For lovers of history and culture, there is no better way to experience the unparalleled delights of Italy than by luxury barge cruise. Offering a unique perspective on Italian life, you’ll be able to drift through some of the most famous destinations the country has to offer. Join your modern and comfortable barge cruise experience with the ancient traditions and rich heritage of Italian civilisation, and see the country from a whole new outlook.
The Rialto Bridge
One of the oft-cited highlights of a luxury barge cruise in Italy is a trip to the Mercato Rialto, the famous Venetian market full of local specialties. The market is located to the north-west of the celebrated Rialto bridge, a dazzling white spectacle near St. Mark’s square that lays claim to being the first link between the two sides of the Grand Canal. Rebuilt in its characteristic white stone in 1588, it held onto its title as the only bridge across the waterway for nearly three hundred years. The Rialto bridge is 22 metres wide and spans 48 metres across, with shops nestled beneath its arches. The bridge is a famous landmark of Venice, so make sure you plan it into your itinerary when you stop on your luxury barge cruise.
The market finds its home within the arches of a sixteenth-century building that lies on the bank of the Grand Canal. The neo-gothic pavilions were constructed after a fire destroyed the city’s original marketplace.
The mercato itself is a bustling hub of activity that doesn’t exclusively attract tourists – local Venetians will be found wandering the stalls seeking out fresh produce for their regular grocery shop. Fresh mediterranean scents fill the air, and the fruit and vegetables on offer provide a glorious rainbow sea to delight the eyes. The produce on sale changes with the seasons, ensuring that no two days are the same. From artichokes to cherries, fresh asparagus to deep red tomatoes, you’ll be sure to find something to take your fancy and enjoy when you retire to your luxury barge cruise at the end of the day.
The market is legendary for its seafood and fish, with fishermen docking five days a week from the lagoon directly into the trading area. The catch of the day is displayed to hungry customers, with a range of mouth-watering fish, wriggling eels, soft-shelled crabs and impressive swordfish. The Pescheria is probably the most well-known part of the mercato, and definitely shouldn’t be missed off your schedule when you’re exploring the city.
Once you’ve scoured the stalls and sampled the delights of the Venetian traders, unwind with a coffee at the nearby Caffé del Doge, or visit one of the nearby trattoria (restaurants) for local wines and delicacies.
It’s believed that markets have been hosted on the site of the Mercato Rialto since 1097, so you mustn’t miss out on visiting this living piece of history. When booking your luxury barge cruise, make sure you choose a well-known and reputable company so you can fully immerse yourself in the Italian experience, safe in the knowledge that all the logistics are taken care of for you.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive luxury barge cruise holiday in Italy, France and many other places. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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