Just a few dozen metres away from Piazza del Popolo stands the modern RAVENNA COVERED MARKET, an enormous commercial space where it is possible to enjoy traditional dishes and purchase the excellent products of the territory of Romagna.
Its facade impresses and arouses the curiosity of passers-by, who immediately want to know what it hides.
The area where it is located – the current Piazza Andrea Costa – has been known as an important trading centre since antiquity. Since then, it has hosted various artisan workshops and markets, right on the place where two water courses (the Padenna and the Flumisellum rivers) crossed.
The names of the adjacent streets – as Via Ponte Marino or Vicolo Padenna – and the history of the buildings overlooking Piazza Andrea Costa – as Casa Matha, the ancient seat of a corporation of fishermen (see focus) – still testify to it.
History of the Covered Market
The origins of the Covered Market date back to the Middle Ages. It was a trading centre with fishmongers, butcher shops and draperies.
In the place of the current Piazza Costa once stood Casa Matha, an ancient corporation of fishermen created in the 10th century with the name Schola piscatorum. And it is right one of the documents of the corporation dating back to 1306 that tells about a fish market in this area.
This complex was enlarged with other buildings, until architect Ugo Vignuzzi was entrusted with the realisation of a new monumental building in 1857.
In 1894, the new fish market called Esedra Vignuzzi was inaugurated, with a semicircular facade and three openings. On top of the central arch was the emblem of Casa Matha made of Istrian stone, while on the side ones are two dolphins, symbol of luck and wealth.
The building was short-lived. Considered poorly constructed, in 1918 it was demolished and the Covered Market was built in its place
With its exposed brickwork and Istrian marbles, the new Market started to look Neoclassical and its plant was redesigned into a trapezoidal shape.
Decorated with floral stuccoes and supported by cast iron columns, the market hosted food shops that were once located in the surrounding area, in particular along Via IV Novembre.
In order to adjust it from the plant, hygienic and seismic level, in the ’80s, the Market was further renovated. The works caused the demolition of the original stalls to make place for more functioning stands for the sellers.
The new Covered Market
Gradually unused and deprived of its original function, the Covered Market underwent a new series of restoration works – begun in 2014 and ended in 2020 – which turned it back into a gathering place and trading centre, as it was in its golden years.
Today, it hosts two meat and fish restaurants, a small market, various shops – a bakery, a butcher shop, a piadina shop, as well as a cafeteria and an ice-cream shop. They are small laboratories of taste where it is possible to discover, admire, taste and purchase the best products of the territory of Romagna.
The Covered Market has also become a place for meetings and culture. Many events are organised all year round, from cooking workshops to music shows, from panel discussions to tastings of any kind.
In 2008, the Covered Market of Ravenna has been recognised by Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici dell’Emilia Romagna as a place of historical and artistic interest, and in 2023 as “Emilia-Romagna’s Historical Market”.