Valeria Necchio is a food and travel writer with a passion for Venetian cuisine, as Veneto is her region of origin. She returned to Veneto after studying enogastronomic communication in Piedmont and living in London for several years, where she worked in communication and marketing for the world of food.
We have known Valeria for a few years: thanks to fortunate meetings through people and interesting projects we built a special friendship, which gets stronger after every shared coffee break, city event, or casual encounter in our Venetian calli!
Hi Valeria! From this brief presentation of yours, it is immediately clear that the world of food and wine completely surrounds and entices you. If you think about the cuisine of your (our!) territory, which dish is the one you hold dearest to your heart? The one closest to a memory or a special place you will always remember? And finally… Which wine would you choose to accompany it?
Hello! This question always thrills me! One of the dishes I am most fond of surely is pasta with beans. It is not a very glamorous dish, it is kind of “beige”, but it always warms my heart and never tires me. The one from my childhood smells of parsley and beaten lard; it is made with borlotti beans expertly taken, and conserved for the winter, from our vegetable garden. It has an uplifting smell and it makes you more comfortable with each spoonful. It is the Venetian dish par excellence, and for this exact reason, I would choose a red Venetian wine to accompany it. More precisely, it would be a cut of merlot and cabernet from the Euganei hills: with its simplicity, it would perfectly suit such a rural dish.
But let’s start from the beginning! When and how did you understand that your passion was strong enough to become a job?
I understood it at the end of my three years of university. I was studying linguistic mediation, and for a while, I was convinced I would have liked to become a translator. Then I just let myself get pulled by this incredible, almost anthropologic interest in food. I liked writing about it, taking pictures of it, cooking it, trying it, and finding out new things about it. So I told myself that it was probably worth making something more about it, rather than just experiencing it as a passion.
Now a personal question that we often like to ask because it always has surprising answers. Why did you choose to live in Venice? What pushes you to make the sacrifices necessary to stay on the island?
I am, as many would say, a Venetian from the countryside, so for a long period I only experienced Venice as any daily visitor would: in a partial and limited way. I had never thought of making it my city until a few years ago. I spent a significant amount trying to run away from “home” – I wanted to see what else was there. Then, a series of personal events, the pandemic, and Brexit, had me missing home, even though my Londoner experience taught me something about myself: I liked urban, lifeful and international places. I thought Venice was perfect for me, the right mix between a small community and huge comings and goings of people from different parts of the world, between tradition and internationality, between roots and new perspectives. It was easy to choose it and feel a part of it. There are so many things to do here in Venice, both to keep yourself occupied and to contribute to the city’s well-being. This feeling of being welcome as an active agent inside the community is just beautiful, a freshening sensation, at least for me. I have looked for it in the past and I only found it here. That’s why, despite the difficulties, I stay and I keep loving it.
Just as your education’s path had you travelling, so you accompany people into the exploration of Venice and Veneto with your passion, through pictures and writings. Would you like to tell us about a personal project you particularly enjoyed?
Well, that would surely be the project for my book Veneto (Faber). The book came out in 2017, after two years of work, but it encloses three decades of personal and intergenerational stories from my family, among of course other recipes that I had collected through the years. I think of it as a small memoir and recipe book, as it is both a collection of memories and recipes. What most impressed me in these five years after its publication is that many readers not only like the recipes but can also see themselves in the stories, as they remind them something about their lives, a trip they did, a dish they tried… And this always makes me most happy!
And now let’s test your “Venetian citizenship”! A bar, a sestiere, and a time of the day that you prefer in Venice.
I am afraid I am not a morning person. Unfortunately so, because early morning is the most magical time in Venice. There are residents and students walking left and right, boats carrying supplies to shops, and dogs running free: it is a slice of real life. Although, since I do not experience it all that much, I am going to say the evening, when the calli empty a little bit and the city gets back to itself. My favourite sestiere is Cannaregio. I love the area between Santi Apostoli and Ormesini, with all its interesting spots. Among them are the resurrected bacaro for beers and sandwiches; Vino Vero or La Sete for a glass or two; Osteria Giorgione da Masa for a dinner that goes from Venice to Japan (and back); and Rioba or Anice Stellato for a couple of well-cooked dishes with great raw materials and excellent wines.
See you soon!