Bitter Regrets at Rialto: Mascari – “The colors, aromas and tradition have disappeared”

Owner of the historic Drogheria Mascari looks at the current situation with dismay: “Without residents there is no future”

16 April 2022

By T. Borz

VENICE “The sounds, aromas, colors and the liveliness of a market that has been part of the history of Venice for a thousand year are gone”. Iginio “Gino” Mascari proudly continues to run the business started by his parents 75 years ago, which defines itself as the historic “thermometer” of life at Rialto. In commenting about that which was and today is gone he asks: “I am just saying that at one time there were sixteen contracts, today only six. At the Erberia it was 54, now 7. Is this ok? Without residents there is little to be done, and here in Venice everything has been done to move services to the mainland and make the fabric of the city disappear. You stay if you have a job, but if I have a job in Padua, who can make me do it?”


The primacy of the tourist has swept away everything: “Today they come, take pictures of the bananas and then happily go back to their beautiful homes”. The world has changed, and adjustments have become necessary. However, one hears a bit of resentment in Mascari’s words: “All of the stores facing San Giacometo sold fruit, cheeses, meats and much else of use for the residents. There was a strong link with tradition. Now other paths have been chosen and the result is what we see”.

The scarcity at the market can be attributed to the scarcity of services for the citizen: “Everything is related to the population. Today you either supply a hotel, or they get supplies from outside via e-commerce. Tradition is not respected, positive structures aren’t being created, and so the market is dying. In the Bancogiro and Naranzaria areas it will be all “Venice by night”, the numbers say so”.

On this theme, Mascari recalls: “Where there is a telephone company once was the Pellizzaria haberdashery. At least the last toy store in the city is resisting”.

Nearby is the shop belonging to the Mascari himself, where the desire to provide service to the residents mingles with the aromas of chocolate and spices, passing by the wine cellar. “I’m able to resist thanks to people who come back here specially”.

The traditional flavors are missing today: “The ‘bivarol’ is gone. They have all disappeared, save the one that’s hanging on in Castello, that is Ortis. He is an example of what Rialto was; that is fish, fruit, vegetables, the bags put out, the baccalà attached”. And today, instead: “In front of where the Cassa di Risparmio was – this is also gone, emblematic of how few market accounts there are – there was a biavarol that sold beans scooped out of a burlap sack, with the provola on the outside. They were products for consumption”.


He doesn’t miss the chance for a bittersweet joke: “In the 1970s there were 160,000 residents, now we are 50,000, of which 90 percent are older. At my age ‘you eat little’ because you have problems; the closets are full of clothes; ‘but where do we want to go?’”. He also gives a nod to politics: “the effort by Councilor Sebastiano Costalonga to try to strengthen the area by taking away the rusted stalls and garbage is admirable. However, something more is required. That the Loggia is being snubbed this way is shame: we put together a redevelopment project and there was even private money, but nobody ever bothered to take it into consideration. All of the historic markets are in trouble. In my ignorance I thought that globalization was a good thing, that would bring a bit of well-being everywhere. Instead, we have only done one thing, and that is globalized ignorance”.

Source: Il Gazzettino Venezia Mestre

One thought on “Bitter Regrets at Rialto: Mascari – “The colors, aromas and tradition have disappeared”

  1. C’est la realitê…..Venise perd son âme,le marché du Rialto a complement changé sauf quelques uns qui restent pour notre bonheur….Comment preserver l’âme venitien….


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