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If you ask us which Italian market is the richest in history, we would answer without a moment's hesitation: Rialto! It's hard to say when it was born but Rialto, originally Rivoalto, is forever bound to the affairs of the most famous city-state of the Mediterranean: Venice. In this context of immense economic vitality and richness, there was "L'Erbaria", the vegetable market, supplied by the gardens of the islands and of Chioggia, and the "Pescaria" or seafood market, where fish taken from the lagoon and along the coast arrived.
In Venice, fish was sold everywhere because it was a widely used food, culturally connected with the environment. But the catches were often sold on board the vessels and along the banks of the canals, and it was the fishermen themselves who were doing the selling. That's why, still today, the fish seller is still called a "pescaor" (fisherman). In Rialto, on the other hand, the products were sold on wooden counters set up on sawhorses, protected by small curtains just like on the vessels. A ducal decree limited the quantity each seller could put on the market. But in Rialto the fish arrived daily. On or more "carline", vessels with six oars, could cross the canals of the Venetian coastline in eight hours, and reach Venice with prized fish. Turbot, gilthead, bass, bream and sturgeon reached Rialto in large quantities. From Chioggia came "sarde de alba", sardines and mackerel, as well as sole, barbel and mullet. And so, lots of freshwater and deep sea fish, but that's not all. The people of Choggia and Pallestrina, the first with their "bragozzo" fishing boats and the second with their "sampierotte", put out to sea to fish with drag nets, trammels and drift nets, because apart from being good fishermen they were first of all courageous seafarers. Today, in Rialto there remains a retail market which is fairly large but much smaller than in the past. Here families and restaurateurs stock up on the best that comes to Venice, products of the sea in the widest variety and ever so prized. That's why the catches from there are always the best.
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