For the Venice habitué when you say “Rialto” it is not just the bridge the first thing that comes to mind, but the fish market just off the famous bridge.
Rialto Bridge is the undisputed symbol of the city and one of the most iconic bridges in Venice, the Rialto market also has another architectural structure to see nearby: the Loggia where the market is held.
“Rialto no se toca” = “Rialto cannot be touched”
“Mile ani de pescaria non se buta via” = “A thousand years of Fish Market cannot be thrown away”
These are the slogans found on the walls of the Rialto market, the oldest in Venice, a place of exchange of goods since 1097.
Since 1907 it has hosted by the neo-gothic palace of the Pescaria and today it struggles with the evils of the city on the Lagoon: depopulation and the onslaught of “hit and run” tourism and of course the Acqua Alta or high water. Which has repeatedly put the market stalls to the test, but they have not thrown in the towel.
The Neo-Gothic style of the loggia is in perfect harmony with the surrounding buildings and the capitals of the columns were sculpted on the basis of drawings made by the painter Cesare Laurenti.
Each [column] capital, in fact, is different, and each represents a subject linked to the world of fishing, such as fish, boats and seahorses.
Rialto market: one of the oldest in Italy
The market, divided between the Loggia della Pescheria and the Campo de l’Erbaria (Piazza delle Erbe), is still today an essential place for the traveler and the beating heart of a district, Rialto originally Rivo Alto, one of the oldest in the city . On the walls of the Logge you can still see the minimum lengths of the different fishes, established under the Doge: sardella 7 cm, sea bass 12.
In the past, the Loggia della Pescheria was crowded with stalls, now there are six or seven remaining that proudly resist the economic crisis and the troubles of the city.
The stalls are divided between two factions: those who would like the market to go back to being what it once was, more stalls, more people, more purchases and those who, more aware of the changing society, would be ready even for a small revolution. Like for example starting to offer fried fish and on-the-go fast food. However, not everyone is against it and, while waiting for something to move, trattorias and [bacari] are multiplying all around the market, the typical taverns where you drink white wine while having a snack (often fish-based cichéto), which observe market hours and exploit its vitality.
Rialto Fish Market Hours
Like any other market, the Rialto Market is open only in the morning, from 7.30 to noon, from Tuesday to Friday.
Next to the fish market there is also the fruit and vegetable market, which opens from 7:30 to 13:30, from Monday to Saturday.
Even if you don’t intend to cook during your stay, it is worth spending half an hour among its stalls, to see one of the still truly authentic parts of Venice.
Visiting the Rialto fish market is certainly one of the things to include in the list of things to do absolutely in Venice.