The toponymy of Venice
The toponymy (place names) of Venice is fascinating and revealing long-standing stories; as you know, here there are no vie (streets) except for Via Garibaldi and Via XXII Marzo where the hotel Saturnia & International, is located, also owned by the Serandrei family - and squares, but calli, campi, campielli, fondamenta, rive, rii, rami, ponti, sotoporteghi and sestieri. Their name is often linked to the daily life of the past, to commercial activities developed in the area, to popular customs or historical events.
Another peculiarity of Venice is that you will not find because the directions are painted directly on the buildings, the so-called nizioleti (literally sheets): a white box where the texts are written in black, which is reminiscent of the sheet from which it takes its name.
In recent times, in some strategic places, signs on a yellow background with arrows have been added to show the way to the most popular tourist attractions.
The toponymy of Venice: some examples
We have collected some of the funniest nomenclature and for each you will find the origin of the name.
You can consult the map in the gallery below to place them geographically.
1. CALLE DEL CAFETIER
It takes its name from a coffee shop frequented in the last years of the Republic by various noblemen.
2. CALLE DEL FRUTARIOL
Its name derives from the shop of a Frutariol (fruit seller) that was located in this calle in 1740.
3. CORTE DE LE ANCORE
The name comes from a blacksmith who had his workshop here and was mainly involved in the construction of anchors for Venetian boats.
4. CALLE DE L’ANGELO
This street takes its name from the tavern with the Angel sign that was once located here.
5. CALLE DE LE BALANZE
So called because the scales were manufactured here.
6. RIVA DEL CARBON
Shore used for the sale of coal. There were 25 charcoal burners as the Republic had sold them the right to bring coal.
7. CALLE DELLA VIGNA
The name derives from a vineyard that grew in the district of San Pietro di Castello, once belonging to the patriarchy.
8. CALLE DE LA NAVE
The name derives from a casseller (box maker) workshop with the sign of the ship.
9. CALLE DE LE CARROZZE
Although there were no carriages in Venice, they were made for the mainland. There is an engraving by Michele Marieschi with a carriage under construction in Campo dei Frari.
10. RAMO DEL FIGO
Some streets in Venice got their name from nearby trees or plants.
11. CALLE DE L’OCA
The street takes its name from a shop of a Frutariol (fruit seller) with the same sign.
12. CORTE CANDELE
It seems that in this courtyard, subject to the parish of the SS Apostoli, there was a candle factory.
13. RAMO FIORI
Its name comes from a flower shop. The Florists association, established in 1715, had 17 shops. In the Venetian Republic there was great use of fresh flowers, especially during weddings.
14. CALLE PAGLIA
It acquired its name not from the straw that was used for the mussette, the donkeys ridden by nobles, but from the boats loaded with straw that used to station in the calle.
15. FONDAMENTA DE LE TETTE
The harlots’ houses seemed to reach this fondamenta at that time. These ladies used to stand on the balcony with their tete (breasts) uncovered to gladden passers-by.
16. CAMPO DE LA LANA
The campo housed the homes of various wool workers and the hospice for German woolen cloth weavers. Considered a key activity, the Republic worked for the development of the art of wool in Venice and some factories reached, in fact, a moderate success in the sixteenth century.
17. CAMPIELLO DEI MELONI
Sellers of melons would have given the name to this place.
18. CAMPIELLO DEL LIBRER
In this location there was a bookseller and stationer shop in 1761.
19. CALLE DEL CAMPANILE
Its name comes from the bell tower of the church of Santa Maria Zobenigo, which was demolished in 1773 by decree of the Senate as it was unsafe.
20. CAMPIELLO MOSCA
In this small square the so-called mosche (moles) were made. They were pieces of black rubberized taffeta which the ladies used to place on the face to enhance their complexion.
21. PONTE DE L’UMILTÀ
The church and monastery of Santa Maria dell’Umiltà once belonged to the Teutonic knights .
22. SOTOPORTEGO DEL CASIN
From the so-called casin dei nobili. The Casini were small houses where it was customary to spend the night hours with gambling or other entertainment.
23. PONTE DEL FORMAGER
So named because there was a cheese seller at the beginning of the street.
24. CALLE DEL PESCE
There were thousands of fishermen towards the end of the Venetian Republic. The street owes its name to a fish market that existed in this place
The Venetian toponymy was chosen as the theme for the 2022 calendar created by Studio Tapiro for the Serandrei family, a tradition that has been renewed year after year since 1981. You can download the web version by clicking here.