Rialto Market: public assembly Friday on the future of Pescheria and Tribunale – a project for renewal or more speculation in the heart of Venice?

On Friday there will be a public assembly under the Loggia delle Pescherie, called by the Municipality of Venice in concert with Progetto Rialto and the market operators, who are asking for a redevelopment project. The Tribunale building will also soon be empty, raising the specter of tourism speculation placing another public landmark in the heart of Venice in private hands.

By Enrico Tantucci

16 November 2021

VENEZIA. Venice is alive, and Rialto wants to live. This is the theme of the public assembly, open to citizens, that will be held under the Loggia delle Pescherie at Rialto on Friday, November 19 at 17:30. The assembly has been called by the Municipality of Venice in response to the requests for help coming from associations concerned with the Rialto area.

First among these is the Progetto Rialto Association, which was formed in collaboration with the Rialto market operators to call for a change of direction from the Administration for an area that is a symbol of the city, specifically the fish and fruit/vegetable markets at Rialto – which are suffering today – promoting an initiative that would bring together cuisine, crafts and culture in an effort to revive the whole area.

The heart of the project could be the Palazzetto delle Pescherie di Rialto, a building that was granted by the City as a patrimonial asset to the Fondazione Musei Civic. For years it has sat empty and abandoned, without even a vague idea for its reuse.

But the City is not enthusiastic. Several council commission meetings held to illustrate the project have not produced – beyond vague commitments and bids announced but never realized – any result. The “pastoral” visit of the councilor for Commerce in recent years has left everything as it is.

The Progetto Rialto Association has also produced a publication at its own expense, which it has distributed for free, entitled “Venezia è viva e chiede aiuto” (Venice is alive and needs help). The small book illustrates the characteristics and history, but also the potential of the Rialto Market, which today has become mainly a tourist destination for taking pictures.

We read in the publication: “We believe that it is possible, all the more so after the recent epidemic has led to the rediscovery of “neighborhood” stores, which are particularly appreciated in Italian and European historic centers, to rethink the role of the Market today by repurposing some of its functions”.

“We must reinvent the use of the spaces with the coexistence of crafts and cultural exchange activities that trigger motives of mutual interest. This is already happening in the medieval Market in Barcelona, in the Borough Market of London, in the Mercato di Mezzo in Bologna, at San Lorenzo in Firenze or in Porta Palazzo in Torino. In Venice people buying lagoon fish or herbs at the Market may be also be attracted by the offering of exotic products or by the production of new glass or paper products taking place at the same location, or by a temporary exhibition or book presentation”.

“There are public buildings in this area that are empty or about to be emptied: these can become an attraction for laboratories, ateliers, innovative projects by students, researchers, artists from Venetian and foreign high schools. But they can also become the home of artisan shops, “display cases” for international institutions and also for products produced elsewhere in the lagoon, or as small classrooms for training courses (cooking, glass art, Venetian terrazzo, stucco and grassello, and the restoration of ancient materials).”

As can easily be seen, there are plenty of ideas here, while on the other hand it is well established that the Brugnaro administration does not have any project for reviving the Rialto market area – because otherwise, after years of discussing it, they clearly would have brought it out by now. The occasion of the public assembly on Friday is also the opportunity for the administration to come and listen and take note, starting with the councilor of Commerce Sebatiano Costalonga. Perhaps they can begin answering some questions. For example, the question of the Tribunale di Rialto, which with the transfer of all the judiciary offices to the Cittadella della giustizia at Piazzale Roma – will be completely empty in a few years.

What will become of this enormous complex in one of the crucial points of the city? Will it be silently handed over to tourism speculation, or is there an idea for recovering it, maybe in the direction indicated by the associations? Now would be the time to give some kind of answer.


Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre

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