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Springtime in Venice:

Mercato di Rialto in Venice is the best show in town

The Rialto Market in Venice retains the busy and festive atmosphere of a Medieval marketplace.

This is part of a series of stories on food and wine from Italy by South Florida Gourmet editor  Simone Zarmati Diament

  

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rialto bridge

 
 By Simone Zarmati Diament

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The Rialto Market in the San Polo Sestiere quarter in Venice under the arches of the marketplace which first opened in the year 1097, retains the busy and festive atmosphere of a Medieval wholesale and retail marketplace, with barges zooming down the Grand Canal barely docking to deliver food and products to the Erberia greengrocery market, and the fish market on the Campo della Pescheria,

Today’s crowds, except for the way they dress, look exactly like their forebears and like them depend on the Rialto market for their daily food supply. Like their Medieval counterparts they are eager to get the freshest fruit, vegetables, groceries and extremely fresh and sometimes even live fish and seafood – shiny silvery sardines, octopus with long tentacles still stirring, jewel-like crustaceans, plump Venetian scampi, the first artichokes of the season and  the early asparagus -  to their table.

It is in spring that the marketplace reaches its paroxysm of abundance. But no matter what season it is it, with vendors hawking their wares on stalls almost caving under the riches of the world; bargaining with restaurant chefs and housewives examining the daily supply of fish, crustaceans, and bivalves; delivery men pushing handcarts – the market is the best show in town even if you have nothing to buy.   

On the morning we went, they were selling 30 artichokes for € 10, and a vendor was even peeling them; he was doing a kind of fascinating tribal dance as he was cutting off the leaves and throwing the tender hearts in a bucket full of lemony water.

Later that night at a nearby restaurant (“Trattoria La Madonna”), I ordered a plateful of meaty artichoke hearts, every bite of which was sheer delight….

VIDEOS

For a video of the artichoke vendor’s dance, click here 

Watch a short video of a ride through Venice in Vaporetto 

Piazza San Marco, Venice a jewel in the world.  

Gondoliere’s serenade on the canals in Venice  

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The Rialto Market, Ponte di Rialto, Venice 30124, Italy is open Monday through Saturday from  6:30 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. The Pescheria or fish market is at the far end of the Erberia or herb and fruit Market and you can reach it through the archway. The market is accessible either by crossing the Rialto Bridge or via vaporeto: Rialto stop.