It’s best to arrive early to the markets, especially the fish market – the barges start unloading the catch at dawn, and many vendors are closed by midday.
Sitting proudly in the central Venetian district of Rialto is a superb collection of markets that are nearly as old as the city itself, having been in continuous operation since 1097. Here you can find an enormous variety of excellent-quality fruit, vegetables, meat and especially seafood. The age-old hustle and bustle of these thriving mercantile centres is a Venetian institution in itself, and even for those who aren’t looking to buy anything, simply watching the daily goings-on is quite a spectacle.
Cornering the Market
In the 16th century, a large swathe of Rialto was destroyed in a fire, and an extensive rebuilding project was initiated. This included creating a dedicated, more permanent market area that would be divided up into sections, to replace the more haphazard placing of stalls that had preceded the fire. Evidence of this plan can be seen in the names of the small streets and campos: Erberia (fruit and vegetables), Speziali (spices), Naranzeria (oranges) and, most famously, Pescaria (fish).
The Freshest and Best
Here in the fish market you can find gleaming sardines, anchovies, skate, octopi, squid, sea bream, lobster, crab, mussels and many more, all freshly caught and mouth-wateringly delicious. They are brought in from far and wide, but locally caught produce is specifically labelled “Nostrano”. If you’re feeling peckish, there are plenty of nearby eateries where you can grab seafood cichetti (small traditional sandwiches) made with fish caught that very same day.
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