Bologna and Venice are both old towns with a wealth of historic culture, but they’re both distinctly different. One a university town full of youth, progressive ideals and a love of food and the other a maritime powerhouse full of beauty, canals and tourists. They wouldn’t be Italian though, without a love of espresso and chocolate and both help to cater to their devotees in different ways. Bologna providing traditional Italian coffeebar culture to its discerning patrons and Venice providing the locals with a very Italian respite from the heavy impressions of non native feet. If you look closely, it’s not too hard to find these hidden gems as you explore the cities history and culture.
Starting in Bologna and getting in late, we arose in the morning to head out for our first introduction to northern Italian coffee.
I’ll admit, upon approach Aroma Caffe does look a little suspect, but stepping inside will change your opinions. If anything the sign does this place a disservice, with the interior being far more pleasant and traditional with a relaxed and casual atmosphere. Approaching the counter the signs of quality begin to become clear with single origin coffee offerings, daily origin specials and a clutter of brewing equipment on the back bar. Tempted to order a brewed coffee, I decided to embrace Italian culture more heavily and order the daily single origin espresso, an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.
Arriving with aromas of caramel and sharp orange acidity, the shot is pulled noticeably quite short which is no doubt intended to produce a more intense flavour and sweetness. To taste there’s flavours of blood orange and chocolate and to be honest it reminds me a lot of a jaffa cake and in true Italian style the shot is short, clean and syrupy. Jolted back in to action we headed out to our second spot, Caffe Terzi.
Via Portanova 12/b
40123 BOLOGNA BO
Choc full of locals and tourists alike Caffe Terzi is almost an institution in Bologna. Offering numerous single origin coffees and selling its own brand of chocolate alongside cakes, sweets and miniature chocolates, Caffe Terzi is a treasure trove of delights. Hustling at the bar along with the other patrons, we order up a couple of Ethiopian Grade 1 Yirgacheffe espressos from the collection on the back bar.
Arriving with strong almond aromas this was a distinctly different espresso from the one at Caffe Aroma. Pulled slightly longer this espresso was more rounded and less bright featuring complex and rounded white floral and almond flavours with a clean finish. This was a pretty distinguished espresso and I could see why it had made it to the top of the price list.
Heading back out in to Bologna we couldn’t ignore the hot chocolate machine whirring in the back and so ordered up a cup of the dark molten chocolate to take with us as we explored. Needless to say there’s a very obvious difference between Italian hot chocolate and the hot chocolate you tend to get everywhere else. Thick, hot, flavoursome and unmistakably chocolatey it was difficult not to go back for another.
Via G. Oberdan 10/d
Bologna 40100 Italia
There were a number of places in Bologna selling quality food items, many selling quality chocolate items too, but with Enoteca Italiana, its cross between being a shop, deli and eatery caught our attention alongside the produce it kept for sale.
Here amongst eating some delightful cheese and sampling a couple of fantastic wines from the many they sell by the glass, we were able to pick up a very reasonably priced Porcelana bar by Domori to eat on the train to Venice to make that short journey go just that little bit quicker.
Via Marsala, 2,
40126 Bologna, Italy
Arriving early into Venice and still carrying our bags, Caffe Del Doge was between us and our hotel, so we popped in to give us some energy to continue wandering the narrow streets and visually arresting canals of Venice for the day.
Just of the main street, it’d be easy to miss Caffe Del Doge, although you shouldn’t. With a number of lesser cafes dotting the main streets, it’s worth ducking into the alley to find this gem. Stepping inside its a fairly roomy traditional caffe, relaxed only due to the numbers inside of mainly Italian patrons. Not quite the shouty hustle at the counter you’d expect of an Italian coffeebar, even though it should be.
Browsing the origins, I stayed true to my traditions and ordered up an Ethiopian espresso as if to directly compare the various caffes we’d visited. Arriving with aromas of buttery nuts or more precisely macadamias, it had flavours of white florals and biscotti with some macadamia in the finish. Juicy and lightly creamy it strayed from the syrupy espressos I’d become accustomed to in Italy. Suitably encouraged we made our way to find our hotel.
Venezia Rialto, Calle dei Cinque, San Polo, 609,
30100 Venezia, Italy
Leaving Venice the next morning after our short stop we grabbed our bags once again and attempted to dip in for some coffee before our trip to the airport. Passing Torrefazione Canneregio we dove into the hustle at the bar to attempt to order some coffee. With their roaster in the back working away and a full throng of locals and tourists alike at the bar we shouted in our order and waited at the side for it to arrive.
Ordering a Colombian espresso this time, it arrived with plum and red grape aromas, which when tasted developed into bright plums with a chocolate and liquorice finish with a sweet and syrupy mouthfeel. Prepped for our trip home, we picked up our bags and headed to the airport.
Sestiere Cannaregio, 1337,