Venice's famous Erbaria Market - a visual feast

Venice's famous Erbaria Market - a visual feast

Every morning, except Sunday, between San Polo square and the Rialto bridge, Venice's market stretches across three squares. This is where Venetians come to do their grocery shopping, just as they have since the 11th Century.

Everything, of course, arrives by boat. Before sunrise, fish mongers dressed in rubber aprons and wellington boots haul crates of seafood from boats tied to the edge of the Grand Canal.

Pushing trolleys, piled high above their heads with crates, they navigate their way to stalls under the awnings in piazza San Polo and set about arranging their catch into glistening piles. Soon customers will arrive to inspect the vongole, scampi and prawns that have been fished from the lagoon in the early hours of the morning.

Just beyond, the fruit and vegetable stalls are presided over by family's who have supplied locals for generations. Heads of curly radicchio sit beside whole artichokes which have been peeled and cleaned so that only the heart remains, they bob in water laced with lemon to keep them fresh, baby chillies pepperoncino have been tied into bunches and are wrapped like flowers. Venetians pour over the produce, selecting only the best to take home.

Cheese mongers, butchers and bakers run the small shops that line the squares, in between, tiny espresso and cicchetti bars offer coffee, breakfast and morning snacks.

Cook, author and cooking teacher Contessa Enrica Rocca, has always bought the ingredients for her cooking classes and photoshoots here. “It is very different to other markets in the world,“ she says. “A 'must see' for anyone who loves food.“

Before heading home to her palazzo to begin preparation for the day's classes, Enrica concludes her shopping expedition with a mid-morning snack. “I stop for a snack at All'Arco, it is the best bacaro in Venice,“ she says.

By afternoon, the market stalls have been packed away, they are replaced by chairs and tables as locals meet for a drink, a chat and plates of cicchetti that just hours before were raw ingredients.

For more information about Contessa Enrica Rocca visit

Image: Embaria Markets, Venice

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