At Rialto where once were 18 fish vendor stands there are now half of that. Two are for sale for 40 thousand Euro, including equipment.
By Vera Mantengoli
VENEZIA. The gonfalone of the Rialto Fish Market, created in 2011 to say no to moving the market to Fusina, has been stolen. Someone in the night defied the warning written in the Book of St. Mark: “Don’t touch Rialto”. It seems like a troublesome omen, that little by little nothing will remain of the Fish Market.
An announcement posted in the window of a real estate agency confirms the state of the crisis: “For Sale, two fish vendor stands at the famous Rialto Market, equipment included, 40 thousand Euro”. One for twenty thousand – ten thousand according to rumors that in order to sell them they had to practically give them away. This is an extraordinarily low price considering that 15 years ago a stand could cost from 100,000 to 150,000 Euro.
It’s alarming if you compare pictures from the 1980s, when the market was packed with Venetians, with today when there are more seagulls than people. Of the 18 stands, now only half remain. The city suffers from depopulation and the loss of historic stores, but could it stand the closure of the Fish Market?
The Rialto gonfalone’s lion of battle seemed invincible: “It was the symbol of the people, drawn by Carlo Gemmani. At a moment in which we don’t see a future, this theft was a nasty blow,” related Andrea Vio of Burano, a fish seller for 40 years. “The City could hold a competition to make a new one”.
For Vio the principal causes of the decline are the proliferation of supermarkets, big distributors, and the small amount of time people dedicate to cooking. “Politics has not helped us,” he continued, “We have high expenses such as the utilities we must pay, the cost of the spaces where we store the stand or the fish, boat expenses, the carriers”. The sadness is widespread. There are ever fewer people at the Market, and not because it’s August.
“If we don’t do something we will not be able to survive,” said Nino Zane di Burano, who has worked at Rialto for 40 years. “We are worried – we have never been in a situation like this”. Everyone complained about the new European rules on shellfish: “We can sell them at retail but we can no longer sell them to restaurants,” explain Zane and Vio, “in order to do this we would have to have the CEE sticker, but to get this one has to have an enormous storage facility”. The rule, they say, was pushed by the big distributors: “They said that here the conditions are not sufficient for shellfish, only to get us out of the way”.
In practice the big distributors on the mainland offer restaurants the complete package, from toothpick to fish, pushing aside the small fish vendors. “If we want to preserve the old trades that characterize the city,” concludes Vio, “requires knowing how to make exceptions and come meet with us. No one has ever come to ask us anything, and we are available to discuss what we need”.
Source: La Nuova Venezia, 2 August 2018