As magical as the city of Venice is, La Serenissima doesn’t have the best reputation for eating out. Sure, there are some legendary restaurants such as Harry’s Bar and the Cipriani, but in the whole finding good, good-value food happens more by accident that design. Luckily Venice does have one the country’s great fresh produce markets; the Rialto.
Spilling out from the streets underneath the famous bridge of the same name, shopping at the Rialto market is one of the most ‘local’ experiences you can have in Venice. The Rialto market is closely entwined in the city’s history and has occupied its position near the banks of the Grand Canal for almost a millennium. As Venetian merchants established their trading networks across the Adriatic and beyond, the Rialto area became an important commercial hub. And although the Rialto market has reduced greatly in size since Venice’s Golden Age, it still puts on one of the city’s greatest shows.
By dawn, large barges arrive carrying fruit, vegetables and fish, which leads to a cacophony of screaming as vendors bargain for the best prices. Huge carts of produce are then hauled to either the Erberia (fruit and vegetable market) or the Pescheria (or fish market in the Campo della Pechora) and trading begins. Fish from the lagoon of course is one the region’s great culinary gifts. At the Pescheria (closed on Mondays) you’ll see tangled bundles of sardines (used in the ubiquitous sarde in soar, or marinated sardines) and eels, creamy white cuttlefish and squid and tiny crabs, the essential ingredients of the fritto misto.
Depending on the season, at the Erberia you’ll come across, violet heads of radicchio (an endive-like vegetable famous in the Veneto), piles of bright yellow zucchini flowers, trimmed artichokes and peas in their pod, which are snapped up to make the classic Venetian comfort food dish; risi e bisi. There are some great alimentari in the market as well, especially along the Ruga Vecchia and the workers’ bars along the Calle do Mori, where you can snack on cichetti, or tapas-like morsels. The Rialto market pretty closes shop by 1pm, when the kitsch and souvenir sellers take over. But your memories of colours, smells and ambiance of the most authentic ‘attractions’ in the city will be well worth the effort. All you need to know about the Rialto Market in Venice! Interested in Accommodation in central Venice.