The historic market of Rialto in Venice, Italy.
Carlos S. Pereyra / age fotostock
Near the base of the landmark Rialto Bridge, the historic Rialto Market is well worth a wander. Seek it out in the early morning when it provides an authentic local experience (and awesome social-media ops), with fishmongers hawking their fresh seafood catches and local produce merchants setting out seasonal fruits and vegetables. When you’ve finished exploring, go grab breakfast and a strong coffee at one of the nearby trattorias. If you’re a real foodie, consider exploring Rialto Market with a local guide who can delve into the history and also introduce you to Venice street food.
There’s a lot to see in Venice. And a legion of streets to stroll and bridges to cross. So much so that the historic and bountiful Rialto Market is easy to ignore. Seek it out. In the morning it’s bustling with fishmongers selling their morning catches, yelling out the names in Venetian dialect.
Have you been here? Tell us about it below!
Have you been here? Tell us about it below!
Pescheria (Fish) Market, Venice
Most tourists get to Venice‘s famous Rialto Bridge, but how many cross to the right bank of the Grand Canal to experience the Erberia (vegetable market) and the Pescheria (fish market)? Elbowing my way through the crowds on the Rialto was worth the effort when I found these local markets, where locals and restaurant chefs shop. My only regret was that I didn’t have a refrigerator in my room, because the produce and seafood were exquisite. Known for their delicious seafood dishes, Venetians shop for their frutti di mare on the day the plan to serve it. The Pescheria was the perfect spot to find photo opportunities of locals haggling with the fishmongers. The markets near the Rialto Bridge are open Tuesday through Saturday. To get there, take a vaporetto on the Grand Canal to the Rialto stop. Cross over the bridge and follow the crowds to the right where you’ll first see the Erberia. Farther along will be the Pescheria.
Frutti di mare at Rialto Market
Most tourists get to Venice’s famous Rialto Bridge, but how many cross to the right bank of the Grand Canal to experience the Pescheria (fish market)? Elbowing my way through the crowds on the Rialto was worth the effort when I found the local market, where both locals and restaurant chefs shop. Known for their delicious seafood dishes, Venetians shop for their frutti di mare on the day the plan to serve it. The Pescheria was the perfect spot to find photo opportunities of locals haggling with the fishmongers. The markets near the Rialto Bridge are open Tuesday through Saturday. To get there, take a vaporetto on the Grand Canal to the Rialto stop. Cross over the bridge and follow the crowds to the right where you’ll first see the Erberia. Farther along will be the Pescheria.
Scallops to Admire, Not to Eat
When one thinks of Venice, images of gondolas and canals, Piazza San Marco, and perhaps Carnevale come to mind. Certainly, these have been the most photographed icons of this unique tourist destination. But, what about something that’s off the beaten path? This summer, my family visited Venice and, at the recommendation of our b&b owner, stopped at the Mercato di Rialto. Just off the Rialto bridge along the Grand Canal, this market is a favorite of locals, where one can find fresh, gorgeous fruits -- the sweetest cantaloupe I have tasted -- vegetables in all shapes and sizes, and all kinds of seafood in the Pescheria (fish market). Exotic fish, giant octopus, slimy squid, and these colorful, shapely scallops, called cappesante. Just beautiful! I’ve bought scallops before, but just the white meat. I don’t remember ever seeing the actual shells. When you’re tired of being jostled by the crowds in all the usual tourist spots, a stroll through the Mercato will give you a glimpse into the unhurried and tasteful lives of Venetians.
Crowds are tamer in the winter and it’s just as beautiful, if not more when they deck out the streets with Christmas lights
Venice Fish Market
Get up before sunrise and head to the Rialto fish market to see fresh catches be unloaded from fishing boats, and sold to restaurants & locals. The architecture is beautiful, the smells are wonderful, and the people are very friendly. End by grabbing some fresh croissants, fruits, and head back to your home base for breakfast and a siesta.
Shop Like a Local at Rialto Market in Venice
I love experiencing a new city or town through its local market. The main market in Venice, Mercato di Rialto is no exception, it was one of my favorite places on the island. It’s full of sun and fresh air, I like that it’s not enclosed. To find the market, take vaporetto #2 down the Grand Canal and disembark at the Rialto stop, cross the big white bridge and follow the masses. Make sure to visit in the morning, when the market is fully stocked and the locals are doing their daily shopping!
The Rialto Markets - the heart (and belly) of Venice
The Erbaria is an open-air arcade filled with stalls displaying a remarkable variety of vibrant fruit and vegetables, many of which, like the tiny purple Sant’Erasmo artichokes, Bassano white asparagus, and radicchio from Treviso, are unique to the Veneto region. The vibe at the Pescaria is more shock and awe. If you’re used to buying seafood on a shrink-wrapped styrofoam tray in your local grocery store then be ready to have your mind blown. I had never seen such a fascinating variety of sea creatures – some alive like the hordes of silver-dollar sized crabs clawing at each other’s backs, or the snake-like eels writhing angrily in shallow buckets, while others, like the grey mullet, were just beginning to stiffen with the first signs of rigor mortis. In some stalls, monkfish were displayed belly up to hide their notoriously ugly faces, while in others, glistening mounds of baby octopus lay cozied up to piles of inky-black squid. Authentic, historic and fascinating. This is where Venetians have shopped for nearly a thousand years.
This water goddess of a city is known for her fish—and the Venice Fishmarket is a mecca for Venetian foodies. Located just past the Rialto’s vegetable market, you’ll find fish of all colors and sizes as well as incredibly fresh shellfish—all displayed like an aquatic still life. The film, The Wings of a Dove, based on Henry James’ famous Venice-based novel, has a wonderful fishmarket scene if you’d like to see before you smell. When you’re done browsing, head to one of the little side-street restaurants and order squid ink pasta with mussels (a local favorite).
This bustling open-air market is where you’ll find fresh local produce at its best. From ugly fruits that taste amazing (Italy doesn’t go in for polishing large, tasteless apples) to fish of all types and stripes, foodies will love the Venice Rialto food markets if, for nothing else, the photo opportunities. There are plenty of trattorias nearby so when you get tired of looking, go eat.