Time and energy permitting, go and visit one of the local markets. The daily food market ‘par excellence’ is certainly that at the Rialto, but you have to be up and about pretty early to see the best of that one, but for a good selection of things other than food, it is worth going over to the Venice Lido on Tuesday mornings.
Get off at the Santa Maria Elisabetta boat stop and either walk along to your right following the lagoon side for 10 minutes until you cross a bridge and see the market over to your right, or else get one of the buses which go in that direction from the bus stops you will see as you get off the boat . You can buy tickets for the bus at the large ticket office on the waterfront at Santa Maria Elisabetta, Lido. Don’t forget to buy a return if you think you will be wanting to come back by bus, and remember to convalidate your ticket just inside the bus entrance.
The setting for the Lido market is very attractive, all along the lagoon side, and the market itself is a fascinating confusion of sounds, smells and sights. Here you will find bargains galore, including ‘out of season’ designer label goods. Great fun, and feel free to haggle for a better price if you have the courage. It is quite a common practice and often works, particularly if you are buying several things from the same vendor. There are usually two or three gastronomy stands with a good selection of cooked meats, various types of lasagne and some cooked vegetables which are the ideal solution for those staying in apartments who want to save on meals out, but don’t want to find themselves slaving over a hot stove!
The market starts up fairly early and most vendors will have their wares displayed by about 8 a.m., They will then close up around lunch time all rushing to go up the other end of the island to get the ferry boat back to the Tronchetto from where they will cross the causeway heading for the mainland.
Another large market is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays (mornings only) at Marghera, just outside Venice on the mainland. You can reach it by taking the number 6/ bus from Piazzale Roma. Once the bus gets to the other end of the causeway, you will get off after about 2 stops, and will already be able to see a great milling of people just a few yards from the bus stop, all elbowing their way in hunting for the best bargains on offer. Lastly, there is a small market at Sacca Fisola on Friday mornings, yet again with a bit of everything, from fruit and veg, to shoes and household.
Interesting to note that every Thursday morning outside the Women’s Prison on Fondamenta delle Convertite, Giudecca, there is a stall selling fresh fruit and vegetable produce which is all cultivated and harvested by the women prisoners themselves in the gardens behind the prisons, using environmentally friendly methods. They also prepare paper handcrafts and simple cosmetics using natural methods, and you can occasionally find some of these on sale also. Check out their website for further details.
Look out also for the picturesque barge which sells fresh fruit and vegetables just around the corner from Campo San Barnaba at the foot of Ponte dei Pugni