July 27, 2011 / Food & Wine
Venice, Veneto

Cicchetti, also referred to by the Venetians as cicchetin, comes from the Venetian verb: to cicchettare, which means to snack on delectable bite size gastronomical treasures positioned on bread. Okay, maybe those are not the exact words our Venetian friends used to describe it, but it was definitely what we experienced as we cicchettin-ed our way through the various bacaro – that’s Venetian for osteria or wine bar and what our friends described as a Venetian’s home away from home.

The most traditional recipes of the cicchetti (antipasto) (appetizer) are baccala’ mantecato (creamed codfish) made with dried codfish, soaked and then whipped with garlic and olive oil that happily tastes like butter and cipolle in saòr (onions caramelized in vinegar). No consumption of cicchetti (usually invoked in the plural, as it is impossible to just eat one cicchetto) would be complete without being accompanied by l’ombra – that’s Venetian for glass of wine, and means “shade”, as in that into which you step to avoid the sun, cool off, and drink refreshing beverage… natch.

You could say that cicchetti are your Venetian version of aperitivo, but since drinking un ombra or uno spritz (white wine and mixer, usually Campari or Aperol) is allowed after 10 am, (why wait till the afternoon?) it is considered more of a Venetian pastime to be enjoyed all day long.

Jean Tori

by Jean Tori

Artist- Art website: Art blog: Design company: Jean also rents holiday houses in her medieval hamlet in Umbria at

14 Responses to “Cicchetti”

  1. carol dunn

    sounds a lot like tapis. sounds wonderful. when i get back to venice, i shall definitely partake!

  2. Roseann

    OH, NO!!!??!?!?!?!

    The last note for the summer? I’m shocked- I WILL NOT SURVIVE THE SUMMERTIME.

    What a bummer….

  3. Gianna

    I had to laugh when I saw the subject. I thought it refered to something else.
    I will have to be careful when I go to my father’s home town and ask for a cichettin.
    To my father a chicchetin meant a little shot of liquor. Preferably grappa. I gave him one every evening and he lived to the age of 98. Have thought about having one myself every night. I prefer it in coffee.

  4. Melinda, funny thing is that Schiavi is a surname and as it’s written- ‘Cantine del Vino gia Schiavi’- the gia’ means ‘previously known as Schiavi’. So, technically you are right, but more of a strange family name than actual slaves, still – slave to good wine and food?! It’s also referred to as ‘il Bottegon’, and of course Enoteca Schiavi and Cantinone Gia Schiavi, so Carol, when you go it can be found at Dorsoduro 992. Also look around the Rialto Bridge area as there are many near the market, such as Barca Giro. Thanks Toni! Roseanne, all I can offer up is to send rosemary, basil and sage for a quick Italian fix! Thanks everyone! Take care, Jean

  5. Beverly

    I’m sad this is the last note for the summer ! :( I enjoy it soooooo much.

  6. Sarah S. Warren

    these look wonderful- i would like the recipe for several of these. do you have a recipe book (published in english) i could purchase.???? thanks

  7. Even though our ancestors spelled the name “Cecchetti” and are from the Perugia area, this is close enough for us to be excited about the discovery of this definition of the name. Of course, it would have so much to do with food. We love it. Thanks so much!!

  8. Maria Barattucci

    I was in Venice recently and had Cicchetti, I would love to make these for our Thanksgiving. The toppings are not a problem, it’s the spreads on the bread, do you have a recipe or suggestion for what to use as the spread. Thanks, Marie


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