San Marino / Venice, Italy

  • Date
  • 9 November 1999
  • Lodging
  • Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal
  • Distance
  • 315 KM
  • Total
  • 46377 KM

There is only one Harry’s Bar no matter how many ‘outposts’ try to replicate this place. And Harry’s Bar is a true landmark in Venice with a splendid history I learned while in Venice.

Short version: In 1929 Giuseppe Cipriani was a barman at the Hotel Europa and had a steady American customer, Harry Pickering, who came upon hard times. Giuseppe loaned Pickering 10,000 lire (about US$5,000) and two years later Pickering repaid the loan with an additional 40,000 lire in appreciation – enough to open a bar said Pickering and it should be named ‘Harry’s Bar’. Giuseppe leapt at this idea.

Seventy years later, the bar and restaurant (still run by the Cipriani family) attract artists, writers, the ‘senators’ who have been showing up every mid-day for as long as they can remember, rich people, famous visitors, dignitaries, food connoisseurs, drink connoisseurs, locals and first-timers like Jim and me.

The small first floor with the bar and seating is almost cozy with simple elegance in the surroundings. Upstairs where we dined there are two small rooms just as luxurious yet comfortable as the downstairs. The service at Harry’s Bar is among the best with attentive men dressed in white coats serving up wonderful pasta, risotto, seafood and meat. And of course, the famous Harry’s Bar cocktail, the Bellini.

Deciding what to eat was difficult since the menu offered extensive choices. We opted to share a small mixed salad and then I ate a first course serving of pasta with bacon in tomato sauce (the pasta was tagliarelle). This rich dish was delicious, but better tasting than looking. Jim ate grilled sole and then we shared another dish. We didn’t plan on this, but I saw it being served and it looked scrumptious – parmesan risotto with dainty veal pieces in a thick tomato sauce. This was the absolute best food I ate in Italy. We drank a Soave – a dry white wine from this region, which I liked less than Jim did.

If you have the time (and money – they aren’t bashful about charging hefty prices for food and drink) for just a short stop at Harry’s Bar make your way inside and feel how the place invites you to share its history.