Wooden ducks on a table in hunting lodge

“La Serenissima” and duck shooting

Dawn flight of wigeon, mallard and teal

“La Serenissima” and duck shooting: live like Hemingway did in the 1940s. It is now possible to stay in the Gritti and shoot wild wigeon, teal and mallard. The wild duck hunting season in Italy opens on the third Sunday of September and ends on 31st January.

Grand Canal Venice + Gritti Palace Hotel
Grand Canal in Venice + Terrace of the Gritti

Few places in the world beat Venice for the pleasure of a short stay

There are very few places in the world can beat “La Serenissima” for the pleasure of a short stay. It is a concentration of beautiful buildings, bridges and curiosities; outstanding gastronomy as well as excellent local wines. A stay in Venice is also excellent for your health. Nowhere else in the world are you required to walk so much in a car-free environment. The city is indeed very serene and its wild duck shooting (mallard, teal and wigeon) on the lagoon world famous.

Hemingway wrote “Across the River and into the Trees” while in “La Serenissima”

Hemingway loved the Gritti Palace Hotel. It is where he wrote Across the River and into the Trees”. The Griiti was a good base for his duck shooting expeditions that he enjoyed during the winters of 1948-1950. By then he had learned that Venice was at its best during the fall and winter months.

Not much has changed with regards to hunting duck in “La Serenissima” over the years

Not much has changed with regards to La Serenessima and duck shooting since Hemingway’s day. Indeed little has changed since the 18th century, when Pietro Longhi painted his “Scena di cacciatore in laguna” shown below. Albeit the bow and arrow has now been replaced with a shotgun!

Eating duck post hunting in La Serenissima

Trattoria alla Maddalena
Fondamente di Santa Caterina, 7b, 30142 Venezia VE, Italy +39.041.730.151

Feast on fresh-caught fish and seafood and wash it down with Italian wine during a leisurely summer lunch at Alla Maddalena on Mazzorbo Island. A 45-minute ferry ride from Venice and far removed from the crowds, this charming, less touristy and altogether tiny island in the Venice lagoon is wonderful place to escape for an afternoon. Alla Maddalena serves amazing fried fish as well as top-notch mussels and clams in the back garden or by the canal. The trattoria is famous for its handmade pastas and seasonal ingredients from fruits to locally hunted game like wild duck. (Mazzorbo is a short walk across footbridge from Burano Island, so if you’re planning a trip to Burano, you can add a stop here for dinner).

A tasty recipe from La Serenissima: Duck ragu with pappardelle

Pappardelle with the Venetian ragu of wild duck
Pappardelle with the Venetian ragu of wild duck

How to make Venetian Duck Ragu – step by step

Season the duck with salt and pepper then rub it all over with cinnamon. Sear it skin down first in a large pan with a little olive oil on a medium to low heat for 7-8 minutes on each side until browned, set aside on a plate.

Add finely chopped carrot, onion and celery, orange zest, bay leaf and ½ teaspoon cinnamon with a touch more olive oil and saute slowly for 10 minutes, stirring often until the vegetables are soft.

Add the duck back to the pan and add the wine, reduce the wine by half then add the orange juice, pureed tomatoes (passata), tomato paste and stock stir to combine all the ingredients and simmer slowly for 2 hours turning the duck round halfway through

Published on November 26, 2023