Nightclubs & Entertainment
Venice is a relatively quiet city, if we ignore spectacular events like the Carnival or the Redentore Festival when the city literally goes crazy, mainly on account of the huge number of tourists and out-of-towners who go to the city in hordes at those times.
However, what is most striking, when strolling around the maze of calli and callette in the evening, is the overwhelming peace and quiet in a calm that seems almost muffled in cotton wool.
But going round a corner you may suddenly find yourself in one of the many campi that serve as a popular rendez-vous, particularly for the many students in the city, and in the friendly, informal Venice.
In fact, Venice has two distinct personalities that have lived side by side for centuries. There is the aristocratic, elegant and formal Venice of Bon Ton and red carpets.
Then there is the popular, university Venice that is carefree and fun and that in the evenings and in its free time prefers being in the open air, around a bench or, better still, near the bar of a bàcaro, a typical Venetian tavern that serves aperitifs, perhaps washed down with a few savoury baccalà tarts (tarts with whipped, creamy salt cod filling).
Whether you prefer a sophisticated Bellini, or opt for the more popular Spritz (an aperitif originally prepared with water and white wine with a dash of liqueur or sharp-flavoured aperitif such as Aperol, Campari or Select), in Venice you will be spoilt for choice.
Aperitifs are always accompanied by the classic cichèti (meatballs, fried fish, croquettes
and tartlets) or by tramezzini, special sandwiches that the Venetians have virtually turned into an art form.
If you prefer the atmosphere of the in the old and romantic Venice of yesteryear, the historic cafés in St. Mark’s Square, such as the Quadri or the timeless Harry's Bar are not to be missed. Let yourself be enveloped in the orchestra music that can be heard from one end of the square to the other.
Or you might prefer a livelier area, such as the Erbaria part of Rialto, the Fondamenta degli Ormesini and Fondamenta della Misericordia (Cannaregio) or Campo Santa Margherita (Dorsoduro), always a favourite student haunt.
There are also many pubs where you can sip excellent draught beer, or wine bars where you can sample excellent local wines accompanied by typical products and unusual combinations.
Most Venetian restaurants close by 2am, so there is actually no Venetian movida as such, even though musical events for younger crowds are often held in dedicated venues on the lagoon islands (such as the Island of San Servolo) or on the Venetian mainland.
There is of course the Venice Casino, located in the splendid Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, along the Strada Nuova, with a sumptuous entrance on the Grand Canal, where you can try your luck or enjoy a drink in the lounge.
Some of the old disco clubs are still there, having reaped success in the 90s, and now a bit out of fashion with a dubious clientele.
Last but not least are the very exclusive galas held in historic Venetian palazzi during Carnival. If you manage to purchase a much sought-after ticket or, better still, if you receive a personal invitation, you should know that the dress code requires an authentic Venetian costume, which can be hired in some of the city’s top boutiques.
Visitors to Venice essentially come to experience the city, and this is the very best experience that Venice has to offer.
Whether you prefer an informal dinner in one of the many traditional trattorias or you choose a gourmet restaurant, after dinner you can relax (and have fun) strolling along the quiet calli (Venice is a very safe city), or immerse yourself into a vibrant campiello filled with people, enjoy one of the many open-air events or concerts that Venice organises during the summer, or take a romantic tour of the lagoon in a motorboat.
Venice also boasts an important musical and theatrical tradition and the historical La Fenice, Goldoni, and Malibran theatres have an impressive programme all year round.
The Church of Santa Maria della Pietà is popularly dubbed “The Church of Vivaldi”, as it often pays tribute to the Venetian maestro with concerts and choruses.
There are also classical or chamber music concerts in the churches of San Stefano, San Stae and in the Scuola di San Rocco.
It is always best to check the Venice Biennale calendar of events: Art, Cinema, Dance, Music and Theatre will awaken the city with all kinds of events in the most unusual venues.