Venice, unique and distinctive in its charms and way of life also has its own unique and special names for many of the features you’ll come across while ambling through the city. Browse our glossary containing a mixture of Venetian and Italian terms which will help you to get your bearings during your holiday.
You may also find that the spellings of place names and locations
may vary from map to book and even from street to street depending on
use of dialect etc. For example, ‘Campo Sant’ Angelo’ (Italian) may be written as ‘Campo Sant’ Anzolo’ (Venetian dialect) and ‘Ghetto Nuovo’ may be signposted as ‘Gheto Novo’ etc.
- Sestiere/Sestieri – The name given to the districts of Venice, of which there are 6, namely
- – San Marco
- – San Polo
- – Santa Croce
- – Dorsoduro (which includes the island of Giudecca)
- – Castello
- – Cannaregio
A note on Venetian Addresses – these are usually written as sestiere and the house/apartment number within that sestiere. Street names are often not given eg. The address of the Views on Venice office in Venice is:
Each sestiere has its own house/apartment numbers within it, running in sequence.
Also, at certain points around the city, you will see yellow painted signs on the streets giving arrowed directions to various areas of the city eg. ‘Per Rialto’, ‘Per Accademia’, ‘Per San Marco’ and ‘Per Piazzale Roma’ etc.
Don’t be alarmed, however, if you see these yellow signs pointing in 2 opposite directions to the same place, as there is often more than one way of getting there! Such is the maze that is Venice!
- Parrocchia – parish
- Borgoloco – a village-like district, eg. Borgoloco San Lorenzo.
- Calle – street or alleyway
- Calletta – a smaller, narrower street or alleyway
- Calle Lunga/Longa – a long street
- Calle Stretta – a narrow street
- Sottoportego – a covered passageway between two buildings
- Salizzada – an important street which in ‘olden days’ used to be paved, unlike the calles which were simply compacted earth. The term is still used to this day, even though all streets are now paved.
- Masegni – Venetian paving stones
- Lista – a street or area where there used to be an embassy in times gone by eg. Lista Dei Bari in Santa Croce and Lista Di Spagna in Cannaregio
- Strada – Street (the only street known as ‘strada’ in Venice being the long shop-lined Strada Nova in Cannaregio).
- Via – another name for a street, although very few streets in Venice are called ‘via’ (Via Garibaldi in the Castello district is one example). Most streets are called ‘calle’.
- Rio Tera – a canal which has been filled in to make a street. If you look closely at the ground when walking down a Rio Tera, you can often make out the original sides of the canal because of the different type of stone which may have been used to pave it over.
- Ruga – a street with a number of shops
- Ramo – a small street leading off a larger calle
- Piazza – ‘The’ Square (the only Piazza in Venice being Piazza San Marco)
- Piazzetta – a smaller square (there are only 2 of these in Venice). One Piazzeta is situated by the Palazzo Ducale and is known as Piazzetta San Marco and the other is called Piazzetta Leoni and is found to the side of St. Mark’s Basilica). The other squares are known as ‘Campos’ or ‘Campi’ in Italian…
- Campo – a square
- Campiello – a square
- Corte – a courtyard
- Cortile – a large courtyard
- Nizioleti – this is the name given to the black and white place names which you can see painted on the sides of the streets, squares and courtyards etc.
- Pozzo – a well found in a campo or corte
- Vera da Pozzo – a stone well-head, often very ornate
- San/Santa – Saint (eg. San Polo, Santa Margherita)
- Chiesa – a church
- Abbazia – an abbey
- Campanile – the bell tower of a church
- Laguna – Lagoon
- Canale – a large canal eg. Canale Grande, Canale Cannaregio, Canale della Giudecca. The smaller canals are known as…
- Rio/Rii – canal/canals, some of which are signposted…
- ‘Senso Unico’ – meaning that they are ‘One Way’ to boating traffic
- Riello – a small canal
- Traghetto – the Gondola ferry (a number of these can be found at certain points along the Grand Canal (see below) and are usually indicated on a good map) in which two gondoliers row passengers from one side to the other. It’s traditional to stand up while you make the crossing but you are allowed to sit down instead, if you so wish! (it’s customary to pay the Gondolier 2,00 euros – 0,80 if you have the Imob card – per person per crossing as you board, preferably with the correct change).
The traghetto services can be found at the following points/districts along the Grand Canal, but please bear in mind that the hours/days of operation of each vary so it would be wise to check before planning a journey –
Looking at the map of Venice and the Grand Canal from the top of the map to the bottom…
Rialto Fish Market (San Polo) – Campo Santa Sofia (Cannaregio) –
From October 1st to March 31st from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm;
From April 1st to September 30 from 7.30 am to 7.00 pm.
San Toma (San Polo) – Calle Del Tragheto near Sant’ Angelo (San Marco) –
From October 1st to March 31st from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm;
From April 1st to September 30 from 7.30 am to 7.00 pm.
Calle Del Tragheto San Gregorio/Calle Lanza (Dorsoduro) – Campo Del Traghetto near Santa Maria Del Giglio (San Marco) –
From October 1st to March 31st from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm;
From April 1st to September 30 from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.
- Vaporetto/vaporetti – water bus/es
- Motoscafo/motoscafi – water taxi/s
- Ponte – bridge. There are over 400 bridges in Venice with just 4 spanning the Grand Canal, namely –
- Ponte Dei Scalzi
- Ponte Di Rialto
- Ponte Dell’Accademia
…and the new glass bridge, designed by Santiago Calatrava and named
- ‘Ponte Della Costituzione’, which opened in 2008 and links the railway station (Ferrovia/ Stazione Santa Lucia) with Piazzale Roma.
- Fondamenta – a street running alongside a canal eg. Fondamente Nove in Cannaregio, from where you can catch the vaporetto to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. Or the Fondamenta San Basegio, location of Ca’ San Sebastiano.
- Riva – a street running alongside a quay where boats are moored. eg. Riva Degli Schiavoni near St Mark’s Square
- Molo – the quay in front of the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) and the Piazzeta San Marco
- Bacino (San Marco) – St Mark’s Basin. The stretch of water between St. Mark’s Square and the Lido, the island of Giudecca and the Grand Canal.
- Piscina – a lake or pond that has been filled in to make a street eg. Piscina San Samuele, very near apartment Ca’ Grassi 1.
- Giardino/Giardini – garden/s. For details of our range of apartments with gardens/courtyards/terraces, or a combination of these.
- Isola – an island. For details of our apartments on the island of Giudecca, click here: Ca’ Redentore 4, and Capannone Del Redentore .
- Spiaggia – a beach
- Casa (sometimes shortened to Ca’) – a house/apartment, and the name given to all properties in the ‘Views on Venice’ portfolio
- Palazzo – a palace
- Palazzetto – a small palace
- Piano Nobile – The ‘noble’, and usually the most important floor of a palazzo (‘Piano’ = ‘floor’ in Italian).
Often decorated in grand and impressive fashion to showcase the wealth and power exerted by its original owners eg. Ca’ Cerchieri Piano Nobile
- Mezzanine – a floor in a building inserted above another floor eg. apartment Ca’ Cerchieri Mezzanine
- Mansardine – the attic floor of a building, sometimes featuring sloping ceilings and beams
- Altana – a wooden terrace built high up on the top of a building where ladies in days gone by would sit and bleach their hair in the sunshine. eg. apartment Ca’ Del Gabbiano, Ca’ Redentore 4 and Ca’ Del Mercante
- Venetian Terrazzo Flooring – an ancient flooring technique in which marble chips are set in a thick base and then highly polished. The marble is sometimes laid to form patterns
- Rialzato – a ground floor which has been raised in an attempt to avoid the effects of…
- Acqua Alta – the exceptionally ‘high water’ flooding which occasionally occurs in Venice, usually in the Autumn/Winter seasons
- Passerelle – the raised wooden walkways put out by the city in the event of Acqua Alta in order to help residents and visitors make their way around the main streets of Venice
- Ferrovia/Stazione – a station
- Aeroporto – an airport (Volo – flight)
- Bottega – a shop or workshop
- Mercato – a market
- Supermercato – a supermarket (for details of supermarkets in Venice)
- Tabacchi – a tobacconist shop which may also sell postage stamps, phone cards etc.
- Pescheria – fish market
- Erbaria – vegetable market
- Gelateria – an ice-cream shop
- Farmacia – a pharmacy
- Enoteca – a wine shop which may also serve food
- Bacaro – a bar/tavern
- Osteria/Taverna – a bar/tavern serving simple food
- Spritz – the popular Venetian orange coloured ‘aperitivo’ made with white wine or prosecco, soda water and either ‘Aperol’/’Campari’/’Select’ /’Cynar’, topped off with an olive, piece of lemon or orange
- Ombra – a small glass of red or white wine drunk at the bar, named as such after the practice followed by wine merchants in olden days who used to maintain their wine at a suitable temperature by keeping it within the moving shadow (‘ombra’) of the Campanile (Bell Tower) in St. Mark’s Square
- Sgropin/sgroppino – A white, creamy, frothy looking digestive made with lemon ice cream, vodka and prosecco, served at the end of a meal
- Cicheti – traditional Venetian bar snacks (usually seen on the bar counter) and rather like tapas and which can include, among many other things, such tasty items as carciofi (artichoke hearts), polpette (meatballs/rissoles) and crostini with various toppings (including the very typical Venetian ‘baccala mantecato’ – creamed salt cod). A plate of these eaten standing at the bar and washed down with an ‘ombra’ or two (see above) can make for a delicious and inexpensive alternative to a sit-down lunch
- Tramezzini – plump little sandwiches made with soft white bread and a variety of yummy fillings
- Museo – A museum
- Scuola – a guild eg. Scuola dei Merletti – the Guild of Lacemakers on the island of Burano, or the Scuola Grande dei Carmini with its important Tiepolo paintings, very close to apartments Ca’ Elvira and Ca’ Carmini in Dorsoduro
- Teatro – theatre e.g. Teatro La Fenice and Teatro Malibran.
- Squero – a boatyard where gondolas are made and repaired eg. Tramontin Gondole (just around the corner from Ca’ San Sebastiano) and the Squero San Trovaso (overlooked by Ca’ del Rio, Ca’ Dello Squero and Ca’ Dello Squero 2 apartments)
- Fontego/Fondaco – an ancient warehouse used to provide lodgings for foreign merchants from overseas. eg. the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi on the Grand Canal at Rialto, historically used from the 13th Century by German merchants and found just around the corner from the apartment Ca’ Giulia, and the Fondaco Dei Turchi (now Venice’s Natural History Museum) also on the Grand Canal and close to our apartments in the district of Santa Croce.
- Ospedale – hospital
- Vigili di Fuoco – Fire Brigade
- Carabinieri – Police