One of the highlights of any trip to Venice during a tour of Europe, the Rialto is well-deserving of its ‘legendary’ status. Read on to find out more about this incredible landmark and the history surrounding it.
Although there has been a crossing point at this location since at least 1181, the current bridge was finally completed in 1591. The job of designing the bridge was reportedly offered to Michelangelo, but the task was handed instead to Antonio da Ponte – whose name incidentally means ‘Anthony of the Bridge.’ Considered by many at the time to be an overly audacious design, it quickly became one of the architectural icons of Venice, with shops lining the walkways.
For almost 300 years, it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot, and was known worldwide as an icon of Venice. In Act I Scene III of Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’, Shylock asks ‘What news on the Rialto?’ Even then, The Rialto was the centre of commerce and trade in the city, with the surrounding area housing large warehouses, banks and insurance agencies, and nearby shops selling various luxury goods.
Today the area is still a busy retail area: head to the Erberia green grocery market, or the fish market on the Campo della Pescheria. Hot tip: If you’re looking for good food, head for ‘Pronto Pesce’, a highly-recommended deli offering traditional Venetian cuisine with a touch of originality.
The Rialto is an enduring landmark, a throwback to Venice’s illustrious past and status as one of Europe’s most impressive and exciting cities.
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