The Fish Columns

April 8, 2011 / Art & Archaeology
Venice, Veneto
Every time I travel to Venice I try to see the beautiful Rialto Fish Market (Campo della Pescheria), but I always arrive either too late or on the wrong day. I have never seen the fish except in the great photos by Patricia Glee Smith in her note for ItalianNotebook!

Fortunately, I discovered the fish decorations sculpted into the capitals (capitelli) of the columns (colonne) of the covered market!

A homage to the importance of fish, fishing and the result of the delicious seafood that the Venetians have always excelled at.

I did not see my sought after visuals of colored fish, but I feel the stone designs of sea life with their artistic flair and a certain amount of personality have finally made up for it.

Jean Tori

by Jean Tori

Artist- Art website: Art blog: Design company: Jean also rents holiday houses in her medieval hamlet in Umbria at

13 Responses to “The Fish Columns”

  1. Mac McLean

    I like you Jean have never seen the market when open and never looked up to see the artwork, thanks for the pictures.

  2. Oh, goody! I had never noticed those details before. So, I’ll be looking up, tomorrow. Thank you!

  3. It’s so true, we aim for certain visuals when we travel and, in the end, it’s the accidental tourist visions which open up new ideas and perspectives!

  4. Steve Smilen

    The market should be visited before it opens. Venice is eeriely beautiful when only you and someone special are up early in the morning. The fish carvings are situated on columns near the canal’s edge. Beautiful.

  5. Mairin O'Mahony

    Nest time you are in the Veneto, make the pilgrimage to Chioggia — now THAT’s a fish market! And some pretty good fish restaurants also!
    Thanks for giving me something new to look for in La Serenissima.

  6. George Corsetti

    The Venice lagoon is pretty well polluted with fertilizer runoff from nearby farms and aquatic “blooms” are common. Many area fishermen are paid not to fish. My understanding is that most of the fish in the markets come from Norway and places other than the lagoon.

  7. Thanks for the beautiful photos! I agree that it’s best to visit early in the morning–right when it opens. The fish that is local is labeled “nostrane”–and it’s often more expensive than imported fish. A great place to have lunch there with the workers is Muro (Campo Bella Vienna, closed Sun) or to go fancier, Fiaschetteria Toscana (Salizada S. Giovanni Grisostomo, Cannaregio, 041 528 5281)–a favorite of cookbook author Marcella Hazan who lived and taught in Venice for many years.



  9. I went to Chioggia many years ago and next time I want to take a traghetto (boat) directly from Venice to Chioggia. I’m told it exists but have never tried it. Thank you for the restaurant tips, will add to my collection! Another great restaurant is Al Fontego dei Pescatori. Loris Manna, the owner, served for nine years as the President of the Rialto Fish Market. I had an appetizer of 8 different Venetian specialities. Delicious! Hopefully they were ‘nostrane’ (local) and not imported from Norway! However, I also believe the recipes are fundamental, no matter where the seafood comes from!


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