Have I already told you how much I love Cannaregio? I don't know, but it has a magical allure all of its own and, being a very big district, it is also very varied from part to part. When I used to work in San Geremia I walked the Strada Nuova almost everyday. That street is always crowded, especially at the weekend, probably the most beaten and worst part of the district, the street everyone takes to go from one place to the other. But when I have time, like today, I really enjoy taking the side streets and wandering about the area facing the north side of the lagoon.
My favourite walk starts from Campo dei Gesuiti and proceeds in F.ta Santa Caterina, Calle Racchetta and Misericordia. From the Scuola Grande, which until the 70s was where the local basket ball team -Reyer- played, I took F.ta della Misericordia and then turned right at the first bridge in order to reach Mdonna dell'Orto. You pass in front of an old squero -a shipyard for gondolas-, then in front of La Bottega di Tintoretto (where the painter used to live, today a painting and drawing school) and turn right in Campo dei Mori. Well, this is one of my preferred parts: quiet, peaceful and beautiful. Boats parked outside the water front doors, arabesque decorations and details and, finally, the fishbone pavement that leads to the Madonna dell'Orto church. Wow...I cannot explain how particular the vibe is, you'll just have to come check it out yourself! But it's definitely worth it!
From here you can wander around the F.ta della Sensa, opt to go as far as Sant'Alvise (I'll take you there another day!) or, like me, go back towards F.ta della Misericordia and the Jewish Ghetto. This area too is fantastic, with the highest houses in Venice (because the space was limited, Jews had to build and expand upward, so here you find taller buildings with more houses with a low ceiling). Anyway it was about time to get back, I was starting to feel hungry and had a lesson at 2, so I re-entered the frenetic Rio Tera' della Maddalena then Strada Nuova. I hardly ever eat in this street, too crowded; but there are two places that make great exceptions: one is La Cantina (the first place I reviewed!) and the other one is La Vecia Carbonera, where I'm taking you now.
La Vecia Carbonera is the best osteria for cicchetti in that street, really! With original and beautiful furniture. Just in front of it there is Campo della Maddalena, which I highly recommend to see. A particular church with a circular plan inspired by the Roman Pantheon and, on the left, the sottoportico delle due colonne. Incredible how quiet these locations are despite their position.... anyway, going back to food and wine, you can't miss Vecia Carbonera. It is located just at the foot of the bridge and has two inviting windows displaying mouthwatering cicchetti.
At La Vecia Carbonera there is no table service (so you are not charged the so-called coperto), you just choose what you want and take it yourself to the table. Perfect. The place is fantastic, wooden beams and furniture, simple red brick columns, beautifully framed mirrors, wine barrels, dried flowers and artistic prints. I cannot help but appreciate this sort of design, so natural and so authentic that it positively impresses me. There were two girls and I was served by Manola -the daughter of the owner- Venetian, born and raised here in Venice. She was very kind, reserved but professional and attentive, I could see how much she cared about her family's activity. I think it was her father who introduced the crostini (slices of bread with different toppings) in Venice after a trip to Barcelona (the traditional cicheti, in fact, are different types of fried or boiled fish, etc.; while the crostini have become so popular only in recent times).
In addition to the crostini they also offer some boiled and fried fish, frittata and a couple of options for vegetarians. I was on the hungry side, so I had an assortment of things: three crostini, one with ricotta and zucchini, one with ricotta and pumpkin and one with caponata (cooked vegetable salad with fried eggplant and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar and capers in a sweet and sour sauce), then I asked for a king prawn skewer, simply dressed with a little bit of parsley and a few drops of olive oil, and a vegetarian stuffed tomato. Yum!!!!
As soon as I was given my glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, I went to the back room, so spacious and with a beautiful and subtle light, and sat down on a long wooden table. I sat next to a window overlooking the side canal, I don't know but the only sight of water relaxes me greatly. Nobody hurries you, you can just stay there and take your time. I would have liked to read something, but had forgotten my book at home and, unfortunately, the closest bookshop is at the train station (there is a serious lack of bookshops in Venice, so sad...) so I just took pictures and scrolled my Feedly (my new favourite app, btw this is my RSS in case you want to follow).
Everything was lovely, I went early so it was still quiet. At around 11:30/12:00 there are the elderly Venetian men (nicknamed ombristi, this is those who go from one place to the other to drink ombre), which -you should know- are a sort of sign of good quality, then different people, both locals and curious travellers. My husband works close by and finds La Vecia Carbonera a great option for a quick bite, especially now that it's winter and people need to stay warm and indoors! It's not too expensive (a detail that one must consider when snacking/lunching out from Monday to Friday), you can sit down and relax for a moment and the atmosphere is friendly and not too noisy, just right. The girls behind the counter do a great job in keeping an eye on the general situation and I enjoyed their kindness.
When I was finished, I asked for another stuffed tomato and paid. In total (3 crostini, 2 tomatoes, the skewer and a glass of wine that cost 4 euros) I spent 15 euros, so definitely not bad! You can always choose a cheaper wine; personally when I find myself in these situations I just order what I want because it's not 2 euros that are going to change my life so I might as well satisfy my desires and, anyway, I ate relatively a lot, let's say it was a small lunch made of an assortment of cicheti, rather than just a nibble...