Category Archives: About Venice

What is a calle, anyway?

News on the Rialto Fish Market’s Future

Situation not as dramatic as first reports indicated — meno male (whew).

According to a February 6 article in La Nuova Venezia (here concisely translated), there was copious finger pointing between the City and Port on speculative news of the transfer of the Tronchetto wholesale fish market to Fusina — infuriating operators of the Rialto Fish Market  who announced a mobilization against the move that has also led to political controversy. Both ensure that nothing has been decided, however.

“The Port has submitted a proposal for a new market in Fusina” says commissioner of Commerce Carla Rey, “but that will be evaluated very carefully.”

Rey says that the Port Authority was responding to a request by the Comune, and which is now an official project to study the possibility of establishing a mainland market with a more convenient and modern facilities, on property held by the Comune to develop the Fusina port.

“The main objective of this study,” she continues, “is that 90% of the fish market sales are stocked from land and serve land-based markets, so a relocation would first support the expansion of the market and the growth trend in recent years, and second, reduce traffic on the Ponte della Libertà [the causeway across the lagoon into the city].”

The Port, however, insists that it “did not initiate the eviction of any activity in the area [of Tronchetto] nor that of the [Rialto] Fish Market. They are considering further expansion of the port and docks area, although nothing in the area now occupied by the Fish Market. In any case, the Port Authority is not carrying out and does not intend to pursue any project without the agreement, as required by law, of the city administration. “

In the meantime Venice citizens started an online petition against the possible closure of the Rialto fish market which – according to proponents – could be a by-product of the wholesale market relocation to the mainland.

[I signed it. Non si sa mai, You never know…]

(For the original article in Italian see Feb 6, La Nuova Venezia, E.Tantucci)


The Closing of the Rialto Fish Market? Sign the petition to Just Say No.

Relocation of the Tronchetto Wholesale Market to Fusina Announced

The Loss of the Pescheria Rialto Fish Market Appalls Fisherman, Locals, Travelers

Below you’ll find an article that Google and I translated from the original in La Nuova Venezia. I’ve added some comments for clarification, and although I’ve done some nosing around, I don’t feel like I have enough info to feel completely informed. I hate to jump to conclusions, but just in case it might help…please SIGN the PETITION to let the powers that be know that even though you may not live in the city, the Rialto Fish Market is important to you. (The petition is in Italian, but fairly straightforward — see additional instructions at the end of the article.)

The longer I live here, the more I am convinced that this fish is some of the sweetest and freshest to be found anywhere. Moving the wholesale market to Fusina would certainly increase the cost of fish (already high) and for fishermen make the logistics of transport to the central market at the Rialto impractical and cost prohibitive. Keep in mind that the fish you find at the Rialto (and at other markets in the city) are more often that not, still alive, because they’ve just been delivered fresh from the catch. How many other fish markets can make this claim?

If you have an opinion, please register it by signing the petition, at least. Tell all the cruise passengers you know, too — it’s the Port that’s organizing this move. What a shame.


From the original article published in La Nuova Venezia (Alberto Vitucci), with additional comments and clarifications:

VENICE. The Rialto is at risk of losing one of its most famous symbols: the Pescheria, or fish market.

This could be the eventual outcome of the announced transfer of the wholesale market from Tronchetto to Fusina, the former Alumix areas. Located away from the “living” lagoon, it’s practically inaccessible to fishermen and traders in Venice.

[Note: Fusina is over 3.5 miles SW of Tronchetto, the current location of the Venice wholesale fish market, just beyond Piazzale Roma. The new location would be build on land, not located on the lagoon. It’s an industrial area inappropriate for fishing.]

And it’s more than a hypothesis, given that Port Authority’s drawings and plans for the new land structure are already being passed around among experts. The operators of the Fish Market, fifteen companies that supply fresh fish for retail throughout the city, are preparing for battle.

“We’ve requested an urgente meeting with the Mayor Giorgio Orsoni,” they say, “we’ll explain that the transfer of the wholesale market will decree the death of the Pescheria and the Rialto Market.”

The project is entering its operational phase. For some time the Port Authority, owner of the area where there wholesale market stands, has reclaimed possession. The parking area in front of the market is to become a roundabout at the exit from the Marittima cruise port. And the area now occupied by the fish market will be transformed into new facilities for large cruise ships, given the proximity of the docks.

It’s a project that risks being “devastating” for the city and in particular for the fish market at the Pescheria [which has existed at the Rialto — the center of all economic activity and commercial life of the Venetian Republic from its inception, before the year 1000.], say the fisherman.

For retailers to reach the city center from Fusina would be impossible and impractical. The reason is the distance of Fusina from the city, the lagoon, and the market itself. The lagoon fisherman [many from Burano, for example, at the opposite end of the lagoon, 10 miles or 16 km from the new wholesale market] will hardly be able get the fish across the lagoon to Fusina, then back to the Pescheria in the city’s center in time for retail sale — especially in inclement weather, in winter, in open boats, facing a bora or garbin wind. Today they go directly by boat from Tronchetto to Rialto. To transport fish from Fusina would demand both truck and boat — too much time and cost prohibitive.

The first consequence of the relocation would be the increase of fish from abroad and even frozen [abhored by locals, as it immediately reduces the quality for which Venice is famous] and reduction of the native species available from the lagoon.

Finally Fusina, located in an industrial zone, is not an ideal place for trade in fish, an activity that had taken place for centuries in the lagoon waters and Rialto.

Perhaps more convenient for Padova, the new location of the wholesale market would be prohibitive for the Venetian locals, and would represent yet another productive activity evicted from the lagoon through the work of a public institution (the Port).

In addition to the operators of Rialto, however, many citizens and even travelers who love Venice and its wonderful traditions. intend to give battle to avoid the death of a tradition and the closure of the Pescheria, says everyone.



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Extra, extra: Sior Rioba, to be whole once again.

mori_TFN0078.JPGThe news arrived first the via a message from l’Associazione Olivolo (established to protect Venetian tradition), and seemed nothing short of a miracle: they found it. They found the head of our dear Sior Rioba.

The missing marble mass (along with its good-luck iron nose) was discovered this morning in the Sotoportego di Calle de la Racheta (the underpass that connects the calle with the Fondamenta San Felice) by some ecological workers in the area. They turned it over to the police.

On reading the news, I was ecstatic, beside myself, almost unbelieving. Reading others’ reactions on the Cercasi disparatamente Sior Rioba (Desperately Seeking Sior Rioba) facebook page, I saw they were similar. Relief, celebration, exultation.

The entire city had been so stunned and appalled by this senseless act; residents and social networks mobilized immediately, denouncing the defacement and calling for the Sior to be made whole again. But why the extreme reaction? There are certainly greater tragedies, on much larger scales and at human cost, occurring daily. Why all the fuss?

Perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps in these days of car bombs and national bankruptcies becoming as common as colds, senators comporting themselves as 10-year-olds, the term ‘financially successful’ now established as a synonym for screw-everyone-as-long-as-I-get-mine, a massive spigot belching black crude into an emerald gulf, series of natural disasters each more heartbreaking that the last, and an overall lack of respect for every one and every thing manifest in almost every type of institution from government to religious to business, the recovery of an ancient marble head so pointlessly removed from a statue held dear by locals and travelers alike was so welcome, you might have thought we’d all won the lottery.

Given that to win the lottery you have to enter, and that it’s easy to feel powerless in a world where uncertainty is the norm, I’ll celebrate this small, but precious bit of good news, and hold it very, very close. For in the end our Sior Riobas help us withstand the other muck: they are there, stalwart, impervious, unchanging; completely unperturbed by, say, Goldman Sachs’ uncanny ability to humbly endure a senatorial tongue lashing while simultaneously counting the billions they made off the misfortune they sold.

Hang in there, Sior Rioba. When we heard of your misfortune, a wave of indignation flooded the city as thoroughly as any acqua alta we have ever endured. We will now wait for the news of the grande festa once your head is back atop your rounded shoulders, helping you support your load of precious merchandise, keeping watch over the expansive campo named for you and your brothers.

I, for one, will touch that good-luck nose once it’s back where it belongs. We need all the help we can get.

Siòr Rioba: you don’t deserve this.


Crossing Campo dei Mori yesterday, on the way home from a magnificent row through the barene north of Burano followed by an abundant fish frittura hosted by the Voga e Para rowing club, I was stopped in my tracks when I glanced up at the familiar Moro merchant with the iron nose eternally perched on the corner of the campo to see that he’d be violently vandalized: someone had removed his entire head.

As reported in yesterday’s Gazzettino:

“The marble head of the statue “Sior [Antonio] Rioba,” a symbol of the long-lived merchant tradition of the Serenissima, was pillaged last night in the Campo dei Mori, Venice. Unknown assailants removed his entire head, cutting it off at the base of the neck.

One of the characteristics of the sculpture is its iron nose; the legend states that touching its face, just like the oldest of three [Mastelli] brothers of this merchant family from the east, will bring good fortune. . . .

At the moment, the act is theorized as vandalism. During the same night, someone also cracked the plate glass window of the Rioba restaurant. At this time there is nothing to connect the two incidents, but investigators are continuing to probe.

Venice’s mayor, Giorgio Orsoni, said he was ‘really struck and offended by this stupid, ignorant act that this night had mutilated one of Venice’s most important and popular depictions. I hope that the Rioba statue’s head is located quickly, and that it will still be possible to reattach it with as little damage as possible. This night’s vandalism reminds us once again of the fragility of our artistic patrimony, with its constant exposure to the ignorant and the boorish making it so difficult to protect.'”

This is such a heartbreaker. I’d write an entreaty for his return, but I somehow doubt whoever perpetrated this crime reads this silly blog. I’ll just go on hoping they find him.

For a more of photos of the statue before and after its defacement, see the the Facebook group Cercasi Rioba disperatamente (Desperately Seeking Rioba):, and

Cities, Silk, and Samurai: don’t forget the Fortuny

Doge’s Palace, La Basilica, the Salute, the Frari: the list of Venice must-sees is far too long for most travelers to take them all in during their allotted sightseeing time. Needless to say, the less-famous, must-see-if-you-can-squeeze-them-in venues are too rarely enjoyed by the one-time visitor; for those who return, or become regular Venice devotees, they eventually begin to dot the sightseeing horizon.

One of these gems is the Museo Fortuny, once home and laboratory to the extraordinary Mariano Fortuny — painter, photographer; textile, lamp, and garment designer. Belonging once to the Pesaro family and donated to the city in 1956 by his wife Henriette, the palace has been transformed into a lean, evocative exhibition space and inviting museum. The permanent collection includes lamps, wall hangings, paintings, furniture, and Fortuny’s own laboratory, maintained in a manner that you expect Fortuny himself to return at any moment and start work on some engaging project.

Now is the perfect time to discover the Fortuny if you haven’t yet got around to it: until July 18th, it’s hosting three exhibits that are not only intriguing in their own right, but are also highly complementary each other. The first is City of Cities, by Francesco Candeloro. Wander through city scapes of multicolored, multidimensional floor and wall installations of plexiglass, laser-cut motifs and UV-printed images; a show designed for the space itself.

The floor above houses Silk and Velvet, an intoxicating showcase of Fortuny’s famously sensuous, finely-pleated (plissé) silk Delphos dresses and accompanying garments — all displayed in the space where they were created. The third exhibit on the top floor is Samurai, a fascinating collection of surprisingly varied, intricately decorated, elaborately crafted armor, helmets, and accessories worn by the powerful Japanese Samarai military, of the Koelliker collection in Milan. Scanning the rows of assembled armor and carved masks, admiring the expert workmanship, you almost expect these warrior figures to leap up, with swords raised high, and charge the crowd.

At the Museo Fortuny

  • Until July 18th
  • €9 includes museum entrance and all exhibitions
  • Closed Tuesdays

(And while you’re there, make sure to seek out the open door in the back corner of the second floor…then let us know what you find there. It’s completely unexpected…)