We always try to visit a local market when we visit a city. Not only is there the opportunity to land some freshly-cooked food made with recently-caught or harvested ingredients but it is often the best way to mingle with the locals. We enjoyed browsing around the Campo di Fiore in Rome, for example, so we looked forward to checking out the Rialto Market.
The market is easy to find: coming from the San Marco side of the Rialto bridge: just keep walking straight ahead down the Ruga Orefici which becomes the Ruga Speziati. When you enter a small square with a yellow-brick building on your right featuring 2 large, arched doorways and a helpful lettering above the pointed arches - Mercato del Pesce (Fish Market) - you have arrived.
Enter the market and marvel at the freshly-caught seafood, a lot of it from the surrounding lagoon or from the nearby Adriatic Sea. The small eel were trying to escape from the mesh bags. Moeche (small, lagoon crabs) were scuttling around in their Styrofoam containers. A wide variety of seafood was on offer, including salmon, sardon (sardines), branzino (Mediterranean seabass), scampi, calamari, moscardini (baby octopus), mazzancolle (shrimp), cappelunghe (clams), rombi (turbot), seppie (cuttlefish), passarini (flounder), sogliola (sole), oratine (bream), barboni (red mullet), granchi (crab), tonno (tuna), piovra (octopus), cappesante (scallops), scombri (mackerel). This list could keep on going. The selection was truly amazing. The market was also very clean and had only the slightest hint of a fishy smell; it looked like the stall keepers regularly hosed down the floor.
There was also a vegetable and fruit market right next door. There were also several butchers in the immediate area. The fish market was the main star, though, even though we weren't shopping ourselves. There are so many things to see and do in Venice, but if you want a break from churches and palaces and piazzas definitely visit this market.
Incidentally there was a red flag with the ubiquitous gold winged lion of St. Mark hanging from the roof. Written on the bible under his paw were the words "Rialto No Se Toca" roughly translated as "Don't mess with the Rialto" This was a reference to the attempt by city officials to remove the market to the mainland - it has been at this site since 1097 - and convert the area as a disembarkation point for cruise ship passengers. Those plans have been put on hold.
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