Today’s post is dedicated not to couples, but to families or larger groups of friends that are visiting Venice and want to enjoy an easy-going meal in a family-friendly restaurant without going bankrupt.
The idea arose when speaking with my mother; she’s Irish and when our friends and family come to say hello it’s usually a big bunch of people. I don’t know if you are familiar with the Irish, but personally, I can’t think of a family with less than two kids… and Venice is not an easy city: no cars, small places, expensive tourist traps at every corner and menus that don’t meet the budget of a normal family. Most of them usually stay for a long weekend and the first time comers want to (and must) see San Marco, Rialto and Accademia. With regard to food, they eat (oh boy, if they eat!) and need to be fed with generous portions.
So we decided to share some advice on how to cope in Venice with children and the best places for families, from breakfast to dinner. We’ll follow a sort of one day suggested itinerary, so rather than listing restaurants that are far or out of reach, the options below are located along the proposed path. The final –and probably the best- advice I really ought to give you is to plan and book ahead. Plan, plan, plan, especially if you have kids, it will make a huge difference! If you think you will visit many museums and use public transportation a lot (believe me, walking will make you really tired and using the vaporetto to go from one side of the canal to the other will save you time and energy) consider purchasing a Venezia Unica city pass.
I know you want to see Saint Mark’s, the Basilica, the Doges Palace and all the rest, so do it first thing in the morning, possibly before 10 am. Enjoy a walk in the most elegant European Piazza and stop for coffee and cakes at Rosa Salva in Calle Fiubera or enjoy an ice-cream at Gelato Fantasy, in Calle dei Fabbri. By that time the area will have already started to get crowded, so we’re going to escape to Cannaregio: we’re headed to the Ghetto.
Founded in 1516, this was the area where the Jews lived under the Republic of Venice. I highly recommend a guided tour of the Synagogues, it takes place every hour at half past starting from 10:30 and you can book here.
When your stomachs start making noises, there are quite a few options in the area.
In Fondamenta delle Capuccine there are Bea Vita, a traditional family-run restaurant that for lunch offers a 13-euro menu that includes first and second course, coffee, water and wine, and Capa Toast, an easy-going place specialised in toasted sandwiches, all with Italian ingredients, and beautiful outdoor seating, otherwise, if you wish to eat local food, another budget option close by is Antica Adelaide, while if you want something different try the Orient Experience, serving ethnic food in an easy-going and friendly atmosphere and with excellent prices.
After lunch return for a moment on the Strada Nuova and look for Il Forcolaio Matto, stop at this shop to see how oars and forcole for gondolas are made and then continue until you reach Campo Santi Apostoli. Take the left and go towards the Gesuiti. Before crossing the bridge that will lead you to the campo have a look at the Fallani screen painting atelier, you can just nose around or consider doing their family workshop. At that point, I would go to the ex convent Ai Crociferi for a drink. The space is beautiful, with two cloisters, a wooden terrace on the canal and a big indoor cafeteria with maps and posters on the wall and a lovely relaxed atmosphere. You will be able to relax while your kids will have plenty of space to play.
After teas and coffees, proceed along the Fondamenta Nuove and turn at the hospital. We’re headed to deep Castello, but we’re taking the long way so you see more things. The walk will be quite long, so take the wandering as the itinerary itself and enjoy it.
The sequence is the following: Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, Chiesa dei Greci, Campo della Bragora, Riva degli Schiavoni, Via Garibaldi. Don’t rush, take it easy, admire the buildings and views along the way and, if you want a quick snack, I like Pasticceria Chiusso for pastries and savoury treats and Il Pinguino for ice-cream.
APERITIF & DINNER
We have finally arrived in Via Garibaldi!
You will be wrecked… I know you don’t believe me, but be aware you’ll change your mind. The most family friendly space in the area is definitely Caffé La Serra, a glass and iron greenhouse with a cafeteria and a wonderful garden. I also like the sandwiches at El Refolo and the super friendly staff of Caffè Hopera, but really, in Via Garibaldi any place is good for a drink and in the whole street all the places are crowded with locals. Even the bars that belong to chains have adapted to the mood of the district, so just follow your instinct.
Time for dinner. For a budget meal in the area my suggestions are:
- Trattoria Ai Tosi Piccoli for pizza. Located in Calle Secco Marina, this family-run pizzeria has a buzzing vibe, delicious pizza, homemade desserts and excellent prices.
- and Trattoria alla Nuova Speranza in Campo Ruga, an osteria serving local food, definitely off the beaten track, with a friendly and easy going staff in a magical quiet location.
Another option close to via Garibaldi is Da Jonny, a traditional and family-friendly restaurant. It is more pricey (though still affordable, look at the menu here), but the food is divine and the portions huge (kids can easily share), plus, you have been walking the entire day and I think you deserve a little treat.
Although extremely particular, I do think that Venice is a great place for children: very safe, no cars and plenty of outdoor space where kids can run and play (it is parents carrying heavy buggies the ones who will suffer more! so, yes...if you can take the smallest buggy possible!). Obviously in this one day itinerary I could not cover all the activities for children and all the district, but I think I gave you quite a lot to do and see and, if you are not used to walking so much, it will really take you all day and I am positive both you and your family will collapse as soon as your head hits the pillow.
For more inspiration, look at this page here (other activities I love for kids are the Natural History Museum, the Sunday lab at the Peggy Guggenheim and Casa Macchietta inside the Querini Stampalia, which would leave you with a couple of free hours just for yourselves!!!) or, if you enjoyed this article, drop me a line in the comments and I will prepare more "suggested itineraries".