Venetian Wanderings | Episode 30: Ai Crociferi
Luckily yesterday there was a big storm, so today the weather is perfect: the sun is back, but there is a lovely breeze and the air is fresh. Unfortunately I have work to do, so I'll be forced at home this afternoon, but before starting I need coffee and relaxation.
Today I'm taking you to one of my favourite places in Venice, the ex convent Ai Crociferi. Located in Campo dei Gesuiti, this place is a corner of peace. The structure dates back to about 1150 and it was restored by IUAV University in 2006, it has two internal cloisters, a beautiful XVIII century staircase and a small wooden terrace on a canal. It opened to the public in 2013; it works partly as student accommodation, partly as guest house and -most importantly- as cafeteria and eatery. They also organise concerts every Wednesday and open door cinema on Sunday evenings (so cool!).
Being able to enjoy a coffee inside a cloister is something unique, most cloisters are private, while here the bar is open from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., there is free wi-fi, delicious food and comfortable deck chairs where you can relax with a nice book! Everything is incredibly beautiful, the historical architecture enhances the contemporary design, natural light illuminates the different environments making them airy and incredibly enjoyable and, as already said, the cloister is stunning.
In addition to this, the food and drinks are very very good too! For breakfast they offer a very interesting selection of teas and some savoury treats like croissants, buns with chocolate chips (my favourite) and small biscuits, obviously coffee, freshly squeezed juices or organic juices.
I have to say that the beer, wine and liquors too are of excellent quality, so if you are a cocktail lover...come here!!
I just had an espresso and read the papers, I sat inside in a nice and spacious room with red brick walls, a very high ceiling, two columns and old maps and posters on the walls. There were two students working on their laptops, most guests were -rightly- sitting outside and everyone seemed relaxed to me! I mean, it's impossible not to feel amazing in a place like this.
Anyway, Ai Crociferi is also an excellent option if you want to enjoy a nice meal. It's an eatery (not a restaurant), so you can eat from 11:30 am.m to 10 p.m. They offer gourmet sandwiches, rich salads, selections of cured meats and cheese, toasted sandwiches and panini. They are part of the slow food preside so the products are really delicious, the manager -although not vegetarian- loves vegetables and vegetarian cuisine, so there are some inviting options for vegetarians and there is always something for vegans too.
The prices are very honest! With less than 15 euros you can have a mouthwatering lunch in a stunning location, surrounded by peace and tranquility, what more could one want? Every time I come here I feel regenerated. Plus, the staff is friendly and helpful and really do their best to make customers happy and feel at ease.
The menu isn't always the same, but to give you an idea of what you could have I took a picture of today's offer. Yum! The salads are really inviting: tomatoes, sun dried zucchini and aubergines, sun dried zucchini, Robiola from Roccaverano cheese and tomato, stuffed cod with black rice and sunflower seeds and parsley or Asiago from Allevo, lemon, zucchini, carrots and chia and pumpkin seeds. The most expensive one costs 9 euros...so, if you ask me, the value for money is excellent. I won't go through the whole list of sandwiches and panini, but I can tell you they are all so very appealing...
I also recommend the selections of cured meats and cheese, all Slow Food! It's 10 euros for a selection of either cured meat or cheese and 15 euros for a mixed selection, so, as you can see, it's perfectly possible to eat well in Venice on a budget and without giving up quality and taste!
When I spoke with the manager it was clear that he is truly passionate about his job and wants to maintain this place special. One can stay here all day and no one will ever hurry him to leave, people are actually welcomed to stay, in fact there are lots of magazines placed on different desks and tables and many students work here, so they just have a tea or coffee and work hours on their computer.
I love the idea of an open door cinema! No fee is required, one just pays for his drink and that's it, a sort of collective moment of sharing and learning. I think I've already mentioned that Ai Crociferi is also a guest house, so it's possible to sleep here. I haven't seen the rooms but just some photos and they seem lovely. Breakfast is not included, but the cost of a coffee and a pastry is anyway cheaper than the one of a hotel breakfast and there is no time limit!
I highly recommend Ai Crociferi to anyone looking for peace, relaxation and delicious food.
Address: Campo dei Gesuiti,Cannaregio 487830121 Venezia
Phone: (+39) 041 5286103