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Our Venice

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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Venice has a lot of secrets and some have not been discovered yet. Some artefacts have been recycled and inserted into buildings, so it is difficult sometimes to clarify the reason why they are there.

The Hooks at San Canciano

What about the hooks you can see while you are crossing the bridge near Campo San Canciano attached to a wall facing the water? Their meaning might not be clear to all the people who walk past them and kiss them because they think they bring good luck.

The bridge of the Quartered

Those hooks are the only ones left in Venice, There were some more in the district of Santa Croce, at the ponte dei Squartai (the bridge of the Quartered).

They are made out of iron, and have the shape of an anchor like the hooks you find in a butcher shop to hold meat. They were put in at least four different parts of Venice referring to the cardinal points of Padua, Mestre, Chioggia and Lido. Venetian law required that the four parts of criminals’ and traitors’ bodies who had been executed had to be exposed.

Pink columns, Doge’s Palace facade

Their heads were brought instead to St. Mark’s Square where they were probably hanged between the two pink columns of the facade of the Doge’s Palace.

The reason for all of this exposure dealt with the warnings that the Republic of Venice wanted to communicate to their citizens as an educational example in order that they did not commit the same crimes.

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