Curiosities about Venice

The Lion in St Mark's Square

The Lion statue in St. Mark's square was the official symbol of the Serenissima, and remains the symbol of the city to this day. It probably has oriental origins. On its legs there is a book with a Latin sentence: "Pax tibi Marce, Evangelista Meus", which means "Peace to you, oh Marco, my Evangelist".

The names of the streets

The names of Venetian streets are a distinctive characteristic of the city. They do not have standard names of streets, such as via in Italian, street/road/avenue in English/American, Strasse in German or rue in French. They follow their own rules.

The terms preceding the name of the street are principally:

  • RIO: street
  • CALLE: street
  • FONDAMENTA: street overlooking a channel
  • RIVA: street overlooking the Grand Canal
  • CAMPIELLO: small square
  • CAMPO: square

The names have very ancient origins, usually related to professional arts, commercial activities or the origin of the inhabitants. The term Mercerie was originally used to indicate an area where clothes were traded. Names like CALLE dei PRETI, CALLE delle MUNUGHE, RIVA dei RAGUSI refer respectively to the priests, the nuns, and the inhabitants coming from Rovigo who lived in these streets. Names like CALLE dell'ABBAZIA and CALLE del TEATRO, are names taken from the main building in the area where they are located.

The origin of the word "Ciao"

The source of Italian word "Ciao" (Hi or Hello in English) is Venetian. In fact the word derives from the expression "Sciavo vostro" ("your slave"), which Venetians used to say to each other as a greeting.

The Tiramisù



Photo credits

It's one of the most popular desserts served in many Italian restaurants. It means "pick–me–up" ( or "make me happy" if translated provocatively). There are a few different versions about its origins:

  • some people say the history of "tiramisù" dates back to the Renaissance, when Venetian women gave the desserts to their men because they believed it improved love-making;
  • others believe that Venetian courtesans used "tiramisù" to pick–themselves–up during the night.

The first woman to graduate

Not many people know that the first woman to graduate was from Venice. Her name was Elena Cornaro, and she was the daughter of a wealthy noble man.

She studied several humanities subjects such as History, Theology and Philosophy. She also obtained a Philosophy degree  from the University of Padua.

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