I’ve been coming to Venice for 18 years and have made it out to some of the other islands, but it took me this long to finally visit Sant’Erasmo, where lots of Venice’s fresh produce is grown. My classmate Jo’anne invited me to join her on a day trip that started at Le Vignole where we walked the one path to the opposite side of the island, and then hopped back onto the boat to Sant’Erasmo.
Jo’Anne admires a Sant’Erasmo canal.
The sun was bright and hot, and the crickets were chirping up a racket. So much for getting away to a quiet island! We crossed the island to its opposite side and saw the fort (and no, I didn’t look up its history, and it was locked, so I couldn’t see any more).
We continued a bit further and found the little beach, with its two cute huts.
A bunch of boats were moored maybe 20 feet out into the water, with families hanging out on the sand or in their vessels.
Jo’anne and I parked ourselves in the outdoor patio of the caffe/restaurant Tedesco (why is it called German??). We got a bottle of fragolino, a special fresh wine made at Sant’Erasmo, kind of sweet and fizzy and in bottles without labels. (Anthony Bourdain does an episode where he visits Sant’ Erasmo and tells viewers that drinking too much fragolino will cause blindness.)
What is more lovely than this??
The other tables were occupied by a pair of old guys playing cards, and another table with four old guys drinking fragolino (who saluted us when they saw our bottle). Two teenaged girls in their bikinis couldn’t sit still and walked to and fro or stood in the water up to their knees while they text messaged. Jo’anne and I couldn’t resist having our photo taken by them as they giggled at us.
We were ready for food, and not just the beach fare at the Tedesco, so we walked back to the inn we had passed on our way in. There’s apparently a quite nice restaurant on Sant’Erasmo that has a bunch of reviews posted online, but that’s not the place we visited. We ate at the Lato Azzurro:
where you can also rent bikes. But we entered, and the three old guys there (are there no older women on Sant’Erasmo??) called the waiter out to serve us. I regret that I didn’t get his name, because he was so wonderful and treated us so well. There’s no menu; he told us the options, and when we asked about vegetarian options, he added some more things that he could make for us.
We got an appetizer with sardines, bacala, and salmon plus creamy eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes. Really delicious and a huge serving. I rashly ordered the orata (a kind of fish) and when it arrived I was already pretty full. We had to apologize to the waiter that we didn’t finish the antipasti because we knew more food was coming. He was afraid that we didn’t like it! Just the opposite! My fish arrived in his full glory–an entire fish, head and tail and fins, and with a belly stuffed with parsley and garlic. I wasn’t quite ready for this. (I’m vegetarian and eat fish rarely but thought this would be a special occasion.) But the preparation was excellent, and that little fishy was not going to have died in vain. When I couldn’t finish that dish either, the waiter was even more worried, and I tried my best in Italian to assure him that everything was delicious. So he packed it up in a to go box! (That was tonight’s dinner.)
We finished the meal with little tumblers of grappa that the waiter insisted on bringing (and not charging for). It was home-made by his friend there on Sant’Erasmo, using the fragolino grapes. I generally abhor grappa (yes, I mean to use this strong word!) but this stuff was really good! It was really a special day.
I hope more people consider a trip out to Sant’Erasmo–and tell the waiter that we really loved the food, even if we couldn’t finish the big portions!