THE MARKETS OF ITALY
Of all the spectacular food markets in Italy the one on the Rialto in Venice must be the most remarkable. The light of a Venetian dawn in early summer – you must be about at four o’clock in the morning to see the market coming to life – is so limpid and so still that it makes every separate vegetable and fruit and fish luminous with a life of its own, with unnaturally heightened colours, and clean, stencilled outlines. Here the cabbages are cobalt blue, the beetroots deep rose, the lettuces clear, pure green, sharp as glass. Bunches of gaudy gold marrow flowers are there simply to show off the elegance of pink-and-white marbled bean pods, primrose potatoes, green plums, green peas. The colours of the peaches, cherries and apricots, packed in boxes lined with sugar-bag blue paper matching the blue canvas trousers worn by the men unloading the gondolas, are reflected in the rose-red mullet and the orange vongole and cannestrelle, which have been prised out of their shells and heaped up into baskets.
…In Venice even the ordinary sole and the ill-favoured skate are striped with delicate lilac lights, the sardines shine like newly minted silver coins, pink Venetian scampi are fat and fresh, infinitely enticing in the early dawn.
The gentle swaying of the laden gondolas, the movements of the market men as they unload, swinging the boxes and baskets ashore, the robust life and rattling noise contrasted with the fragile taffeta colours and opaline sky of Venice, the whole scene is out of some marvellous unheard-of ballet.
Vintage Vuitton hotel luggage labels from the collection of Gaston-Louis Vuitton