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The history of the Rialto fish market in Venice

Anyone knows something about the Rialto Fish Market in Venice, but how many people can actually say they know its history and secrets? Not many, we are afraid.
The name “Rialto” comes from “Rivo Alto” which means ‘high bank’. Originally, it was the term Venetians used to identify the center of Venice, including the area of Campo Santa Maria Formosa, San Salvador Church (where Caterina Cornaro, queen of Cyprus, is buried) and St. Mark’s Square.
Nowadays, Rialto is well known for being the commercial heart of the city, but for a short period of time, it was the headquarters of the Venice government, too.
As time passed, Rialto turned out to be the perfect place for commercial activities, such as selling fish.

The beautiful Loggia of the Rialto Fish Market

Apart from Rialto Bridge, which is one of the most iconic bridges in Venice, the market has another important and beautiful architectural element to see: the Loggia.
Even though the Loggia of Rialto Fish Market seems old, it was built by the architect Domenico Rupolo just over a century ago, in 1907.
The Neo-Gothic style of the loggia is in complete harmony with the surrounding buildings, and the capitals of the columns were designed by painter Cesare Laurenti.
Each capital is different, but they all portray something connected to the fishing world, such as seahorses, boats, and fish.
If you have the chance to spend some time at the Rialto Market, we suggest stopping by the marble slab hanging on the wall between the Loggia and the most ancient part of the market, which regulated the sale of fish in terms of length.

The Erbaria

Another famous area, close to the Rialto Fish Market, is the Erbaria. taking its name from the fact that spices, aromatic herbs, fruits, and vegetables used to be sold here.
Just like today, St. Erasmo was famous for being an island of farmers, and it’s not by chance that many of the vegetables that were sold at the Rialto Market came from there.
According to tradition, in this campo – small square – there’s the most ancient church in Venice, the St. Giacometo Church. According to a legend, it was built in 421, but the first document mentioning it dates back to 1152.
In the past, the bells of the church used to ring the opening and the closure of the market.
Nowadays Erbaria has completely changed its role, becoming one of the most frequented areas for aperitivo.

When does the Rialto Fish Market open?

Like any other market, the Rialto Fish Market is only open in the morning, from 7.30 am to 12 pm, from Tuesday to Friday.
The fruit and vegetable market, located right next to the fish market, is open from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm, from Monday to Sunday.
Even if you have no intention to cook on your vacation, we recommend spending time strolling around, here to see a side of Venice that probably won’t be there forever.

Visiting the Rialto Fish Market is certainly one of the things you should do if you’re visiting Venice for the first time, together with the most important attractions of the city.
If you are looking for some inspiration, here’s an itinerary we created for all our guests who visit Venice for a couple of days.