locanda cipriani {torcello – venice}

I know it’s still winter. Lots of rain yet to come, and cold as well. It’s even supposed to snow here in Rome on Saturday (fingers crossed.)

But even though I love the crisp cold of winter winter, and would just die of happiness if it snowed, somehow I’m also thinking about Spring. Walks in the country. Getting my garden going. In the meantime I make do. I stop by the local flower stand to buy a bunch of tulips. And since I’m  at my computer more often than not, I search my own photo library for key words like “flower’, ‘gardens’, and ‘spring.’ (yup. That’s what I do. Sit around looking at pretty pictures)

The other day, during a particularly dismal downpour, a photo of a flower-bedecked garden in front of a Romanesque church popped up on my screen. And immediately I was transported from rainy Rome back to a perfect Spring day on the island of Torcello in the Venetian lagoon. Where I had not only a delicious lunch, but one of those sun and flower-filled days whose memories get you through the worst of winter.

Dining at Locanda Cipriani is not really all about the food. It’s got no hot young chef, nor does it do much on the creative side. But having a meal here can be one of the most magical Venetian experiences, even if it is a bit on the touristy side.

The Locanda Cipriani was opened by Arrigo Cipriani in 1934. That would be the same guy who brought you Harry’s Bar and the Hotel Cipriani. Legend has it that he fell in love with the Island of Torcello (who doesn’t?) and decided to open a small restaurant and hotel. The place is today owned by Arrigo’s nephew.

Locanda Cipriani shot to fame through Hemmingway, who loved the place, and wrote one of his novels while staying in one of their six rooms. After the war, partly due to his influence, it started to become a hot stop for stars and the dolce vita.

While stars still may come here, you’re more likely to find high end tourists from American, Russia and Germany.

And the food? Really very, very good. Not cheap, but not silly expensive either. The service is impeccable and the entire experience of a trip out to Torcello to see the Romanesque church, have a walk along the pathways that bisect the fields and finally lunch in the Cipriani’s garden is unique.

What to order? Start off with a Bellini. Please. Remember, it was Arrigo Cipriani who invented this heavenly concoction of peach puree and prosecco. While every bar and restaurant serves them now in Venice, rarely to you get one so good. Made with only fresh peaches, of course.

This is the place to stick to Venetian classics. Moeche (soft shelled crabs ) if they are in season. Small, baby artichokes grown on the nearby island of San Erasmus are gently sauteed with wild mint. All of their seafood pastas and risottos are pitch perfect. And I have to say that the cannochie (a type of local crayfish) were the best I’ve had in Venice: fresh, plump and drizzled with fruity olive oil.

And if you just can’t bear to leave? Don’t worry, they have a half dozen hotel rooms. (Maybe you have a novel you’d like to write?)

There. Mission accomplished. Via this virtual photo trip, I think I’ve managed to fast forward to Spring for just a little while.

Locanda Cipriani
+39 041 730150

For more about eating in Venice, download my app, EAT VENICE, at iTunes.

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  1. Engred says

    Thank you Elizabeth for this post! It brought back memories of a wonderful lunch we had there a couple of years ago, basking in the sun and enjoying a very civilized meal. Glad to see you enjoy it also, in spite of the tourists like us!

    Just what I needed on a chilly February morning in Portland! :-)

  2. Deb says

    If I would have had your app. a few years ago, we wouldn’t have discovered this was closed on the one day we decided to discover (beautiful) Torcello.
    Next time!

  3. says

    I know this blog is well over a year old & perhaps my comment are unnecessary but I am compelled nonetheless to add them. I came across it this morning while doing a little browsing before sitting down to continue my writing. While I would never fashion myself a Hemingway, I too am staying at Locanda Cipriani whilst I put the finishing touches on the second book in a series of ten I am writing.

    I commend you on the wonderful tale you tell but I need to point out your one & only error. The hotel was indeed opened in 1934, not by Arrigo Cipriani, but by his father Giuseppe. Arrigo is indeed a very capable man, but as he was born in 1932 it is doubtful that he was calling the shots at the hotel at age two! Arrigo is indeed the owner, not only of Locanda Cipriani but of Harry’s Bar as well on via Vallaresso in Venezia.

    The hotel was actually run by Giuseppe’s wife Giulietta. She retired after Giuseppe died in 1980, turning the day-to-day over to her daughter, Carlina. Carlina is Arrigo’s sister. When Carlina passed, the hotel management was taken over by her son Bonifacio Brass, who runs it to this day.

    Please…my intentions are not to ‘rub your nose’, but rather to compliment your wonderful story by correcting course a bit. I beg your forgiveness if I have offended.

    Giacomino Nicolazzo
    Montecalvo, Italy

    Author of Terra d’Amore. An Italian Story

    The hotel & restaurant are currently run by his nephew Bonafacio Brass

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