Rialto is an area of the San Polo sestiere of Venice, Italy, known for its markets and for the Rialto Bridge.

The area was settled by the ninth century, when a small area in the middle of the Realtine Islands either side of the Rio Businiacus was known as the "Rivoaltus", the "high bank". Soon, the Businiacus became known as the Grand Canal, and the district became the Rialto, referring only to the area on the left bank.

The Rialto became an important district in 1097, when Venice's market moved there, and in the following century a boat bridge was set up across the Grand Canal providing access to it. This was soon replaced by the Rialto Bridge.The market grew, both as a retail and as a wholesale market. Warehouses were built, including the famous Fondaco dei Tedeschi on the other side of the bridge. Meanwhile, shops selling luxury goods, banks and insurance agencies appeared and the city's tax offices were located in the area. The city's abattoir was also in the Rialto.

Most of the buildings in the Rialto were destroyed in a fire in 1514, the sole survivor being the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto, while the rest of the area was gradually rebuilt. The Fabriche Vecchie dates from this period, while the Fabbriche Nuove is only slightly more recent, dating from 1553. The statue Il Gobbo di Rialto was also sculpted in the sixteenth century.

The area is still a busy retail quarter, with the daily Erberia greengrocery market, and the fish market on the Campo della Pescheria.

The Rialto is also mentioned in works of literature, notably in "The Merchant of Venice" (Act I, Scene III).

Dionne Warwick performed here her first Live TV Concert in 1983 for America.

External links

* [http://maps.google.com/maps?q=venice,+italy&ll=45.438544,12.334814&spn=0.003004,0.010274&t=k&hl=en Satellite image from Google Maps] (on the left bank of the Grand Canal, adjoining the bridge)

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