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The Merchants of Venice

Scallops for sale at the Rialto fish market - Venice, Venezia, Italy, Europe“What news on the Rialto?” asks Shylock, the antihero of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.”  And it’s a good question.  There always seems to be something to see or do near Venice’s famous Rialto Bridge, but for what Shylock would call “my Christian ducats” the best thing is the bustling Rialto Markets: the Pescheria fish market and adjacent Erberia vegetable market.  Here the modern-day Merchants of Venice lay out an amazing array of fish, shellfish, mollusks, and every imaginable type of produce.  Beginning at 7 A.M Venice’s chefs congregate to choose ingredients for that day’s lunch and dinner including the black ink used in the city’s signature dish of squid ink risotto.

A visit to Venice’s Pescheria is like stepping back in time.  The fishmongers of Venice have plied their wares here since the twelfth century, monitored by the Doge’s government, who imposed a charter - the Capitularies de pescatroibus - for the fishermen in the thirteenth century that is so detailed and strict that makes EU regulations look halfhearted and lackadaisical. 

Finding the Pescheria and Erberia is a bit complicated, but well worth the bother particularly if photography or food are high up on your list of reasons to travel.  The Pescheria is a uniquely Venetian experience that should not be missed!  From Piazza San Marco, head to Rialto Bridge by foot or on either the #1 (slow) or #2 (express) Vaporetti (both stop at Rialto), then cross the bridge to the right side of the Grand Canal.  Head west into San Paolo and thread your way through the souvenir stalls along the Ruga degli Orefici.  As fake Venetian glass gives way to real Italian rosemary and sunflowers, your nose will begin tell you you’re on the right track. 

You’ll first encounter the greengrocer stands of the Erberia, and then follow the signs a bit further along to the Pescheria.  The market is best in the early morning when it is thronging with actual Venetians who are busy haggling for their groceries - by shortly after lunch it’s mostly closed up for the day.  If you are visiting towards lunchtime, consider having your midday meal at Vini da Pinto, a local favorite specializing in seafood.

Alexander+Roberts offer numerous options to enjoy Italy and Venice including our popular Italy by Rail.  Speak to one of our knowledgeable reservation agents who can help you plan your trip.

Posted: 9/10/2015 10:25:22 AM by Alexander + Roberts