The iconic Italian ritual of ‘aperitivo’ – enjoying light bites known as ‘cicchetti’ with a refreshing Aperol Spritz – can trace its century-old origins to the ‘bacari’ bars dotted around the Venetian backstreets. Many of these venues are still going strong and now they also rub shoulders with a cohort of modern locales, ensuring that wherever your Venice sojourn takes you, you’re well served.

Brought to you with Aperol Spritz

Terrazza Aperol

Terrazza Aperol
Imbibe those summer vibes at this mainstay of Venice's culture scene

Where better to enjoy your aperitivo than in Aperol Spritz’s flagship bar and the centre of the city’s culture scene? This smartly updated space on the historic Campo Santo Stefano is bristling with contemporary touches. This includes wooden floors made from reclaimed ‘bricole’, the navigation poles favoured by gondoliers, and pops of orange mosaic tiles. Naturally, the real action is on the patio, where friends old and new make memories over meaty, cheesy cicchetti and mouth-watering homemade brioche.

Enjoy the Aperol Spritz ritual in an effervescent social hub

Campo Santo Stefano

Birreria Zanon

Birreria Zanon
This canalside bacaro's aperitivo keeps the Venice locals coming

This proper local spot in the off-the-beaten-track Cannaregio neighbourhood is a must if you find yourself in Venice this summer. Bag yourself a table beside the canal, then make for the cosy ‘banco’ – bar – and order whatever cicchetti delights are on that day. Anticipate crisp, well-seasoned bruschetta with generous toppings of asparagus, mozzarella and black truffle, pesto, tomato and balsamic, or porchetta with ricotta and mustard sauce – a tasty complement to another idyllic Venetian evening.

Fondamenta dei Ormesini

Bacaro Ravano

Bacaro Ravano
The Venetian light bites are off the scale at this tiny bacaro

A solid introduction to Venice’s Bacari scene, this snug neighbourhood favourite – near enough to the Rialto Bridge, but not too near – does a peerless line in sumptuous sandwiches, polpette meatballs and local speciality cod, as well as daily variations on fried olives. It’s often standing room only but don’t let that put you off – the vibe is welcoming, the staff are a hoot and you’ll find yourself chatting to your fellow evening chums in no time.

Rughetta del Ravano

Al Squero

Al Squero
Tuck into Al Squero's authentic cicchetti plates while gondoliers gussy up their boats / Credit: 123RF

Enjoying one of the best locations in the city – opposite the Squero di San Trovaso, where you can watch gondoliers repairing their craft – Al Squaro makes aperitivo an art form. Picture-perfect cicchetti-style dishes, such as San Daniele ham, pancetta and salami from Carnia, and small-batch Carnic cheeses with tropea onion and mortadella, are served in minutes and pleasingly affordable. Going back for seconds is a no-brainer.

Enjoy the Aperol Spritz ritual while watching Venice’s traditional gondoliers at work

943 Dorsoduro

Osteria Sepa

Dishes, cups, cutlery and takeaway containers are all made from corn by-products to eliminate plastic waste at this stylish joint a few blocks east of the Rialto Bridge. But sustainability is only half the appeal. What’s the other half? The cicchetti, of course. Classic Venetian creamed cod, salted mutton leg, cuttlefish on grilled polenta, slow-cooked octopus and marinated anchovies. The bar’s slender size means places to sit are few and far between, but this charming bolthole will have you on your feet in raptures anyway.

Enjoy the Aperol Spritz ritual with lip-smackingly tasty seafood

5482 Calle de la Bissa

Taverna al Remer

With its entrance well and truly tucked away on Calle del Remer – you’d be very lucky to stumble upon it by accident – Taverna al Remer is the perfect way to show off your Venice knowledge. The venue opens up into a buzzy courtyard and pier that juts out splendidly into the Grand Canal. Happy hour, as you’d expect, is legendary. Rotating seasonal small bites offer a lip-smacking accompaniment to an Aperol Spritz with an impeccable backdrop, mingling with the lively chatter of in-the-know, early-evening aperitivo lovers.

5701 Cannaregio

Bauer’s Terrace

This upscale hotel a minute’s amble from St Mark’s Square strikingly mixes many design periods, making it something of an architectural cicchetti. There are elements of gothic byzantine on The Bauer’s canalside facade, Art Deco stylings throughout the lobby and even a whiff of brutalism on the street entrance. For its most eye-catching aspect, be sure to bag a spot on the waterfront terrace – opposite the beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute – around golden hour.

1459 S. Marco

Enjoy Aperol responsibly.