• Nicky F.

Drinking wine in Rialto: Osteria Bancogiro

It must have been about 3 pm when we crossed the Rialto Bridge to reach the Erbaria. The sky was pitch black on one side and bright on the other, making it difficult to understand which intentions the weather had. Right now is quite a hectic moment, the week of the Film Festival implies extra work and both Vito and I needed a break and wanted to chill a little, so we went to Osteria Bancogiro for a glass of wine.

Located in the Sottoportico with the same name, Bancogiro was the first winebar and restaurant to open in that area in 2001. As the name suggests, it was a bank, precisely the first official bank of the of Venetian Senate from 1524 to 1806.

The look of the place is simply stunning: red brick walls, wooden beams, a terrace that overlooks the Grand Canal and a very special ambient on the first floor.

I actually worked here when I was 18 and had just finished high school. There was a different management at the time and the whole experience was life changing for me; this was the place were I was first introduced to the -serious- culture of wine and food and, also, where I met the person that is now my husband, thus I am quite attached to this osteria.

Currently, it is managed by the same staff of the Osteria San Marco and, although more elegant than in the past, I still find it a great place for wine and crostini, plus, the boys are very friendly and professional, in fact we never stopped going!

The selection of wine is very very very interesting. The offer by glass is written on a long blackboard, but if you are unsure just ask them: they will be happy to find the right option for your taste. I like the fact that there is always an "important" wine open, which gives people like me the possibility to try prestigious wines without having to buy the bottle. To accompany our drink we usually take a couple of crostini (slices of bread with different savoury toppings).

The assortment includes toppings with cured meats, cheese, vegetables and also fish. Their bread is made with potatoes and has a soft and floury texture which makes it wonderful and, my favourite thing here is baccalà mantecato. Sarde in saor too are exquisite, well fried and super tasty and I also recommend trying the mortadella! I am a red wine drinker and for me, Vito chose a glass of Cavaliere (Michele Satta), while for him a fresh and sparkling Lambrusco.

Being a restaurant, at lunch and dinner time the tables are reserved for the clients who wish to dine, but in the afternoon it's possible to sit outside, enjoy the view and relax.

In front of Bancogiro, a gondola stop, the Grand Canal and the elegant facades of Venetian houses and palaces. Do you remember the 007 movie Casinò Royal? Some scenes were shot from Bancogiro (the red house you see in the picture below was the one that crumbled).

Other scenes were shot upstairs in the restaurant. The room is very small, with a low arched ceiling, a parquet floor and windows on both sides. I think these locations are so unique that it is impossible not to remain astonished by their beauty and if you want to have a romantic dinner there are no better options. On the side that faces the Grand Canal there is a portico with a "capitello" with the statue of the Virgin Mary, granite columns and a succession of other cafeterias.

We sat on the side of Campo San Giacometto, name of the church built in the XII century and one of the oldest in Venice, with a 24 hour clock. No chairs under those porticos, just a wooden plank and a higher stone on the ground where we normally chill looking at people passing by. In general, it is the foreigners that sit on the comfy chairs, we Venetian tend to stand (so we don't pay for the service) and chat with whoever passes by. Besides, when we used to work there, that stone was the place where we had our 5 minutes break during our shift.

Bancogiro is mostly a restaurant. I have to admit that I have never eaten here, so I cannot say how it is, but it seems nice! What I can guarantee for are the drinks, the cicchetti and the professional and kind service. Rialto has always been the heart of the city and in the afternoon it is quiet calm, in fact it's my favourite time to be here. At lunch time too it is calm, but from the aperitif on it becomes very crowded. From 2005, in fact, all the other ex warehouses have been transformed into chic wine bars and cafes and the near Campo Bella Vienna too is now full of bars, so Rialto has since then become the place for the long aperitif.

About ten days ago I shared a post on my friend's OG Venice's blog in which I was telling about how in Rialto like everywhere else in Venice, it was the trade that gave the name to the area (read post HERE), so while here take the time to notice the tiny wooden doors of the original storehouses and the stone bas reliefs (in Venice called patere) with the image of the trade. These ones, for example, are of the compagnia della seta (silk workers and traders ) and dei boteri (of the barrels).

Campo San Giacometto, instead, has always looked metaphysical to me, almost unreal, like a space separating the constantly crowded Ruga deli Oresi from the porticos of the Erbaria. On the other side of the campo, the famous granite statue of the hunchback of Rialto, sculpted in the 16th century, carrying on his back the podium for official proclamations and, in the centre, a fountain.

At that point, we glanced at the sky and saw that it was getting darker and darker, so we headed back home. This is a pic from the bridge, I don't now if you can see it from the photo...but look at the difference between the apparently shimmering and bright water and the black clouds...well, that sight made us run home!

Anyway, going back to the point, if you happen to be in the Rialto area and are passionate about high quality Italian wine, I highly recommend you to stop by. Lovely!


Address: San Polo, Campo San Giacometto, 122, 30125 Rialto, Venice

Phone: +39 041 523 2061

Opening hours: 10 am- 12 am; closed on Sundays

Website: http://www.osteriabancogiro.it

You might also like:

Osteria all'Arco

Osteria alla Vedova

Trattoria da Jonny

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