Around Rialto Bridge (Self Guided), Venice

Having first appeared in documents that date back to the 9th century, the Rialto district was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1514, with the church of San Giacomo as the only structure left standing. Today, it is a busy urban village with a daily vegetable and fish market, several historic sights, plus a wide variety of shopping and dining options. Our self-guided walking tour takes you to explore the area on the west side of the famous bridge.

Dig into the neighborhood by first getting familiar with traditional gondolier sweaters and hats (sold at reasonable prices), then check out the elegant white Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, which once housed the city’s treasures.

For higher cultural diversions, visit the San Giacomo and the San Giovanni – two churches of very ancient foundation, the latter completely destroyed by fire in the 16th century and subsequently rebuilt. In between these, Osteria Bancogiro offers cuisine of the highest quality and presentation, with views of the Grand Canal to match.

On the last stage of the itinerary, a visit to Rialto’s food market will forge a deeper connection to the food culture of Venice and reveal local delicacies that you may otherwise have missed. ‘’

Take this self-guided walking tour to meander the streets of the Rialto district at your own pace and immerse oneself in all that is Venice, both past and present.

Getting to Sight #1. The first tour stop (Rialto Bridge) can be reached by: Alilaguna Water Taxi: Arancio (A), Water Bus: 1, 2, 2/, N (night line).
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Around Rialto Bridge Map

Guide Name: Around Rialto Bridge
Guide Location: Italy » Venice (See other walking tours in Venice)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.5 Km or 0.3 Miles
Author: naomi
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)
  • Emilio Ceccato
  • Palazzo dei Camerlenghi
  • Chiesa San Giacomo di Rialto
  • Osteria Bancogiro
  • Chiesa San Giovanni Elemosinario
  • Mercato di Rialto (Rialto Food Market)
  • Mercatino dell'Antiquariato di Rialto
Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)

1) Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) (must see)

There are only four bridges in Venice spanning the Grand Canal and, if you’re exploring the city on foot, you will find yourself crossing at least one of them sooner or later. Ponte di Rialto is the oldest and certainly the most famous of the four, linking the Eastern and Western quarters of Venice – the districts of San Marco and San Polo.

It was originally built of wood in the 12th century, followed by the current stone modification four centuries later. The engineering solution seemed so audacious at the time that certain architects predicted its future ruin. However, the bridge has defied critics to become one of the architectural marvels of Venice which, until 1854, remained the only foot crossing of the Grand Canal before the Accademia bridge was erected.

And if you’re comfortable steering through the hordes of tourists crawling over the bridge, you may enjoy the spectacular views of the canal opening in both directions. Beyond the souvenir stalls are the centuries-old markets that traditionally showcase the abundance of fruits and vegetables harvested on the lagoon islands, as well as the fish freshly caught in the bordering Adriatic Sea – you can even see boats from the Burano and Pellestrina islands unloading their daily catch here.

There are plenty of shops and restaurants within the Rialto bridge area as well, usually overpriced, but masterly tucked in so as not to disturb the heritage exterior. Also by the bridge are waterbus stops, not to mention persuasive gondoliers who just happen to have a vacant gondola with your name on it, in case you're in for a boat ride.

Evening is by far the best time to visit – much quieter and looks stunning.
Emilio Ceccato

2) Emilio Ceccato

If you want to buy a real Venetian product, you should visit the shop of Emilio Ceccato. This shop specializes in gondolier's outfits. It is located very close to the Rialto Bridge (address: "Sotoportego di Rialto"). Many Venetian gondoliers shop there - not only for hats but also, for instance, for those typical sweaters with crosswise stripes. The price for such a hat is around 30 Euro. The shop is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm but Sunday opens from 11 am.
Palazzo dei Camerlenghi

3) Palazzo dei Camerlenghi

Built in the 15th century and finished in 1488, this palazzo was subsequently enlarged in the 1520s and served as the headquarters for several financial magistrates, including the Camerlenghi from whom it takes its name, the Consuls of the Traders and the Supra-Consuls of the Traders. Due to this function, the lower floor was used as a jail for those who defaulted on their debts: the location near the crowded Rialto Bridge served as an admonition for the people passing by.

Currently housing the regional main offices of the Italian Comptroller and Auditor General, the three-storey palazzo has a pentagonal floor plan which follows the shoreline of the Grand Canal. It has tall windows with centrings, divided by false columns and decorated with friezes. There were once polychrome marble and porphyry slabs, now lost. The medallion on the facade once incorporated a painted St Mark's lion.

Due to the Venetian tradition that, when leaving their post, magistrates would leave a religiously themed painting and a portrait in their former office, the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi came to house numerous artworks. Sometimes these paintings expressed social-political notions of civic virtue. These were removed during the French occupation; some eventually returned to Venice, mostly to the Gallerie dell'Accademia.
Chiesa San Giacomo di Rialto

4) Chiesa San Giacomo di Rialto

Chiesa San Giacomo di Rialto is thought to be the oldest church in Venice, firstly built in the 5th century at the time of the first settlement of the island. The present building was erected for the use of the merchants of the Rialto markets around the 12th century. It has a large 15th century clock above the entrance, a useful item in the Venetian business district but regarded as a standing joke for its inaccuracy. The Gothic portico is one of the few surviving examples in Venice. It has a Latin cross plan with a central dome. Inside, the Veneto-Byzantine capitals on the six columns of ancient Greek marble date from the 11th century.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Osteria Bancogiro

5) Osteria Bancogiro

Osteria Bancogiro is a great place to taste real Venetian food. This restaurant and coffee bar is located in one of the best locations in Venice, just between the market and the Rialto bridge. There are plenty of fish dishes on the menu and some of the dishes are Venice classics. You can also enjoy a cocktail at very reasonable prices despite its great location. The terrace is open in warm weather so you can get a nice view of the Grand Canal.

Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 9:00 - 24:00
Chiesa San Giovanni Elemosinario

6) Chiesa San Giovanni Elemosinario

Founded in 1071 and then rebuilt in the 16th century by Antonio Scarpagnino after a fire that destroyed most of the Rialto market area, this small church is one of the most interesting examples of Renaissance architecture. Its altarpiece is made by Titian, depicting San Giovanni Elemosinario (or St John the Almsgiver, the 7th-century Patriarch of Alexandria), while one of the side chapels has a harmonius altarpiece by Il Pordenone, Titian's great rival, depicting an athletic and monumental San Sebastiano, (splendid in his almost nakedness), a florid and absorbed Santa Caterina with eyes to the sky, and a spontaneous San Rocco, showing a healthy leg that got healed from the bubonic plague. Meanwhile, in the left aisle, there is a fragment of a bas-relief dating from the Middle Ages, representing the Night of the Birth of Christ.
Mercato di Rialto (Rialto Food Market)

7) Mercato di Rialto (Rialto Food Market) (must see)

If you seek to experience Venice in its entirety, then head to the Rialto Market! Just as in most any other city, this food market is a pulsating center of the local community. Among other things, the Rialto market epitomizes the sincerity and joyfulness of the Venetians and their love of life, in part due to which this market is often mistaken for a sort of open-air theme park!

To characterize the Rialto Market, one has to start with its location directly overlooking the Grand Canal since as early as the 11th century. Another distinctive feature are the explicit product signs born out of the grocers' fantasy which, apart from the origin and price, always provide extensive product characteristics and sometimes even cooking tips – all presented in a very artistic style.

The entire place is as much colorful and lively as it is practical – here you can buy flowers, spices, seasonal produce, fresh meat and seafood – quite rich in terms of range and, what's most amazing, reasonably priced. While some of the fish here, like salmon, you may find recognizable, the remaining majority would be quite exotic. For example, here you can find cuttlefish used for the famous black ink pasta available only in Venice, plus a huge variety of shellfish. A mere watching all this is a feast for eyes and a grand source of photo opportunities!

As part of tourist etiquette, please keep in mind that this is a regular market, where regular people come for regular shopping – so try and be as little hindrance as possible. Also, don't forget to ask permission before you actually touch anything on sale, so as not to annoy anyone.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 7:30am-1:30pm
Mercatino dell'Antiquariato di Rialto

8) Mercatino dell'Antiquariato di Rialto

Mercatino dell'Antiquariato di Rialto takes place every second Monday and Sunday of the month, inside the Pescheria di Rialto - Rialto Fish Market, Venetian district of San Polo. Offering a vast range of antique and vintage merchandise, the market if full of anything from Murano glass, mirrors, furniture, and paintings, to dolls, vintage watches, prints and various memorabilia. The market features a large number of vendors with equally interesting offers.

Operation Hours: every second Sunday & Monday of the month, except August

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