me, and well presented!
Like many books about Venice, Cafe Life Venice is divided into a chapter per Siestre, for Cannaregio (4 places), San Marco (5), Dorsoduro (2), San Polo (5) and Santa Croce (1). Strangely, Castello is missing! The types of “cafe” are varied, from gelateria through osteria, trattoria, pasticceria, barcara, to torrefazione (coffee roasting house).
Wolff’s talks with owners brought family and cafe histories, the content, history and preparation of Venetian foods ranging from pasticci through cicchetti (little snacks) and tramezzini (small sandwiches) to the entire range of la cucina tipica Veneziana, and of course, dolci (dessert). Along the way, the author segues into historical insights about cafe locations, the rigor of become a master at the food arts, background information on more than fifty pastries and other culinary delights, and tangental stories from Venetian history that enliven the text and fit into cafe conversation quite well! The book has a reasonable location map, a good listing of cafe addresses and contact information, and very useful route-finding directions to get you to Wolff’s favorite places.
When you arrive, soon armed with your morning caffe and fritelle, your luncheon cicchetti and ombra rosso, or your evening sarde in saor and Soave, stay awhile and also enjoy great conversation with your hosts! A little espresso, dolci, limoncello or grappa may cap your evening.
This little book is a worthy addition to your Venice library, a compelling reminder of the pleasure of wandering back to your favorite bacaro in the afternoon for a refreshing spritz and a little more warm hospitality and conversation…Cin cin!
 — Randy Bosch

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Of Related Interest:
Cafe Life Rome
Cafe Life New York
A Traveller's History of Italy
Cafe Life Florence
A Traveller's History of Venice
Cafe Life Paris