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A simple, refined Italian "trattoria", a milestone in the history of dining loved by actors and writers, such as Hemingway and Capote.
The uniqueness of Venice is unquestionable. But if you wish to discover the true spirit of the lagoon, you have to leave the narrow streets and small squares, its churches and museums and hop on the ferryboat to Torcello.
In ancient times, this island was a seat of power and was later to be gradually abandoned but it is still a marvel of nature and archeology. The spectacular cathedral with its impressive bell-tower, marbles and mosaics cannot possibly be missed.
However, Torcello is also famous for the Locanda Cipriani, a milestone in the history of dining. It was right here on the island that Giuseppe Cipriani decided to open a simple yet refined trattoria in 1935, with a few rooms to let. A few years earlier he had opened one of the most famous restaurant bars in the world, Harry’s Bar, just behind San Marco.
In a very short time, this tavern became a popular meeting place for writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote, royals, aristocrats and all the stars of Hollywood (such as Kim Novak, in the picture). Sitting in the splendid garden of the Locanda, it is also possible to enjoy the mythical Carpaccio, raw meat cut into paper thin slices before being seasoned, a dish invented by Giuseppe himself.
Following in the footsteps of the patriarch, his daughter Carla then took over the kitchen, and has now been succeeded by Bonifacio Brass, the son of Carla. The venue is famous for its fish dishes: scampi and artichoke salad and, created by Carla Cipriani, John Dory fillet alla Carlina with fresh tomatoes and capers from Pantelleria. But the real musts of the Cipriani dynasty are risotto alla Torcellana (made from the many herbs and vegetables that grow on the islands briny soil) and schie, little lagoon shrimps. This is not so much creative cuisine but a proper gastronomic, historical and naturalistic experience. And, if you are lucky, you might find yourself sitting one table away from Woody Allen or Nicole Kidman.
Piazza Santa Fosca 29, Torcello
Tel. 041/730150, website
Photo courtesy Locanda Cipriani