Traveler's Test

Whеn in Venice, drink wine in the shade (ombra)

Whеn in Venice, drink wine in the shade (ombra)

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The challenge: Order wine in Venice like a local

You don’t order wine in Venice, saying “a glass of wine” (un bicchiere di vino). If you are a local or a well-prepared traveler, then you know that you should order “a shade of wine” (un’ombra di vino). Jot down this phrase in your travel notebook and use it during your next dinner in Venice.

But why, why do Venetians dare to call wine with words other than “wine”?

Why do Venetians drink wine in the shade – the story

Back in the old days, legend has it, wine merchants at Piazza San Marco would move their stalls throughout the day to stay out of the sun, in the shadow of the bell tower. The shadow moved – the merchant moved too. Besides, who would drink warm or spoiled wine!

And so instead of “go and grab a glass of wine” people started saying “go and grab some shade”. And everybody knew what it meant.

Federico Beccari

Ombra today – what is essential to know

Nowadays many of the historic wine bars in Venice contain “ombra” in their name. And as you can guess, it’s not called a wine tour – it’s an ombra tour.

Have in mind that usuallyun’ombra di vino” means a small glass (100 ml) of wine. That’s why you will happily find that you can get an ombra for a very reasonable price. Combine with cicchetti – sandwiches, boiled eggs, olives or vegetables to have as a side dish with the wine.

Venetians know this stuff. The only thing you can do is find your own wine shade.


  • comment-avatar

    Go and grab some shade. I love that! What an interesting article! Thanks for teaching me something new today!

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    I loved the story behind the ‘Shade of wine’. An informative post.

  • comment-avatar

    I never knew that, but it makes so much sense doesn’t it when you hear the story.

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    I feel like I am both a well seasoned wine drinker and Italy traveler, and I did not know this! I like it! Uggg its only 11am and I could go for a glass of vino! or ombra!

  • comment-avatar

    I love the expression, I wonder if other areas use this as well or if it’s exclusive to Venice?

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      As far as we understood in Venice, it is something unique, related to Venice only. That makes drinking wine so much more special 😉

  • comment-avatar

    Brilliant idea for a post ! What a lovely story behind the “Shade of wine” 🙂 Now, I need to find my own wine shade.

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    I love this! What an adorable little story! Going to Venice next summer and now I can order wine properly, so thanks for that!

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    Jennifer 6 years ago

    I agree! I have recently found that eating olives whilst having a really nice glass of wine is the best combination.

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