Market, Marcà. Mercato, Mercà. Va là !

Uno spritz al Marcà

Once you’ve spent any amount of time here, you’ll learn it’s best never to say that anything is assolutamente così, undeniably so. That’s because it’s probably only that way most, but not all of the time; or it’s changed since it was true (yesterday); or will have changed by the time someone experiences whatever it is you’re talking about; or you didn’t get the straight story to begin with. Take Al Marcà, the popular bàcaro in Campo San Giacometto near the Rialto Market that offers a wide variety of both tasty cicchetto novello, wine by the glass, and uno Spritz abbondante.

How long has it been there? Forever. Who knows about it, who goes there? Everybody. What’s its real name? Al Mercà, as a friend noticed recently when she reviewed her scontrino (receipt). Ma come mai, what’s up with that? (In a world of incessantly shifting truths, I like to pin down certainty whenever possible, especially on trivial details. Makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.)

You might assume “market” in Venetian is marcà. It isn’t. Mercà is the Venetian word for the Italian mercato, and this makes sense: we can see the relationship in the two words, we are at ease. So, why then, is Al Marcà printed so blatantly on the tenda? Is it wrong? A mistake? Some hip, Ven-Inglese word? The answer is the one that often applies to so many questions concerning Italy, and certainly to Venice: dipende. Yes…and no.

Marcà, it turns out, is mercato (market), in the version of the Veneto dialect spoken in Noale, where the original owners are from. Noale is a whole 35 km up the road, so of course, they have a different word for market. And the word ended up printed on the awning. And the actual business is named differently. And no one ever bothered to change it. And it doesn’t matter to anyone but us, supplied with another topic for discussion as we bob beneath the awning, munching a polpetto and sipping a teroldego or an (exceptionally potent) Spritz.

There you have it. I knew this was a burning question for everyone, and I think, from our intense research, we have found the answer. But then again, I would never say it was assolutamente così…

2 thoughts on “Market, Marcà. Mercato, Mercà. Va là !

  1. marisa

    Front page of the Wall Street Journal yesterday—the battle for the Punta della Dogana between the Guggenheim Foundation and Francois Pinault of LVMH. Each wants the building for their modern art collections. Each have a distinguished architect to redo the building and each has a mayor to pitch for them. Should be an interesting fight. Decision is to be made by Easter but I don’t think anything gets done that fast in Venice. Although it seems the fight has been going on for a few years.

    Any additional info would be appreciated.

  2. nan

    Yes, I’m having a flashback to the Pinault fight for the Grassi a few years back…we shall see. I have to vote Guggenheim, I’m afraid.


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