“Cities you go to, food you find” if there was a saying to define our beautiful Italy it would certainly be this. Our territory is in fact small in size but it is so rich in different climates and landscapes that it has given rise to a varied and complex cuisine over the centuries.
Italy is often identified as the home of pizza and pasta, of course both perfectly summarize the spirit and the essence of italianness but it would be a mistake to believe that these two delicious dishes are the mirror of the traditions of each italian region. If Emilia Romagna is famous for its sliced salami and its sublime Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, if Tuscany is the land of Chianina meat and Chianti wine, if Calabria is known for its spicy chillies and Sicily is the mother of Arancini (little fried rise balls with ragù sauce inside) and blood oranges, Veneto is home to radicchio, rice and Prosecco wine.
As you can see in a few lines and with a few examples we have already highlighted so many differences. Above i mentioned Veneto, the region which is lucky enough to have Venice as its capital. Moving now from a regional plan to a more specific one, that we could define Venice-centric, what are the culinary wonders that this splendid city give us?
Talking about food in Venice means making a leap into its old history. I always like to define the city as the most oriental that can be found in the western part of the world; this link with the East is in fact visible on every stone and on every mosaic of what they once called the Serenissima. The merchant traffic, the ships that sailed the seas of the known world, the waves of foreign merchants who stayed in the famous Fondaci (literally houses with wearhouses) to take care of their business, have in fact allowed the city to become a mix of different cultures and traditions.
This link between different cultures has inevitably manifested itself also in the venetian cuisine, which thanks to the numerous influences it has undergone, could be defined as one of the most varied in the world. But let’s not waste time chatting, on the contrary let’s go straight to the list of some of the most typical dishes of the lagoon. In other words, let’s analyse those delicacies that you absolutely cannot think of not tasting once you set foot in Venice.
It is probably the symbol of the city. There is no bacaro, restaurant or tavern that has not placed it on its menu. Its presence on the venetian tables is due to Captain Pietro Querini who, in the 15th century, after a shipwreck ended up staying for a few weeks in the Lofoten Islands, in Northern Europe.
There, he got to know the tradition of stockfish, codfish dried in the air and in the sun. On his return to the Serenissima, he made sure to take some samples with him and from that moment cod went straight into the culinary tradition of Venice. The recipe requires the boiling of the fish with bay leaves and lemon for about twenty minutes. Once cooked, the cod is just creamed with oil in a thin stream, salt and pepper.
The result is a soft and velvety cream perfect on bread croutons or on a slice of grilled polenta. A real treat!
Saor, which in venetian dialect means “sapore” so taste in english, consists of a sweet and sour preparation based on onions, vinegar, pine nuts and raisins. This delicious dish has ancient origins.
In fact, the presence of vinegar allows food to be kept for many days. Considering the lack of refrigerators, the saor was therefore the perfect method to consume even that fish (not only sardines) which was not really fresh. The recipe requires the frying of sardines and on the side the preparation of the saor. In a pan the onions (a lot of them) are browned with a drizzle of oil.Once dried, sugar is added to caramelize and the whole thing is deglazed with vinegar (the more vinegar is added the more intense the saor will be).
Lastly, fire off, pine nuts and raisins are put in. Finally we proceed with the preparation of the dish: a layer of saor has to be alternated with one of fried sardines, as if it was a lasagna, until the ingredients are used up. Saor must necessarely be prepared a couple of days in advace so the fish absorbes all the flavors and it becomes a real treat!
Polenta in Veneto is really eaten in every possible way, but if served with schie it becomes even tastier. First of all, what are the schie? They are very small shrimp typical of the venetian lagoon. Despite their small size, their taste is really intense. You can taste them fried but the version you’re going to prefer is the boiled one. In fact, if boiled and seasoned with a drizzle of oil, pepper and parsley and served with hot and soft polenta, they will simply be somptuous.
Here two great venetian products are combined: rice and squid ink. Risotto is certainly a widespread first course in all of the northern regions of Italy. Whether you prefer it soupy or dry, it is a truly versatile dish that can be prepared with the most varied ingredients: vegetables, meat and of course in Venice with fish. If you love the strong and at the same time delicate taste of squid, you definitely have to try their ink. The colour might seem uninviting for a dish but the taste will amaze you!
If you love shellfish, especially shrimp, you should definitely try the pasta, usually spaghetti, alla Busara. Its origins probably date back to after the war and could be sought in Istria (present day Croatia) but the dish is perfectly framed in the tradition of the city. The name busara has multiple meanings. Some claim it was an earthenware pot used on board ships, others say it means “lie” because of the presence of tomato sauce which somehow covered the taste of shrimp. Today one thing is certain, the shrimp in the busara sauce are definitely the protagonists and their taste gives the tomato a unique flavour.
It is a dish with very poor origins. Bigoli in sauce were considered a lean option because they were consumed during those days when the precepts of religion imposed abstinence from certain food. The ingredients to make the sauce are actually poor: onions and anchovies. Don’t be fooled though, the taste on the contrary is an explosion of rich flavors.
The realization of the recipe is really simple. For the sauce, brown the onion with a generous dose of oil and add the anchovies. While cooking, these will flake off and create a mouth-watering sauce. The bigoli, a type of long pasta similar to spaghetti but much thicker, must instead be boiled, drained and finally whipped with the sauce.
Don’t worry, if you don’t like fish, here’s a traditional venetian meat dish: liver…venetian style of course. Why is it defined like this? Because the dish is characterized by the presence of an ingredient that we have already mantioned extensively and which is very dear to the city: onions. The liver, usually from veal but it can also be found from pork, is simply cut into strips and cooked in a pan with oil, butter and onions. A sprinkle of vinegar is also inevitable as it is excellent to dampen the strong taste of the meat and the sweet but intense taste of the onions.
You don’t want to live Venice without having tried some typical sweets, do you? In addition to being delicious, the Buranelli are also the perfect souvenir for friends anf family. These cookies are typical of the island of Burano, one of the three main island of the venetian lagoon together with Murano and Torcello. The ingredients are among the most classic for sweet preparations: flour, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla flavouring. The recipe is very simple; just assemle everything and create donut-shaped cookies, bake for about twenty minutes in the oven and you’re done. Try them, they are amazing!
If you are in Venice during the Carnival period (unfortunately, or fortunately for those who want to keep in shape, they can only be enjoyed in those weeks) you absolutely have to stop in one of the many historic pastry shops and taste the famous frittelle (in Venetian dialect fritole). Their origins are very ancient, they probably date back to the 14th century. They are made of a thick and sticky batter made from eggs, butter, milk , flour, yeast, sugar and flavourings which is then fried “spoon by spoon” in boiling oil and then stuffed. The classic venetian one actually has no filling but only raisin which is put directly in the row dough. The sweet tooth can taste the many variations with chocolate filling, classic cream, pistacchio cream and a bunch of other flavors. The whole city, at Carnival, smells like frittelle… it is the scent of joy!
Baicoli are typical cookies of the venetian tradition. They have ancient origins and they are said to have been consumed by sailors forced to long periods of absence from home because of their long preservation over time. They are made of a very simple dough based on water, flour, yeast, butter, sugar amd egg whites. The consistency of these sweets is very different from the above mentioned Buranelli; if those are buttery and crumbly, the Baicoli are on the contrary “hard” and crunchy. They are perfect together with mascarpone cream, eggnog or an excellent sweet wine.
We could mention many other dishes that make Venetian cuisine a real Italian gem, but surely the above mentioned onces are already enough to let you have a real deep dive in the most authentic Venetian essence.
Travelling doen’t just mean moving from one place to another. Travelling means opening your mind and heart to new experiences, it means living different cultures and traditions and knowing stories of exciting characters. But there is more, travelling also means experiencing the local cuisine because there is no monument nor museum that can convey the soul of a country, or a city, or a people as perfectly as the dishes that its inhabitants traditionally consume do.
Food is history, it is life, it is culture, it is art and beauty, it is sharing and joy so what would Venice be without its baccalà mantecato or its frittelle?
What more can I say? Fasten your seat belts, set the navigator towards Venice and…enjoy your meal!
Best view in Venice? The answer is Fondaco dei Tedeschi. But what is a FONDACO in Venice specifically? The word comes from the the Arabic funduq, which literally means hotel. The Italian meaning of it is actually casa-magazzino, literally house-warehouse. In other words it is a place where foreign merchants would deposit their goods, exercise their traffics and often live.
Venice has always been a crossroad of cultures, races, languages and people from all over the world. This diversity has turned it into the perfect mix between the East and the West.
Looking back to its glorious past, it is not difficult to imagine the busy merchant traffic of everyday life. The revolving door of boats, the vitality of the colors of the spices. The fabrics coming from the far away East. The great number of people with different cultural and geographical backgrounds, all living together in the intricate and yet amazing maze of little streets and alleys that Venice is.
Being one the most important bench marks of the maritime merchant shipping, with one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean area, Venice would host merchants from all over the world. These people had important and big businesses in the city. Their staying here was often a long one. For this reason walking down the streets of Venice it is possible to notice the FONDACI or FONDAGHI, in Venetian dialect.
Being a city built on the water, Venice has always given a great importance to its canals. They were, and still are, its main roads. This is the reason why all of the most important palaces have a facade on the Grand Canal, definitely the greatest street of all.
Considering that business and commercial exchanges would be performed directly on the water, the most important Fondaci have a safe place there too.
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi, or German Fondaco, finds itself in a majestic and beautiful palace a few steps away from the Rialto Bridge. The building as you see it today dates back to the 16th century. They rebuilt it after a terrible fire that completely destroyed it in the early 1500’s. In fact, the original Fondaco was founded in 1288. This makes it one of the most ancient palaces in the city.
The facade in its present form might seem plane but it must had been a total wonder to the past traveler’s eyes. It used to be decorated with the spectacular frescos by Giorgione and Tiziano, now unfortunately lost.
The ground floor would be used for the loading and unloading of the goods and of course as a warehouse. In the other floors, that hosted something like 200 rooms, the merchants had their apartments and offices.
As the Republic fell in 1797 the Fondaco was abolished by Napoleon and lost there its traditional and crucial role. It was the end of an era.
In the 30’s the building became property of the Italian Post Office and was renovated in some of its parts. In particular with the demolition of the side turrets and the adding of some windows.
The contemporary use of the fondaco in Venice as a luxury shopping center dates back to 2016. With a 40 million restoration the place was turned into a wonderland for the most inveterate shopaholics. On the ground floor it is possible to find any type of food and goodies. To enjoy a coffee, a glass of wine or a snack in one of the different bars. The higher floors host more than 60 shops selling the most popular and exclusive brands.
However, the main reason why one should have a look inside is its spectacular terrace on the top floor. The view from there is simply one of the most breathtaking one can find in the city. The perspective is a 360 degrees one on the Grand Canal. It is possible to see the Rialto Bridge, the most impressive palaces, roofs, bell towers and churches. Moreover, the romantic and amazing Venice as a whole, including its lagoon, islands and even the hills and mountains surrounding it. To guarantee a certain order especially in these difficult Covid days, it is recommended to make a reservation to be allowed to have a spot on the terrace. Here is the link.
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi, now known as T Fondaco, is one of the many unexpected surprises in Venice. It is also one of the most controversial places you can find here. As a matter of fact, on the one hand it represents an example of how an ancient and historical building can find a new light and become a contemporary bulwark. On the other hand many Venetian would consider themselves very upset by the new touristy face of such an important witness of the golden commercial past. Click here to know more about massive tourism in Venice.
Whatever position you fell to agree with, it is unquestionably true to say the past and the present are somehow once again reunited. Although the commercial purposes and the goods exposed are completely different, the building preserves its ancient meaning: that of buying and selling.
Can tourism in Venice be sustainable? This has probably become the most urgent question in the last few years. But before we go into the answer lets sum up the principles sustainable tourism is based on. Quoting the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) sustainable tourism should:
In other words sustainable tourism should allow the traveler to enjoy the chosen holiday destination. Travelers should do that in total respect of its society, environment and economy. The idea is that of visiting a place trying to really live its traditions and uses. Eating its food, buying its typical products, helping the businesses of its locals as well as admiring the beauties the chosen area has to offer.
As far as Venice is concerned, the combination of massive tourism and the reckless idea of turning the city into a money machine, has brought its authenticity down. It is more and more common to find shops selling shoddy goods and touristy traps providing terrible quality food. Sometimes if it is not that terrible, in any case it is not typical. The most classic example is the one of restaurants promising you the best carbonara, pasta al ragù, or pesto of your life. Although all of the above mantioned dishes are Italian, none of them is typical in Venice. The city finds itself in the middle of a lagoon which faces the sea, so traditional food here is fish. To find out what to eat in Venice, click here.
Moreover, many of the businesses in the city are not even held by Venetians. Many others, although held by locals, unfortunately pass the tourists the worst messages about Venetian traditions. For example, the shops selling bad glittery plastic masks! As a matter of fact the traditional Venetian mask is a papier-mache one, and it takes a lot of time and care to make one.
These were just some examples of how bad the situation has gone so far. So, to answer the initial question, yes tourism in Venice can be sustainable. How? Thanks to the collaboration of us tourism operators and you travelers and tourists! It is our job to help you finding the best options for an authentic Venetian experience. To explain you our traditions and uses. To guide you at the discovery of a better Venice. It is your job to respect the city by following our pieces of advice and by being aware of what to do and how to do it.
So, to sum up, here is a little list of suggestions for you to become the best sustainable tourists (even if we are sure that many of you already are! 🙂
We truly believe that if we establish this happy, long term collaboration between us locals and tourism operators and you, people who are coming to Venice to enjoy it and relax yourselves, the city can keep living and prospering in the centuries to come. It is very important that each one of us plays its own part or the city will soon be swallowed up by its own strongest source of income.
Every year, on March 25th, Venice celebrates its birthday! This year, like for many of us, it will be the second birthday celebrated during covid-19 lockdown! But this is a very special anniversary for Venice, the city turns 1600 years old! It’s a very important birthday! Why was Venice founded in the middle of the water? Let’s look at the most important stages in the growth of Venice!
According to tradition, Venice was founded on the 25th of March 421 AD. On that day, at Noon, they positioned the first stone of the church of San Giacometo. The 25th of March is also the day of the Annunciation. Venetians entrusted themselves to the protection of the Virgin Mary, the one who was able to give birth to the Son of God and his message of salvation. Of course, the most beautiful city in the world couldn’t have humble origins!
The first area where people started settling was the area of Rivoaltus. The name is due to the fact that it was located on an island slightly higher than the others. This is the area around the current Rialto bridge. The bridge was named after the Rivoaltus area. How come that people decided to settle and built a city in the middle of a lagoon? They had to face sand, water and mud, it wasn’t the perfect habitat for humans! You have to know that during the 5th and 6th centuries Barbarian invasions began. Italy was the scene of the ferocious raids of the barbarians and the lagoon was an ideal place to take refuge. That’s why people started escaping from the mainland and started settling in the islands of the lagoon. They had to work a lot to shape the islands and find the right technique to built resistant buildings. It is thanks to the hard work and commitment of those people that today we can admire the magnificent palaces and churches of Venice!
From the first settlements that started in the 6th century, the expansion of urban soil in Venice will continue for centuries. It was a long, hard and complex process. Venice overcame many challenges, some problems still require hard work and commitment! Thanks to the Mose project the city finally seems to be protected for the high tide and they are promoting new plans to encourage sustainable tourism. The city now is quiet and calm, covid-19 crisis has hit the economy of the city very hard! Venice will celebrate 1600 years with a sober party! But fingers crossed for next year! We are expecting you to come and enjoy the beauty of Venice soon with one of our tours! In the meantime…Happy Birthday Venice!
Carnival is the most popular festival in Venice, its origins in the city date back to the 13th century when the Doge made it a public holiday. Originally Carnival in Venice started on the 26th of December and lasted for several weeks until the beginning of Christian Lent. Carnival was an occasion of social release. People were gathering together celebrating by eating the most tasty food and dancing all day long.
Throughout the centuries Venetian Carnival has become famous all over Europe. People from other countries arrived in Venice to enjoy the celebrations. That way, Carnival quickly turned into a luxurious festival with elaborated costumes and masks. In that period there were parties all over the city inside the beautiful palaces on the Gran Canal. To attend those parties masks were mandatory! This way you didn’t know who the person in front of you was! You could party with a sailor, a nobleman, an actress, a commoner and you didn’t care! The idea was that of hiding your identity and your social standing in order not to judge or to be judged by anyone. You can guess that anything could happen in those occasions…and when we say anything, we really mean anything! This general freedom also had some negative outbound. Crime began to raise. With the mask on criminals were unpunished, they couldn’t recognize them! That’s why the Republic of Venice started imposing some rules to control Carnival. They forbade to wear a mask in the streets after dark. They also abolished them inside churches, monasteries and convents. We can say that even friars and nuns enjoyed celebrating Carnival!
On the bright side that of producing masks became an actual art. Venetian mask makers used their talent and creativity. They made masks with papier mache and decorated them with pearls, feathers and glitters. They could be colorful, extravagant and lavish, never sober! This is a tradition that has survived up to current days. The mask is still the most typical souvenir in Venice. If you get lost in the little alleys you can find laboratory shops and even craft your own mask.
BAUTA: it is the quintessential mask of Venetian tradition. It was particularly popular inside casinos (houses for gambling and brothels). As a matter of fact, its beak like shape allowed people to eat and drink without taking it off. It was also a way to disguise your voice.
MORETTA: it was a small black velvet mask. It had French origins and it was exclusively for women. Guess why? In order to wear it, they must held it in their mouth. In this way it was impossible for those women to talk! This silence was a weapon of seduction as it added a huge amount of mystery to the game.
PLAGUE DOCTOR: originally doctors used this mask during plague epidemics. It has got a long beak where they put dried herbs and flowers to avoid breathing the bad smell of their patients! The length of the beak also allowed them to maintain some distance from the corpses.
After many centuries of fun and great celebrations Carnival in Venice ended with the Napoleonic invasion that started in 1797. The darkest pages of Venetian history corresponded to the end of this magnificent Festival. Venetians would have to wait until contemporary times to bring the spirit of Carnival back to life. As a matter of fact, it was only in the 70’s that a group of students and local associations started organizing the first parades with music, costumes and masks. Today the main celebrations are held in Saint Mark’s Square. They still organize splendid balls inside the palaces on the Grand Canal. Tickets can be very expensive but we believe it is one of those lifetime experiences you must live at least once. Unfortunately the covid-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of all public events. But don’t worry, Carnival 2021 will be an online event. For more info, check this link out! Fingers crossed for next year! We are looking forward to meet you soon in Venice to host you in one of our tours and have a nice spritz together…who knows, maybe right during Carnival time!
You’re planning to come to visit Venice but all you have is a day? Don’t panic! It might seem impossible to learn something about it in such a limited time, but there are actually many things you can do and many places you can visit. We garantee this will turn your short staying into an unforgettable and intense experience. Here is a list of the six things you should include in your plans to exploit every minute in this amazing city!
It might seem a little bit obvious but there are certain wonders in Venice that you really have to visit. It doesn’t matter the time you do or do not have, the crowds you may find in the city, the weather or your personal mood, Saint Mark’s square is a must!
Our suggestion is to go there early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Once you get there you’ll notice there is really a lot to see! Of course it would be great to have the chance to visit both the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. Considering you limited time, our suggestion is to enter only the church so that you can admire the amazing golden mosaics and the beautiful byzantine architecture. The Palace is obviously an interesting museum but it will take a lot of your time away so decide accordingly. Anyway don’t worry because whatever you choose, the incredible architecture of the square as a whole is so overwhelming that simply looking around it, will make your day brighter.
Another must do: The Rialto Bridge! There are more then 400 bridges in the city and each one of them has its own charm and allure but none of them is as impressive and romantic as the Rialto one. The version you can admire today dates back to the 1500’s but they built the original bridge in the 1200’s. The purpose was connecting the market area (Rialto) to the political one (Saint Mark’s Square). Our suggestion is to get there early in the morning so that you can also visit the traditional fish market. Walking through the different stands selling from fresh fish to fruit and vegetables, from meat to cheese, you will be able to breath an authentic Venetian atmosphere. It will allow you to take part of one of the most traditional and ancient experiences in the city.
Visiting the city will carry you on a different dimension, so much so that you will not feel the tiredness and you’ll want to walk and explore more and more.
But, if you can forget the fatigue, what about the hunger? Well, that is a much more complicated issue! 😉 Since walking with your belly empty is not an option, our suggestion is that of stopping in one of the thousands bars of the city and trying a truly Venetian traditional food: the Cicchetti.
They are pieces of bread similar to the Spanish tapas with many ingredients on top of them. For example: cheese, fish, meet, vegetables and other types of finger food like meatballs, salty muffins and little pies. The most traditional ones are the Baccalà Mantecato (marinated codfish) and the Sarde in Saor (fried sardines marinated in a bitter sweet vinegar sauce). For a truly Venetian experience, remember to combine your cicchetti with a glass of good wine or a Spritz. Drinking and eating are two very important aspects of the Venetian life so you cannot say you deeply enjoyed Venice without having stopped in one of our Bacari (bars).
Venice is such a people-friendly city, that you can wander around it just walking. This will allow you not to spend extra money for the public transportation, which is wonderful because that way you will save it for your spritz…or better..your many spritzes!!
Joking apart, be prepared, as walking in Venice is often a synonym for getting lost; don’t worry tough, just do it! It is actually the best possible way to enjoy the city. Venice is like an open air museum. Every corner, little alley, canal, every palace and piece of stone tell you a story and dive you into the history and the beauty of the city. So take a couple of hours where you just explore Venice without a purpose, walking, taking pictures, looking around and filling your eyes with its incredible beauty.
One of the best areas to get lost in the city is probably Castello district, the biggest and one of the most residential we have. Our suggestion is that of taking a nice walk on the breathtaking Riva degli Schiavoni, which is a long bank facing Saint Mark’s basin. The view from there is one of the best you can find in the city and once you arrive at the end of the long street you will reach the green area of Sant’Elena. From there, you can have fun exploring the inland areas, reaching San Pietro di Castello and simply enjoying the feeling of being lost in Venice.
We promise you sooner or later you’ll find your way back to the central areas and with a bunch of amazing pictures you wouldn’t be able to take otherwise! 🙂
The Grand Canal is the main road in Venice. The most important and breathtaking palaces dating back to different periods and mirroring the different architectural styles, are all there. Missing this water perspective is really a shame as the real essence of the city lies there.
Venice is inextricably and inevitably both land and sea so you really need to combine walking and sailing. Our suggestion is that of taking regular public transportation. The best Vaporetto (water bus) is line number 2 as it is the fastest one on the Grand Canal. You can either start from Piazzale Roma (the bus station) or from Saint Mark’s Square. The number is always the same, you just have to check for the direction. Lido if you start from Piazzale Roma, Piazzale Roma if you start from the Square. It will take you half an hour more or less and the tour will definitely take your breath away!
Last but not least, book one of our Touring Different Tours! They are the best way to learn a lot about the city in a relatively short time! We are all passionate, young, fun, professional guides! Our crew is more than committed into giving you plenty of information about the interesting history of Venice. The guides will also talk about how the city was built, its popular churches, the great artists and traditions that contributed to turn it into the amazing place it is today. Last but not least we will tell you many more fun stories, legends and give you good tips on how to experience Venice as a local.
You can find us every morning in Campo della Carità, in front of the entrance of the Academy Gallery of Arts, for an adventurous and artistic tour of the southern Dorsoduro district. In the afteroon you can find us in Campo delle Fava, one step away from the Rialto bridge, for an historical and introductory tour in the northern area of Venice.
We simply love our city! Our team is determined to convey our passion to you and really turn your staying in Venice into an unforgettable experience. Each guide really wants to fill you with good memories and interesting stories that you can share with your families and friends.
It would be unnecessary to say that a lifetime in Venice wouldn’t be enough to explore all of its hidden corners and to learn all of its secret stories. Nevertheless, following our personal mini guide you will be able to take home with you the perfect mix between the conventional and the unconventional sides of the city. You’ll feel like you lived three full days of explorations and enrichment all condensed into one.
Il ponte di Rialto è stato il primo ponte costruito sul Canal Grande; la sua storia ha inizio con la fondazione di Venezia: i primi insediamenti si stabilirono in questa zona, chiamata Rivoalto, per la presenza di terreno più rialzato rispetto al resto delle isole. Con lo sviluppo della città, Rivoalto diventa il centro della vita politica e commerciale di Venezia: la zona si riempie di magazzini, mercati, botteghe di gioielli, stoffe preziose, spezie ecc. A quell’epoca, per attraversare il Canal Grande, i cittadini utilizzavano un’imbarcazione chiamata “traghetto”.
Questa barca faceva la spola da una riva all’altra del canale e permetteva di attraversarlo pagando un pedaggio. Nel 1180 venne costruito il primo ponte a Rivoalto. Era fatto da barche, legate tra loro e con in mezzo un ponte levatoio per permettere il passaggio delle imbarcazioni; questo ponte era chiamato “Ponte della moneta”, in quanto per attraversarlo era sempre necessario pagare un pedaggio.
Nel 1255 il ponte venne ricostruito, questa volta interamente in legno, sopra a delle palafitte e mantenendo il ponte levatoio nel mezzo. I veneziani iniziarono a chiamarlo “Rialto”, da una contrazione del nome della zona in cui era stato costruito, Rivoalto.
Il ponte rimase intatto fino al 1310, anno che a Venezia è tristemente noto per la congiura di Bajamonte Tiepolo, organizzata da alcuni patrizi veneziani che volevano ribellarsi al Doge. Avevano pianificato un attacco a Palazzo Ducale (sede del governo) e l’uccisione del Doge, ma il loro piano fallì: le guardie li sorpresero in Piazza San Marco e costrinsero i ribelli alla fuga. Questi attraversarono il ponte e, per non essere catturati, gli diedero fuoco. Tutti i membri della congiura vennero poi catturati ed esiliati; nonostante il ponte fosse danneggiato dalle fiamme, venne riparato.
Riuscì a “sopravvivere” fino al 1444, anno in cui Venezia ospitò le nozze del Marchese di Ferrara. Il corteo nuziale prevedeva una sfilata di barche sul Canal Grande; tutti i veneziani volevano assistere allo spettacolo e vedere la sposa; in molti si radunarono a Rialto per avere una migliore visuale, ma la folla era così numerosa che il ponte non resse al peso e crollò! Per fortuna l’unica vittima di questo incidente fu il ponte!
Venne ricostruito nel 1450, sempre in legno. Vista l’instabilità, la Repubblica di Venezia decise finalmente di indire un concorso per la costruzione di un nuovo ponte in pietra: materiale sicuramente più resistente del legno.
Tra i partecipanti alla gara c’erano diversi nomi importanti dell’architettura italiana come Palladio, Sansovino, Michelangelo. Il vincitore fu Antonio da Ponte (il suo cognome deve avergli portato fortuna) che propose la soluzione che soddisfaceva tutti i requisiti posti dalla Serenissima. Il ponte venne completato nel 1591, costruito in pietra d’Istria, per le sue fondamenta si usarono 12000 pali in legno d’olmo, ha un’unica arcata di 28 metri e 24 negozi (12 per lato).
Il ponte è diviso in tre corsie: quella centrale è larga 10 metri e ha degli scalini più alti; le due laterali invece sono larghe 3 metri. Gli scalini sono più piccoli perché sono state progettate per essere attraversate dai carrelli per la consegna delle merci in tutta la città.
Per costruirlo la Repubblica di Venezia spese 250000 ducati, dieci volte il prezzo del precedente in legno. Oggi possiamo ammirarlo in tutto il suo splendore originale, dato che è stato recentemente restaurato.
Rialto è uno dei luoghi più fotografati di tutta Venezia, tappa obbligata per ogni viaggiatore; abbiamo altri aneddoti e curiosità da raccontarvi sul ponte e la zona circostante, venite a scoprirle durante uno dei nostri tour!