Venetians feeding. 25 March 1508, Museo Correr Venezia

The Doge Sebastiano Ziani

Edible exempt, Museo Correr Venezia

Delivery of delicious breads and cakes, Museo Correr Venezia

The mullet

The sea bream

The freshwater eel

A venetian 'cocca'

Venetian creamed salt cod

A typical dish: the liver in venetian way

Announcer of spring. Archivio di Stato of Venice

Grooms of Bacchus, Archivio di Stato of Venice

Conversation at the inn, Archivio di Stato of Venice

Sardines in 'saor'
ita | fra | eng | esp
contact us | copyright

Related topics

Video Gallery

No video

Photo Gallery

immagine didascalia

Venetians feeding. 25 March 1508, Museo Correr Venezia


immagine didascalia

The Doge Sebastiano Ziani


immagine didascalia

Edible exempt, Museo Correr Venezia


immagine didascalia

Delivery of delicious breads and cakes, Museo Correr Venezia


immagine didascalia

The mullet


immagine didascalia

The sea bream


immagine didascalia

The freshwater eel


immagine didascalia

A venetian 'cocca'


immagine didascalia

Venetian creamed salt cod


immagine didascalia

A typical dish: the liver in venetian way


immagine didascalia

Announcer of spring. Archivio di Stato of Venice


immagine didascalia

Grooms of Bacchus, Archivio di Stato of Venice


immagine didascalia

Conversation at the inn, Archivio di Stato of Venice


immagine didascalia

Sardines in 'saor'


The old markets and cuisine of Venice

Food and cuisine in Venice during the Republic were based on the resources available in the lagoon .

Wholesale and retail trade of commodities was controlled by the State through special courts: duties, quality control, fair trading and supply levels.
In 1173 a “food-rationing law” was issued by the Doge Sebastian Ziani concerning wine, cereals , meat, fish, poultry, fruit and oil.
There were countless Corporations responsible for the resale of various commodities.

Various types of fresh fish were sold at the Rialto market by the inhabitants of the islands of Chioggia and Poveglia and the village of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli: mullet , bass, pike , sole, eel (the smaller eels were called bisati), barbel, turbot and plaice caught offshore, plus freshwater trout, pike, tench and the much appreciated sturgeon, often the protagonist of the banquets held by the Doges at the Doge’s Palace , along with raw oysters, lobster, spider crab, shrimps, scallops and caviar.
And of course there was bacalà (dried salted cod), first described in 1432 by Pietro Querini, an aristocrat whose galea  was shipwrecked off the coast of the Lofoten islands.
In Venice this became bacalà mantecato (creamed cod), often accompanied by a warm and creamy polenta made from maize, imported from the distant Americas.

Equally rich and varied was the assortment of meat available on the stalls of the becheri (butchers) and luganegheri (sausage makers): prime cuts of beef and pork, tasty luganega (a type of sausage, simple or muschiata), ham, mortadella and offal (menuzzami). This included tripe, doppion (large intestine), liver , lung, heart and tongue, brains, spienza (milt) and feet and heads, sold raw or cooked. Game was especially appreciated by the Venetians (caught inland or on the lagoon). This was sold by the Galineri guild: coots, quails, pheasants, geese, pigeons, partridges and màzori (wild duck).

Peasants would bring vegetables and fruit from market gardens on the islands . Green-leafed vegetables, turnips, beans, spinach, cabbage, peas (the bisi in the famous rice dish called risi e bisi served on the Doge’s table), beans, asparagus, artichokes (articiochi and the much prized castraure from the Island of Sant’Erasmo). Cherries, figs, apples, pears, medlars, watermelons and melons.
A curious fact: ever since the Fifteenth Century melons were presented as a gift for the Doge each August by the Fruttaroli guild as a sign of gratitude, to which the Doge reciprocated with many edible gifts.

The Ternieri guild in the Twelfth Century and then that of the Casaroli sold cheese and dairy products. Ceiling prices and quality control applied here too, resulting in specific types, often coming from the mainland - piasentin, bressan, veronese, visentin, moriotto, morlaco - but also de Puglia, candiotto (from the island of Candia, which belonged to Venice from 1204 to 1669), cheese de Cipro (Cyprus), d’Olanda (Holland), d’Inghhilterra (England) and even fresh cheeses known as formagelle marzoline.

Desserts and confectionery were the prerogative of the Scaleteri, skilled producers of marzipan, bussolai (doughnuts) and various types of biscuit including storti, cialdoni, pignoccate, occhietti and the still delicious zaleti (maize flour seasoned with butter, raisins, almonds and pine nuts). Then there were the famous fave dolci (sweet broad-beans) made from almond flour and distributed on November 2nd (the day the Venetians remembered their dead), recalling the way the "frari" would hand out boiled broad-beans to the poor.
Fruit in syrup and candied fruit (el caramel) would be served with liquors, syrups, cedar water and, in the 18th Century, with coffee and chocolate.

The Venetians were also major consumers of wine , preferring bright red wines to white.
The wine merchants of the time were split into Malvasie, Bastioni or Magazeni, Samarchi and Samarcheti (so called due to the lion of Saint Mark on their shop-sign), plus càneve (wine cellars or deposits) and the nineteenth-century "osterie.

Menus and inventories mention Malvasia (sweet and garba, i.e. dry) Muscat, Marzemino, Malaga, Aleatico, Garganego from Verona, Vin Santo, wine from Cyprus, Puglia and Izmir, not to mention the valuable picolit friulano and many others.

It is true that Venice - and its cuisine - was, and is, greatly influenced by the Levant. This can be seen in a delicate balance between sweet and sour, using oil and vinegar, spices and dried fruit, one of which is the delicious saor: proof of the "flavour of the Orient" in the lagoon area.

Michela  Dal  Borgo


1100 - 1200  -   - rev. 0.1.12

[-A] [+A]

Venice and its lagoons

World Heritage, a dialogue between cultures: which future?

credits | help