'Pssst, -- I have porcini,' he hissed as we passed his stand. I turned to acknowledge the old man in the blue apron standing smugly beside his neatly arranged vegetable stall. 'Yes', he whispered. 'This morning, right fresh from the country.'
My sister and I had come to shop at the Rialto Market, just around the corner from the Rialto Bridge. A cold and crisp Autumn morning, it was not yet 8 am. The vendor had obviously obtained some of the precious mushrooms and was hopeful of fetching a good price for his treasure.
Rows and rows of stands displaying the abundant harvest of the rich Veneto region. Some stalls specialize in produce from the island gardens on the Venetian Lagoon. Sant’Erasmo and Malamocco are two areas of which legend claims their bounty is slightly salty from the sea-flooded alluvial soil of the lagoon.
In the fall you find lovely red-laced rose radicchio lettuce from nearby Treviso, plump warty-skinned zucca barucca (winter squash), and the gorgeous strong flavored porcini mushrooms. Spring visitors should search for artichokes and wild greens; peas called bisi and the famous white asparagus of the Bassano region.
Each stand pours forth the very best of each vendor’s wares; carefully washed, polished and beautifully stacked and arranged for us the customers. How wonderful to shop here, where not only do we want the best, but the shopkeepers want to give us their best. A visit to this lovely open-air market will make you hate the supermarket back home!