«Rialto's fish market»

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

Luigi Barzini described 'Venezia' in The New York Times as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man". It is certainly in my top 5, London, Hong Kong and New York also having the many aspects that appeal to me.
But I am hardly an expert.

I hope you will enjoy my report on 'La Serenissima'.

Rialto's fish market, Venice

Deep in thought.
That overhead message is indeed food for thought: Rialto No Se Toca, a protest adressed to those who wish the Rialto fishmongers and shopkeepers to move, for developing this area: for another hotel on the Canal Grande?

Rialto's fish market (on the Campo della Pescaria, Vapo stop 'Rialto Mercato', Canal Grande) does not want to be moved to a 'terraferma' warehouse for some alleged economic development.
The fish (and vegetables) market has indeed outgrown its historic setting, but there is so little normal life and so much tourism here in Venice it is quite imperative this should remain unchanged.
Another hotel and/or souvenir complex here would be a disaster.
But that sign has been at least for three years in place, so it seems to be working.

Rialto's fish market, Venice

Rialto's fish market, Venice

Rialto's fish market, Venice



Rialto's fish market, Venice
The historic setting of the 'Mercato del Pesci'.

Rialto's fish market, Venice

Rialto's fish market, Venice
The covered market place.

Rialto's fish market, Venice
So many fish of sorts I have never before laid my eyes on.




The wells of Venice
Campo San Polo.
Only after having taken a few photo of these 'campi' I noticed the cisterns, or wells. There must be a
future project in it, I think. For now I have to do it with this series. I pursued this theme in 2020, HERE...

Venice's underground does not have easy-to-reach water tables. Up to a century ago, fresh water was drawn from the springs on the mainland and transported in casks to the lagoon by boat.
This supplemented the traditional rainwater collection system built in the campi and campielli: it consisted of a wellhead and an underground cistern, filled with clean sand, with a waterproof layer of clay all around that served as a barrier against the infiltration of saltwater.
The rainwater penetrated into the ground by means of collectors positioned around the well, located at slightly lower levels than the rest of the campo; it filtered through the sand down to the waterproof clay bottom of the cistern. The well shaft, which was waterproofed by a layer of clay (tera da saòn, soap earth) spread along its entire length, filled up from below with the collected water, which had been purified as it drained through the sand.
The water was drawn with buckets.


The wells of Venic
Campo Santa Margherita.

Venice was surrounded by salt water but didn't have drinking water, so some wells were built to collect rainwater. The wells vera, is a typical Venetian word that means the visible stone, the one that covers the well itself.
At the beginning, to cover the wells, recycled materials were used, taken from the ruins of Altino; in fact the oldest wells have vere made with some portions of capitals and columns sections. Many of these vere show effigy of the family that has built the well.
The largest one is located in campo San Polo and measures 320 cm in diameter.
In XIX century the census counted about six thousand wells, but after 1884, after the aqueduct construction, many wells were destroyed especially the brick ones.
In Corte Fontana at St. Marina you can see the last artifact.
Today Venice has about 600 wells, of which none are in use.


The wells of Venic
Camp Santa Maria Formosa (Formosa is to be read as 'formidable' here)

The wells of Venic
I don't recall where this was taken and apparently I had my gps not working on my camera.
There is a sign over that alley, 'Sotoportego Perini', but Google Maps could not find it.

The wells of Venic
A second well on Campo Santa Margherita.

The wells of Venic
Campo San Stin.

The wells of Venic
Many of these cistern show effigy of the family that has built the well.
This is a cistern at a church on the Calle di Mezzo (Dorsoduro).

The wells of Venic
A nice quiet square: Campo Bandiera e Moro.
That church in the background is the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista in Bargora.


If the acqua alta appears during your visit, you'll see the first puddles in the center of paved squares, pooling around the limestone grates at the square's lowest point.
These grates cover cisterns that long held Venice's only source of drinking water. That's right: Surrounded by the lagoon and beset by constant flooding, this city had no natural source of fresh water!
For centuries, residents carried water from the mainland with much effort and risk. In the ninth century, they devised a way to collect rainwater by using paved, cleverly sloped squares as catchment systems, with limestone filters covering underground clay tubs.
Venice's population grew markedly once citizens were able to access fresh water by simply dropping buckets down into these 'wells'.
Several thousand cisterns provided the city with drinking water up until 1886, when an aqueduct was built (paralleling the railroad bridge) to bring in water from nearby mountains.
Now the wells are capped, the clay tubs are rotted out, and rain drains from squares into the lagoon - or up from it, as the case may be.

The wells of Venic
La dolce vita at Squero San Trovaso; a different well from the one below.

The wells of Venic
Across the Fondamente Nani, on the Fondamente Bonlini (along the Rio de S. Trovaso, in Dorsoduro) and
next to the San Trovaso church is this beautiful cistern; below in close up.