Our Venice

When you take an excursion to the lagoon islands of Venice, you will seesome particular fishing nets. Find out how they are still used today.

Square cogoli

From March to April Venetian fishermen catch the’moeche’, small crabs, that lose their carapace at this time of the year and become very soft. Special nets called ‘cogoli’ in circular or square shape are used for this purpose and are provided with a trap at the bottom.


The so -called ‘nassa’ consists of a metal or plastic mesh with a ‘funnel’ at the end. The bait is placed inside, and it consists of bread, cheese and bay leaf, but above all sardines because give off a strong smell. After twenty-four hours the bait is replaced and the catch is withdrawn. Those nets can be used all year round, even during the biological shutdown period and are considered eco-sustainable for the kind of fish caught, that is usually small.

For cuttlefish, nets are lowered in groups of twenty tied together, for other kinds of fish there are larger nets, and therefore they are single ones. If you catch sea cicadas they are semi-ellipsoidal in shape and fifty to one hundred are lowered at a time. The cicadas are then brought alive to the fish market.

Scales for fishing, the so-called bilancioni

Near Torcello island there is a big scale formed with a quadrangularshaped network, used for fishing. When the fish is captured it isconveyed by the movements of the net towards its centre. It is thenrecovered either with a landing net or using a boat that retrieves it frombeneath. It is used mainly to catch sardines.


Fishermen have this equipment on board, a mechanical tool or device consisting of one or more surfaces with holes of different sizes, used to separate fine materials from other coarser ones.

A tour to the islands and a stop for a bite at one of the local restaurants would be a treat!

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The first printed cookbook was published in Venice in 1475, but the first Venetian one only in 1908. Why so late, given that Venice was one of the most avant-garde cities of the time and that it had also distinguished itself for the spread of publishing? The reason deals with its culinary tradition too rooted in its culture that the city did not need to pass it on.


However, a Venetian manuscript called the Cook’s book from the 1300s is still preserved in the Casanatese Library in Rome. It reports the recipe for ‘saor’. It is a condiment or dressing typical of the Venetian cuisine, ideal for seasoning fish and vegetables. There are 134 recipes listed in the manuscript dealing especially with meat dishes. It is precisely this manuscript that inspires the first printed book of 1475, which emphasizes that sea fish is unhealthy and makes you very thirsty. It also explains how to clean it by removing the entrails not from the belly, but from the gills. If fish were roasted the entrails were left.

Fish broth

In 1570 broth made with fish and meat was already known. Sea bass was preferred to other types of fish and mutton, kid and veal were used for meat broth.

At the end of the 1600s the French cuisine took hold in Venice and became a fashion. It influenced the way Venetians prepared desserts. The most appreciated one was zabaione, served early in the morning to hunters.


Venetian Rice soup and liver were introduced at the end of the 1700s and were very popular as well as ‘peoci’ that is mollusks were prepared starting from the 1800s.


The recipes we still know today they come about just in the beginning of the twentieth century when finally the first Venetian recipe book was written and published by an anonymous person.

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Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Remigio Barbaro’s home on Burano island

Burano is not only the island of fishermen, lace-making and houses painted in bright colours. It has also given birth to many artists including Remigio Barbaro, born in 1911 and died in 2005. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice for a while and was given a professorship in New York that he refused. He met internationally prominent people such Ernest Hemingway and Peggy Guggenheim.

His courtyard full of works

He worked in his studio house where he found the right ambiance surrounded by an amazing garden. His works are in terracotta, bronze and clay and preparatory drawings, studies and sketches. He mainly dealt with religious subjects.

The terracotta work representing the famous composer, Baldassare Galuppi

Not everything he did, however, is housed in his house museum. There are many works such as the monument to Baldassare Galuppi located in the main square on Burano island.

The adulteress

Waiting for peace, that was presented at the Biennale of 1956 under the name of Adultera is installed near the boat station and many more in the surrounding areas.

Houses on Burano island

Furthermore, he was commissioned by the Superintendency of Venice to take care of the restoration of the facades of the houses on the island. He analysed the pre-existing colours and decided which intervention was best done.

Before dying, he expressed the desire to turn his home into a permanent museum. Unfortunately, his wish has not yet been fulfilled.

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