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When I was asked about where to have a nice typical breakfast in Venice, I was a bit confused.
Why? Well, in Italy we do not have breakfast, or at least we do not have breakfast the way other people usually have it. For a Venetian, morning calories are usually consumed in the form of sweet things: a shot of espresso coffee or a cappuccino and maybe (but only maybe) a small croissant (called brioche) or a small doughnut (called krafen or bombolone, depending on which part of Italy you’re in) and fruit.
If your hotel doesn’t provide breakfast, then you should head down to a local bar (there is one in every corner in Venice) and order an espresso or cappuccino and a freshly baked croissant or krafen.
Important: Make sure to have your coffee and pastry at the counter because it will be much cheaper than sitting down. If you take a table, you will be charged extra for table service. At the bar, you can experience a very quick breakfast, Italian-style.
If you prefer a longer and more relaxing breakfast, then head to a local pasticceria (cake shop) where they have some small tables and get yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea (make sure to order milk with it, otherwise it will come with lemon) and a nice freshly baked pastry. In Venice, go for a bignè al cioccolato (a choux pastry filled with chocolate cream) or a slice of strudel. This will be a bit more expensive, but the cakes are worth trying.
Here are three of my favorite pasticcerie:
Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo
Tel: +39 (0)41 5227949
This is one of the oldest bakeries in Venice, dating back to the 19th century. Here you can try a large selection of typical Venetian cakes, cookies, brioches, rolls, sandwiches, tramezzini (a typical Venetian triangle soft bread sandwich), fritters, meringues, millefeuilles and much more.
Campo San Pantalon, just at the back of Chiesa di San Rocco near Frari
Tel: +39 (0)41 5237209
Hours: Tues-Sat 7:45 AM – 8 PM, Sun 7:45 AM -1 PM
Pasticceria Tonolo is usually ambushed with customers on Sunday mornings. (Italians often buy cakes on a Sunday to take as presents for whatever lunch they might be invited to.) Expect long lines, but wait with patience: It is worth it!
If you’re in Venice around Christmas, try the focaccia (a special Venetian sweet bread). At Carnival time, try the frittelle. Bignè alla crema (cream puffs) are a good choice all year-round.
Piazza San Marco 56-59
+39 (0)41 5205641
Caffe Florian in St. Mark’s Square is the oldest café in Italy and one of the oldest in Europe. It’s a great place for an upmarket late breakfast or brunch. It will not be cheap, though you cannot compare the location and the setting to any other in the world. The café offers also a whole menu dedicated to breakfast, with all kinds of dishes and drinks. Try their selection of teas and pastries: You will not be disappointed.
Note: This article was updated on July 24, 2014 with new information, links and photos.