Erbaria and Pescheria
This empty space giving onto the Grand Canal is the Erbaria, which is Venetian for Herbs Store. This part of the Rialto market would have been full of stalls selling all sorts of herbs, vegetables and fruits. Today the Erbaria is a popular hang-out spot where young people meet for an aperitivo in the evening.
Before moving on, on the wall above the bar facing the canal you’ll see the white sign “Erbaria”; this, as all the other street signs around the city, is unlike any other sign in the world. Venetians have a particular word for the them: “nissioleti”, which is Venetian for small blankets, almost as if the sign had been stretched out lightly and hung onto the wall like a thin blanket.
“El cuor no se vende” – “the heart cannot be sold”, was a slogan spread across the canal side of the Pescheria of Rialto, that is, the Fish Market you are in now; this incident occurred when Venetians successfully opposed the sale of the Palazzo to an Arab emir about a decade ago. The actual structure of columns you see was built in 1907, so it is relatively new; in fact, previously there would have been an excited mix of tents and moored boats of all sizes here, where fishermen would sell their merchandise to haggling Venetians. Given the vast number of merchant boats, the traffic in this area of the Grand Canal was so problematic that in the 16th century that the Republic decided that fish could only be sold by Venetian residents, and only if they could prove they were over 50 and had been professional fishermen for at least 20 years.
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