Last updated on February 12th, 2024
Whether you are a foodie or not, making a stop at the famous Rialto Market in Venice is one of the top tourist attractions in the city.
At the Rialto Market, local vendors of all kinds set up shop to sell the most seasonal produce given to us by the magical Venetian lagoon. Even if you don’t plan on doing some cooking in Venice, it’s a great opportunity to pick up snacks, shop for food souvenirs, sample local produce and interact with the community.
In this article I will share with you my extensive knowledge about the Rialto market in Venice including:
- my top tips and tricks for navigating the market
- how to choose the best vendor for what you want
- what to buy
And even if you don’t speak a bit of Italian, fear not! I will include a quick guide to my Italian vocabulary printable to keep handy on your next trip to the Rialto Market in Venice!
Why listen to me? After living in Italy for almost 15 years now I feel confident in sharing the ins and outs of shopping at open air markets including the Rialto Market in Venice.
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How To Say Rialto Market In Italian
The Rialto market in Italian is il mercato di Rialto, pronounced eel mehr-kah-toh dee ree-ahl-toh in Italian.
Listen to the pronunciation of Rialto Market in Italian here:
Where Is The Rialto Market in Venice, Italy?
The Rialto market is located just off of the Rialto bridge in the San Polo neighborhood in Venice split right on the canal split between Campo della Pescaria and Campo Cesare Battisti già della Bella Vienna.
How To Get To The Rialto Market
The easiest way to get to the Rialto market is on foot. If you make your way to the Rialto bridge, head towards Campo San Giacomo di Rialto and just around to the open air market on the canal.
If you are far away, you can take the Vaporetto boat 1 and get off at the Rialto Mercato ACTV fermata/stop.
Alternatively, you can take the Vaporetto A or 2 which serves the Rialto stop on the other side of the Grand Canal. From here, cross the Rialto bridge and head to the Rialto Market just on the other side.
What Exactly Is The Rialto Market In Venice?
The Rialto market is an open air market in the heart of Venice, sourcing and selling local produce and seafood from the surrounding countryside and lagoon.
Historically, the Rialto market was the spot for trade among locals including fisherman, farmers, craftsmen, artisans, and butchers. Today, the market still caters to the relatively few locals who remain but also, plays host to the thousands of tourists passing through.
The Rialto market is broken up into two main sections, the fish market known as the Pescaria and the section selling fresh produce known as Erbaria.
The Pescaria is where all the Venetian fisherman pull up alongside the marketplace early in the morning with their daily catch. Various stalls are filled with fresh fish and seafood which stay open until around noon.
The Pescaria is laden with tourists snapping pictures of the beautiful and bountiful seafood but is also the absolute best spot to buy fish in Venice.
The second section of the market, the Erbaria is where you will find all the produce you could ever want. Full of vibrant colors and textures, this is where you will find Venice’s most cherished local vegetables such as radicchio, artichokes and asparagus.
These vendors also sell ‘out of season’ or unconventional fruits and vegetables such as bananas, green apples year-round and oranges. This, however, is not what I recommend buying because you can find those things anywhere.
If you are coming here to shop, look for the items that seem to take up the most space. For example, in the winter, you will see crates upon crates of different radicchio. What does this tell you? It’s radicchio season! When you see bushels of asparagus, opt for those.
Tip: Not familiar with the Italian growing season? Just ask the vendor! They are happy to promote the island’s best produce rather than sell you what comes from afar.
Best Produce To Buy At The Rialto Market In Venice
They speak to the local landscape and agricultural of the Venetian lagoon, ultimately shaping the traditional dishes and foods of Venice.
Radicchio Rosso di Treviso
Radicchio Rosso di Treviso is the most famous kind of radicchio grown in Veneto but you will also find several other varieties. Characterized by a rich and bitter flavor, it’s a hearty leafy lettuce best served grilled, in salads, or in risotto.
Giuggiola dei Colli Euganei
Giuggiola dei Colli Euganei are small brown fruits similar to a date in appearance but taste somewhat like an apple. Quite particular and worth picking up a small bag to try if you have never tried them before.
Barbe di Frate/Agretti
Known as “Monk’s Beard” in English, agretti are a grass-like vegetable that look similar to thin seaweed. They only grow for a few weeks in the Spring and are served with pasta, as a contorno and used to make seasonal appetizers in Venice.
Asparagi Bianchi di Bassano
Asparagi Bianchi di Bassano is a DOP asparagus with a snow white color and has a sweet yet bitter flavor. Look for them in the Spring alongside other types of green, purple and wild asparagus.
Fagioli di Lamon
Fagioli di Lamon are a type of IGP protected borlotto bean that grows North of Venice and comes in four different varieties: Spanish (most common), Calonega, Canalino and Spagnolit. You can either buy them dried or fresh, which are a bit labor intensive to shuck but worth all the effort, in my opinion!
Fragoline are a variety of small strawberry, bite size like a blueberry and very sweet. Just like Monk’s Beard, they are only in season for a few weeks so pick up a container in the Spring if you happen to be at the Rialto Market during this time.
If you have never had fresh, local fennel in Italy, here is your chance. It’s nothing like what you get back home. Sweet and full of rich, anise flavor, this crunchy vegetable is great anyway you serve it.
Carciofo Violetto di Sant’Erasmo
The carciofo violetto di Sant’Erasmo is a purple artichoke grown on the St. Erasmo island, about a 30 minute boat ride from the Venice mainland. Venetians love artichokes in any shape and form but I like them best fried, in risotto and used on cicchetti.
Fiori Di Zucca
Fiori di zucca or zucchini blossoms are a treat if you can get your hands on them. The most popular way to prepare them is by stuffing and frying them.
Best Lagoon Seafood To Buy At The Rialto Market In Venice
When you walk by the overwhelming amount of fish stalls at the Rialto Market, you will be floored by the wide selection, array of colors and bountiful options. Even if you don’t like seafood, it’s fun to walk through and look at the daily catch.
It’s hard to go through all the Venetian seafood specialties that are sold at the Rialto Market but a few are worth mentioning in particular.
Moeche are soft shell crabs from the Venetian Lagoon sold only in the Spring and Fall when the crabs shed their hard shell and are tender for a short period before forming a hard shell again.
Seppia is cuttlefish and is one of the most popular Venetian foods to buy at the pescaria at the Rialto Market. You can make countless dishes from seppie including spaghetti, risotto, seafood salad, and cicchetti, just to name a few.
Baccalà or codfish is one of the most popular foods in Venice to make cicchetti and other appetizers such as baccalà mantecato. It’s one of my favorite flavors from the lagoon.
Caposanti on the halfshell (scallops) are huge in Venice. They are quite the delicacy and the price reflects this. Instead of ordering them by the pound, you will often be charged by the scallop and sold the shell as well, which makes for a beautiful presentation.
Schie are tiny, seasonal shrimp from the surrounding Adriatic sea. Like the local moeche crabs, they are only in season for a small window of time. Whether you are shopping at the Rialto Market or eating out in Venice, you can’t pass these up if you see them.
Other Venetian Seafood
- Bisati – eel
- Branzino – sea bass
- Canocchie – mantis shrimp
- Mazzancolle – prawns
- Granchio – crab
- Moscardini – small octopus
- Polpo – octopus
- Orata – gilthead bream
- Cannolicchio – razor clams
- Rombo – brill
- Vongole – clams
- Sgombro – mackerel
Other Food Items To Buy At The Rialto Market In Venice
While shopping at the Rialto Market in Venice you might notice that vendors are selling plenty of other food items as well.
Pendole are strips of smoked pork or beef eaten with polenta or simply as a snack. Look for them at the butcher.
Mais Biancoperla is a local strain of corn used to make polenta, characterized by its pale, white color.
Vialone Nano Veronese Rice
Vialone Nano Veronese Rice is a PGI protected rice with a medium-sized grain, perfect for risotto of any kind.
One of the most famous rice grains to use for the typical Venetian risotto. Packs up great and it’s easy to bring home with you.
Other Food Items To Buy At The Rialto Market
- Spezie – spices
- Porcini secchi – dried porcini mushrooms
- Pomodorini secchi – sundried tomatoes
- Miele – locally produced honey.
Other Food Vendors At The Rialto Market
Although not formally part of the Rialto Market, there are plenty of butchers, small food shops, cheese shops and fruttivendoli (produce shops) lining the Rialto Market. Many of these shops are historic, ones that have been around forever.
Place To Drink & Eat Around The Rialto Market
|Cantina Do Spade
|San Polo, 859, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
|Eating with kids and cicchetti in Venice at a traditional bacaro
|S. Polo, 436, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
|Traditional cicchetti in Venice
|Campo Bella Vienna, 213, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
|Cicchetti, sandwiches and Spritz
|Campo San Giacometto, Ponte di Rialto
|Aperitivo / Best wine list and refined cicchetti or lunch and dinner in Venice
|Caffè Del Doge
|Rialto, Calle dei Cinque, 609, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
|Best coffee in Venice
|Ruga Rialto San Polo 655, 30125 Venezia VE
|Best breakfast or best pizza in Venice
Tips For Shopping At The Rialto Market In Venice
- Feel free to try and bargain at some of these market stalls. Many vendors will not give you a special price for a single item but if you buy multiple, they may be willing to give you a deal.
- Come with your own shopping bag to put smaller bags into or you will be loaded down with small paper bags and nowhere to put them!
- Always say hello to vendors even if you are just passing by and taking a picture.
- Ask for advice! Venetians are friendly and love to help out in my experience.
- If you are curious to try a new fish or vegetable at your accommodation in Venice, ask the vendor if they have some advice on how to make it easily (I find this particularly helpful with fish).
- Vendors generally prefer cash and they love coins. Keep small bills and €1 and €2 euro coins on you for smoother transactions.
- Italians appreciate it when you try to speak the language. Keep my helpful vocabulary printable handy and take a stab at saying hello and goodbye in Italian.
Helpful Vocabulary For Shopping At The Rialto Market
|I would like…
|May I try…
|Cosa c’è di stagione?
|coh-zah cheh dee stah-joh-neh?
|What is in season?
|Cosa mi consiglia?
|coh-zah mee cohn-seel-yah?
|What would you recommend?
|Do you have…
|How much does it cost?
|Posso pagare con…
|poh-soh pah-gah-reh cohn…
|May I pay with…
|una carta di credito
|cahr-ta dee creh-dee-toh
|A credit card
Numbers In Italian
You can listen to the pronunciation of the numbers 1-10 in Italian:
Printable – Shopping at an Italian Market
To print, just click on the image below to open a high-quality PDF in a new tab. Print from the new tab.
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