You can’t stay in Venice without having walked around the stalls of the Rialto Market. In antiquity it was the center of trade and commerce, of precious goods coming from all the territory of the Serenissima. Today it’s a reference point for Venetians and connoisseurs of good food, the heart of Venice’s food and wine.
In this article we want you to discover one of the food and wine attractions of the city, the first market in what was once called Rivo Alto, the cradle of the whole island. Today the Rialto market remains an institution for Venetians and lovers of good food; here you will find in particular fish products of all kinds and of great quality.
The history of the Rialto Market, discovering the heart of Venice’s food and wine
The art of the fishermen was very respected by the Government of the Serenissima. Together with the “compravendipesce” (fish and seafood trade), they were entitled to take part in the Council meetings and spoke on matters concerning the lagoon, defense and conservation of fish stocks. Fishermen arrived at dawn on the “bragozzi”, very large typical boats, at the Palo di Rialto where the fishmongers selected the products. The control was very scrupulous because the judiciary had clearly ordered to eliminate the rotten fish.
The minimum weights and measures of the fish sold were registered on a marble stele which is still affixed on the entrance of the lodge that houses the covered market. You can read the names of all Venetian fish and ancient units used by the Serenissima.
At the time Venice was a crossroads of trade between East and West and this led to a wealth of goods that could be bought in the market. Here you could find precious spices, precious metals and much more. The market was in fact divided into Erbaria, Naranzeria, Beccaria, Casaria, Pescaria, Ruga degli Oresi and Ruga degli Spezieri, each section was dedicated to the sale of a different type of goods.
Curiosity: before the construction of the famous Rialto Bridge the market was connected with a bridge made of boats called “Ponte della Moneta”.
The Rialto market today: discovering the heart of Venice’s food and wine
Today the ancient tradition of the Rialto market is still alive, here you can breathe a lively and traditional atmosphere. Every day until noon you will find the best fruits of the Venice Lagoon and the upper Adriatic, a sea that offers a wide variety of fish species.
Not far from the covered fish market you will find fruit and vegetable stalls that display their products in a creative way. Here you will run into cascades of chillies and exotic fruits, but also roast chestnuts that in winter are a real remedy against the cold.
In the adjacent Erbaria there are many bacars where you can taste the typical Venetian spritz “a pochi schei” (cheap)! The most famous is definitely the Bancogiro, which also has a plateau on the Grand Canal from where you can enjoy the view of the Rialto Bridge.
Ready to discover the tastes and smells of the Rialto Market? Let me know in the comments what is the thing that struck you the most!