5.14.12 Fair Market

Al merca 790 xxx
photos by george billard
Venice is truly transporting. The magic of the place is hard to describe. It's a convergence of so many things: beautiful muted colors, lovely gardens, a culture of art, rich history, outdoor cafés, unique topography, no cars, the patina of age. It's arguably the world's most beautiful city, and definitely one you must visit in this lifetime. It's hard to say what is my favorite aspect but, if pressed, I might name the Rialto market. All and sundry turn up here on a daily basis to shop for seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as meats and cheeses. Elegant Venetian matrons pulling their trolleys, gawking tourists with cameras, young couples in love and mothers with strollers rub shoulders in front of amazing displays of the Veneto's finest. It's here you get a sense of the unique riches this region has to offer. As everywhere in Venice, there are little cafés surrounding the market, my favorite of which is Al Mercà, really no more than a kiosk where you can get fantastic wines and the very best little sandwiches.
Cichetti 790 xxx
bite size
You grab your wine and stand around in the little square, munching your snacks and watching the people go by. It's a tradition for locals and, as a tourist, makes you feel a part of the place. I enjoyed the San Daniele prosciutto with robiola cheese and truffle, and the tuna with radicchio and horseradish, along with a glass of sparkling rosé. The market opens at 7am; I recommend you go around 10, wander for an hour, and stop at Al Mercà for the first of many rounds of refreshment (after your morning cappuccino, of course).
Veg market 790 xxx
the bounty
The Rialto market is near the Rialto bridge over the Grand Canal in the San Polo neighborhood (sestiere). It's been there since the 11th century, though the buildings were rebuilt after a fire in 1514. It's essentially an open air market that's held under some tents and stone archways. There's the Erberia, the greenmarket, and the Campo delle Pescheria for fish—including delicacies indigenous to the lagoon— as well as several butchers and a cheese shop.
Artichokes 790 xxx
small purple artichokes look like edible flowers
Artichokes 2 790 xxx
artichokes prepared for cooking float in barrels of lemony water
Asparagus 790 xxx
we were there in peak asparagus season
White asparagus1 790 xxx
i've never seen such fat, pristine white asparagus
Treviso 790 xxx
treviso radicchio: farmers of the Veneto have applied for Protected Geographical Status for some varieties
Barbe di frate 790 xxx
barba di frate, aka agretti, is a salt-tolerant succulent that can be eaten raw or cooked
Z blossoms 790 xxx
zucchini blossoms, a venetian specialty
Sundried tomatoes 790 xxx
sundried tomatoes
Fragole 790 xxx
fragole di bosco, alpine strawberries, have an intoxicating fragrance and wild taste
Loquats 790 xxx
the market had a selection of exotic imports including these spanish loquats
Fish market 790 xxx
campo delle pescheria
Cuttlefish 790 xxx
local cuttlefish, often braised in its ink with pasta or rice
Fishmongers 790 xxx
fishmongers at work
Knives 790 xxx
some of their knives
Langostinos 790 xxx
langostinos are among the many sea delicacies of venice
Scallops 790 xxx
scallops on the halfshell with their roe
Spider crab 790 xxx
local spider crabs
Horse meat 790 xxx
an entire butcher shop is devoted to horse meat
Horse sausage 790 xxx
horse salumi
Lsgb al merca 790 xxx
two very contented visitors
Henry James said “Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors,” and though I can't really refute that, I persist in being one of them. And so should you. The more often we go, the more at home there we will be.


what an inspired and inspiring post! grazie my lovely glutton, and welcome home, we've missed you! xoxo
stephanie on May 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm —
yes, you're back! been missing your posts. excited to read about your adventures. did you try the horse meat? we've tried a couple different preparations in emilia romagna. very lean and sweet. i've only been to venice once for a short visit. i really enjoyed do mori for chicchetti. did you go?
g on May 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm —
Hi, Giovanna! We did not try the horse meat, but mostly because it was not offered anywhere we went. We ate plenty of cichetti, though not at Da Mori. Stay tuned later in the week for my post on restaurants...xo
laura on May 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm —
I really, really need to go to Italy. And you just made me add Venice to the long list of places I must visit in Italy. It's sort of sad that I haven't yet been. Thank you for sharing so many lovely images!
Julia on May 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm —
It will be there when you're ready. Btw, I think kids would go crazy for Venice, what with all the boats.
laura on May 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm —