Al Bottegon was born as a wine shop (bottegon means store in Venetian dialect) and I always smell the past and the traditions of a century-old family who has been running the business for generations. The interior is very particular: the walls are full of bottles of every kind of wine – from the homemade wines of the region to the better harvests. This is the only place left in the old center of Venice where you can find fine bottles of gin and liquors of all kinds.
Every corner is adorned with wooden barrels; one in particular is 4 meters in diameter and acts as entrance to another room.
This place is not a bar. There are no toilets, but it is a must to drink a “shade of wine” (in Venetians means a glass of wine according to the tradition of merchants who move following the shadow of S.Mark’s bell tower to stay out of the sun while drinking) at 1 euro and taste a cicchetto, right there where they were invented!
Indeed, for centuries Venetians used to accompany their glass of wine with bread and creamed cod. This store owners thought to offer something different to their customers: Why not try to top the bread with other Venetian specialties? This idea was very successful and soon all the other bars in Venice began to imitate them. Today each bar has a counter full of cicchetti made with every type of ingredients (from salami to octopus, caviar or cheese).