Do you think you know everything about Venice ?

Here are 10 funny facts you need to know to say that you really know everything about Venice.

1. The wandering spirits of Venice

Venice is the island of love, lovers and of the wandering spirits as well. They seem to have trouble leaving this romantic city as live visitors do.

The spirit of the late painter Lorenzo Luzzo who committed suicide in the 16th century over a miserable love affair gone wrong is said to linger in the antique palace Casino de’ Spiriti on the Canal Grande, in the heart of Venice.

What about Poveglia island in the Venetian Bay? The spirits of the deceased patients of the local mental ihospital still wander in the midst surrounding Poveglia every night.

Ca’ Dario, a magnificent palace standing on the docks of the Canal Grande, is a place where the spirits brought bad luck to its owners who suffered severe illness, economic failures and even tragic deaths. Who owns now the palace? Rumors says it belongs to an American company but we do not know anything about the company’s associates and their fortunes so far.

2. Secret gardens

How many gardens are there in Venice? Approximately 500. Yes, it is a huge number and even the locals do not know all of them.

Some gardens are open to public at opening hours. Some are private and it is almost a “mission impossible” to get access to them.

One of the most beautiful public garden is the “Royal Gardens of Saint Mark” in Saint Mark, Fondamenta Giardini ex Reali built on the order of Napoleon.

3. Calle, campi and salizada: the topography of Venice

If you ask for a piazza (square) in Venice, you’ll probably get dumb expressions from the locals.
Venice has but one square, Piazza San Marco.
The areas we call “squares” have a different name in Venetian: campi. A “campo” is literary a field.
When the square is not that big, the “campo” becomes a “campiello”.
Some more helpful terms:

  • square= campo
  • alley/street= calle
  • salizada= a paved street (just a few streets were paved in the past)
  • ramo= a lane off the main street

A curiosity: the narrowest street in Venice is “calle Varisco”.
It is just 53 cm wide.

4. Bridges

How many bridges are there in Venice?
There are approximately 417 bridges.

Rialto bridge and Ponte dei Sospiri are the most worldwide famous bridges.
Rialto crosses the Canal Grande.

Ponte dei Sospiri (the Sighs’bridge) connects the Palazzo Ducale with the local prisons. The name of the bridge comes not from the sighs of the romantic couples as some think but from the sighs of the prisoners led to the palace’s jails.

There are less famous bridges whose names are funny and worth mentioning:
Ponte delle tette (Tits’ bridge): the name comes from the proximity to the “red light” district area
Ponte dei Pugni (Fists’ bridge): the name derives from the epic fists’ fights of two families, Castellotti and Nicolotti, which were said to take place there.

5. Venice and the islands

Venice is a city but it is not an ordinary city: Venice is actually a conglomeration of 124 small islands connected through bridges. In the past, there were fewer bridges and gondolas were the most popular transports to move around.

6. Venezia and its inlets

The sea tides come and go twice a day though 3 inlets called “bocche”in Venice.
Each day the water comes in (high tide) and the water gets out (low tide) through the “bocche”.
This mechanism happens 730 times a year and it allows the survival of this magical city.

7. Cichetti and ombre, what to eat and drink in Venezia

You do not go for a cocktail and for some foodfingers when in Venice.
You go for “cichetti“ and “ombra de vin”.

Cichetti are small portions of food ranging from tuna tarts to small slices of polenta (boiled solidified cornmeal) with saucy fish on it.

Fish cichetti (tuna balls called “polpette”, creamy white smocked mackerel on slices of bread etc) are the most popular ones but you’ll find delicious meatballs and vegetable balls as well.

An “ombra de vin” is the local way when asking for a small glass of wine.

8. Venice and the dinosaur

A dinosaur lives in Venice. Well, the term “live” may be an exaggeration
Yet, the entire skeleton of a dinosaur is on exhibit at the “Museo Storia Naturale” in Venice.

The skeleton discovered in the desert of Niger is a 7 meter Ouranosaurus Nigeriensis, an herbivorous dinosaur living in Africa more than 112 millions of years ago. It is now the “pet” of every kid visiting the museum.

9. Venice and the mummy

How far is Venice from the ancient Egypt? Thousands of miles you would say. Yet an antique Egyptian mummy lies in a transparent case in Venice.

The mummy of Nehmeket is a gift of the ambassador Bolos Bei Iusuf to the monastery of the Armenians on the isle of San Lazzaro: Its incredible good conditions make it one of the most admired mummy all over Europe.

The isle of San Lazzaro, known as the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, as the original monks came from Armenia, is just a short boat’s trip from the Piazza San Marco embarcadero.

10. Jobs you can do only if you live in Venezia

Can you work as a “gondolier” somewhere else than in Venice? Of course you cannot!
There are some few other jobs that are typical of this dreamy city.

The “impiraresse” is one of these jobs.  An “impiraressa” earned her life piling the glass pearls into long lines to create necklaces and other bijoux.  Though not very popular today, there are a few ladies in Venice who still work as “impiraresse”.

And what about “squeraroli”? The “squeraroli” were the “masters of ax”. They were at the head of the carpenters who cut the wood to build vessels, boats and even gondolas. They worked in “squeri” (old laboratories) and a few “squeri” are still visible in Venice.

Our suggestions for a green stay in Venice?

In the heart of Gran Canal, Ca’Riza is an eco-friendly B&B in a historic building in the Santa Croce district. Here you will be overwhelmed by the charm of the Venetian style. You will find bright and welcoming rooms with private bathrooms, and a breakfast based on organic and local products that you can consume in your room.

Casa Vacanze at Lido: admire the Venice skyline from the Lido island and get ready for the Venice film festival!

Cover photo: puppy gondolier in Venice, ph. by Y Nakanishi, via Flickr

Author: Cristiana Pedrali

"Loving your job is the closest you can get to happiness on earth” (Rita Levi Montalcini) and “when real people fall down in real life they get back on their feet and carry on walking” (Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City): these are my two mantras. I’m a bit like this: I go through being serious to playful to help me manage a thousand different interests and commitments, keeping a smile through it all. I work in the tourism industry and on the web and every so often I look for some breathing space through reading and travel!
More posts by Cristiana Pedrali →

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