Local traditions and culture in Venice

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    Finished your drink!?

    by sue_stone Updated Jan 5, 2007

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    There are all types of musicians in the world, and when you travel from town to city to town you will invariably see all sorts of talented people playing an array of instruments.

    In Venice, it was the first time that I had seen this particular type of muso - the 'incredible glass playing man'.

    Has anyone else stumbled across this talented individual, or perhaps someone else out there shares this love for the music emitted from a bit of glass rubbing!?

    Contact me if you can shed some light on this rarely seen and rarely heard musical delight

    what the!
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    Do they speak Italian in Venezia?

    by breughel Updated Jul 27, 2010

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    Do they speak Italian in Venezia? No they don't.
    They speak English.
    As soon as a tourist speaks to somebody in a hotel, restaurant, shop, museum, transport or to anybody busy with tourism, they will answer in English even if that tourist started in Italian.
    So, if from your travels in Italy, you have learned some Italian words or expressions don't expect to use them in Venice, they won't let you try.

    When I told them, in Italian, that I did not understand English, they started in French, when I refused to speak French they went over to German. The only way I found to practise Italian, a language I love for its musicality, was to tell them that I only speak Flemish!
    On this they abandoned and finally spoke Italian with me like I wanted.

    Besides this, Venetians, as others Italians, appreciate when foreigners try to speak some Italian just to wish a good day or to say that the food or wine they were served was good.
    These last years one will observe in Europe a strong demand for reconnaissance of national or regional identities. Language is an important factor of our identity on the Old Continent, something (often Anglophone) tourists forget. Don't be afraid of saying "bon giorno" when entering somewhere in Venice.

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    Where the Locals park their Boat

    by sue_stone Written Apr 13, 2005

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    So when you live in a city built on islands you don't drive a car, you drive a boat, right. And when you come home in your boat, where do you park it....why, in the garage of course!

    Take a look at this photo - it is a boat garage that I came across whilst wandering around Venice one day.

    I guess the straps are lowered, the boat glides in and then it is raised up out of the water - ingenious!

    Anyone know more about it? Let me know.

    Venice garage
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    Palazzo Dario – the Cursed Palace (I&V)

    by Zvrlj Updated Jan 4, 2010

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    Palazzo Dario is a palace on the Grand Canal, in the Dorsoduro sestriere of Venice, between Santa Maria della Salute and Ca'Venier dei Leoni. It is one of the most beautiful and the most exotic palaces in Venice. It is often compared to Ca d'Oro and Chiesa dei Miracoli, for the good reason – it was designed by a follower of Pietro Lombardo, in the floral Venetian Gothic style. The facade is entirely encased with marble and decorated with the round incrustations in the right wing. A neo-Gothic balcony in the second floor was added in the 19th century. The high chimneys, among the few conserved examples in Venice, are of special note.

    Palazzo Dario was erected in late 15th century for Giovanni Dario, the Secretary of the Venetian Senate, a rich merchant and a respected diplomat who served Venice well – he had even successfully negotiated a peace treaty in 1479 between Venice and Sultan Mehmet II. After the death of Giovanni Dario in 1494, the palace passed to his son in law Vincenzo Barbaro, who had married Dario's daughter Marietta in 1492 or 1493. It remained property of Barbaro family until the 19th century.

    But the palace is not widely known for its beauty, the architectural achievements of its designer, for its history or the famous admirers (such as John Ruskin or Claude Monet) – Palazzo Dario is famous as a cursed palace!

    Franz Babinger, the German historian, traces the first serious misfortune at the palace to Vincenzo Barbaro – he insulted a city official and was publicly disgraced and stripped of his office. He was later murdered; his wife, Dario's daughter, died of shame. Her tomb and that of her father, on a nearby island, were later used to store gunpowder and were blown up during an Austrian siege in 1849. Several of the later Palazzo Dario's occupants have come to a sticky end as well: the story says that the English scholar Rawdon Lubbock Brown committed suicide in the house after sinking a fortune into its renovation in the 19th century (which could hardly stand as he lived for 41 years after he had sold the palace); Kit Lambert, manager of The Who, was murdered soon after moving out; in 1979 Count Filippo Giordano delle Lanze had his brains smashed with a candlestick wielded by his lover; a Venetian businessman named Fabrizio Ferrari went bust and then his sister was murdered; and in 1993 the industrialist and yachtsman Raul Gardini, who had bought the house in 1985, was found dead in Milan, apparently having shot himself. There are several persons on the "list" whose names are forgotten, but not their poor fortune: an Armenian diamond merchant who is said to have gone spectacularly bankrupt, guest of French aristocrat, Comtesse de la Baume Pluviniel who reputedly died soon after staying at the palace…

    This series of ghost stories "confirm" the imaginative superstition. With or without it – Palazzo Dario is very noticeable edifice even in the city as rich in them as Venice is. Just to add that the palace is the private property nowadays and it is not open to the public. Could it be bought for a song because of the curse? We are not sure, but there are such rumors.

    Palazzo Dario
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    Spritz (I&V)

    by Zvrlj Updated May 17, 2009

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    Spritz is cocktail typical for Venice and Veneto region. It was recommended to us by our friends who had "discovered" it by asking for the same the boys next table had been drinking. It turned to be very good, especially on hot summer days.

    Spritz is made of either Aperol, Campari, Select or Cynar, mixed with White Wine or Prosecco and Sparkling Mineral Water, with add of piece of orange and green olive or strawberry. Ice is necessary too. Our favourite is with Aperol and olive (V) and Aperol and strawberry (I).

    Spritz is not very expensive drink except in bars on Riva degli Schiavoni, Campo Santa Maria Formosa and Campo San Cassano (as far as we know, this probably is not the final list). Good spritz costing normal price we had drunk in several bars on Campo Santa Margherita, Campo San Giacomo dall'Orio and Campo Francesco Morosini.

    Except for sharing passion for Venice with Ingrid (VT Trekki), we share affection for spritz.

    Spritz
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    Where Do They Keep All Those Boats?

    by tpal Updated Dec 16, 2004

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    I have to admit that both Carol and I are closet voyeurs. We love getting a peek in behind the slightly ajar door or the undraped window. We don't climb over fences or use a telescope but if we are walking by and a glimpse of real life presents itself...we need to take a look.

    Our hotel in Venice was located in Dorsoduro so on the night we arrived we decided to stay local. It was a perfect evening so we headed for the Zattere, the quayside which runs along the southern edge of Dorsoduro. It was along here that by law, in the 17th century, all the wood that came to Venice was to be unloaded. Consequently, most of the buildings along here are warehouse structures now adaptively reused for a variety of purposes.

    As we walked along we observed a man washing off a small boat at the edge of the promenade and...he was working outside an open doorway. To quote Howard Carter to Lord Carnarvon, a peek inside revealed "...wonderful things!". Stacked like dinner plates on a rack was a spectacular array of wooden boats. With the permission of the gentleman outside we went in for a better look. The boats were beautifully finished and clearly well cared for. They were variations of gondolas and other Venetian regatta racing boats. On the side wall was a collection of forcole (the oarlocks used on gondolas), woodworking tools and even a straw gondoliers hat. This was a boating inner sanctum.

    Boat sacristy along the Zattere

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    "Short Dictionary of Toponyms" (I&V)

    by Zvrlj Updated Apr 11, 2010

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    There are some Venetian words and symbols that are recurrent in the toponyms of the city, such as Rio, Rio Tera, Calle, Salizzada, Ramo, Ruga, Fondamenta, Lista, Piscina… The most of this very useful "Short Dictionary of Toponyms" is taken from "The Secret Venice of Corto Maltese" by Guido Fuga and Lele Vianello.

    Calle – a street that is long rather than wide.
    Campiello – a tiny square.
    Campo – a square.
    Corte – a courtyard.
    Fondamenta – a street beside a canal and seeing also as the foundation for the buildings on the street. Another name for fondamenta is "riva".
    Lista – this name was used to indicate the nearabouts of the palace where a foreign ambassador resided. As in the case of ancient asylums, the area concerned granted immunity to all offenders.
    Piscina – these were ponds originally used as bathing premises and later tilled in.
    Ponte – a bridge.
    Ramo – a little side street branching off from a main street.
    Rio – a small canal; some still bear maces of the shutting device chat was used to prevent nocturnal transit.
    Rio Tera – a street which results from time filling-in of a canal.
    Riva – same as fondamenta: a street beside a canal and seeing also as the foundation for the buildings on the street.
    Ruga – a street that is lined on both sides with shops and residences.
    Salizzada – this name was used for the wider streets and also for the first paved streets.
    Sotoportego – a street passing under a building.

    Venetian street sign Venetian street sign Venetian street sign
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    Master Artisan Unique to Venice

    by tpal Written Jan 21, 2005

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    This is Saverio Pastor and he is a master. He is the sculptor of an essential component necessary for the propulsion and maneuverability of a gondola...the fòrcola. Its purpose is to provide a fulcrum point for the oar. I had first heard of fòrcole while watching a Public Broadcasting Corporation program staring Nathan Lane in which he toured Venice's Grand Canal as a Main Street. During the program he visited a fòrcola workshop and I was hooked.

    The fòrcola is carved from a single piece of walnut or cherry wood into a wide variety of shapes and sizes. As Saverio explained, the different shapes depended on the intended use and the type of gondola. Some fòrcole had two or three oar positions (see photo) which in effect acted as sort of gear changes for racing boats. The fòrcola which Saverio is working on in the photo is intended for a wedding gondola which Carol and I thought was romantically appropriate for us and...what we could afford.

    The process of ordering one of these unique art works takes a bit of faith. Saverio writes your name and email in his notebook and explains it will take about three months at which time he will send wire transfer info because no, he does not take Visa. Then you go home and wait. Eventually, three months later I received an email which said, "I am ready" with his bank numbers listed. On faith I wired the money and lo one week later FedEx delivered our very own fòrcola. Perfect and fantastic!

    Saverio Pastor in f��rcola workshop
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    Back Street Altars

    by JetlagCity Written Aug 14, 2004

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    You'll see little altars like this built right into the walls of some of the back streets of Venice. This one, with a statue of the Virgin Mary, was in Dorsoduro, near the Maritime Station. People put flowers or other offerings inside the bars - the devotion implied was quite striking to me, since I don't run across that often in the U.S.

    street altar
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    Difficult for the solo traveller

    by christine.j Updated Apr 13, 2007

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    I noticed that in quite a few restaurants many dishes were marked as
    "minimum two orders".
    This doesn't matter if you're travelling with another person who likes the same food as you do. But if you're on your own, or simply like to eat different things, this can be a problem.

    I can't think of any reason for this, maybe someone from Venice can enlighten me.
    For us it was no problem, since we both like the same type of food. Still, it would have
    been nice to try a greater variety by ordering two different dishes and then share.

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    Even in Venice...Just The Transport is Different

    by tpal Updated Dec 15, 2004

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    I am sure you have been told that everything in Venice moves by boat and ultimately this probably is correct. But, not everything at every point along the way travels on the water. Case in point are these unfortunate but none the less indispensable necessities.

    As we walked along a narrow calle in the eastern end of Cannaregio we began to pass the open doorways to many small woodworking workshops. Just ahead we were startled to see what appeared to be two unattended departed souls. With some relief we realized that the caskets were, in fact, new (and unused) and parked outside a local casket shop. No bronze sarcophagi these. These were finely crafted, hand made and wooden. Beautifully finished and ready for delivery...via hand cart.

    Awaiting delivery

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    Italians are fabulous!

    by sue_stone Written May 22, 2005

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    I love the Italians and their way of life - they have the right idea. Fabulous sense of style, love their food and wine, the best coffee in Europe.

    And their pets even get to travel in style! Look at this little fellow that I shared the train with on my way from Venice to Verona.

    I snuck this picture when his owner popped to the bathroom.

    Woof!

    friendly local!?
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    When you need to go...

    by christine.j Updated Apr 13, 2007

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    ...you need to go. But I didn't see too many public toilets in Venice. Close to San Marco there are some, but they are only open during the day, from 10 in the morning to 7 in the evening.

    Be sure to have some coins to open them.

    Another toilet is in the train station, when you enter the area of the platforms, they are on the right side. Again, you have to pay.

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    Street Names etc

    by suvanki Updated May 26, 2007

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    Venice is divided into 6 sestieres, and each sestiere may have many streets with the same name. Also, a street may have different spellings- Campo San Biagio is also known as Blasio or Biassio.
    Peculiar to Venice is a system of numbering streets- the whole sestiere is numbered! So each Sestiere has a number 1, from which the numbers wind up and down in no apparent pattern, untill they end with a sign indicating that this is the last number of that particular Sestiere. San Marcos last number is near the main Post Office.

    Street Names-

    Calle = Street
    Rio = canal (Canale is only applied to the Grande Canale and a few others)
    Piazza = A square (only San Marco qualifies for this title)
    Piazzette= Only 2 squares in Venice adjacent to San Marco are entitled to use this
    Piazzale = another square-the only one being the Car Park Piazzale Roma
    Campo = square
    Campiello = a small square
    Fondamento = A Street that runs alongside a canal -often has the same name as the canal
    Rio Terra = A filled in canal
    Piscina = similar to Rio Terre, often forms a square. Previously a turning basin for boats
    Sotoportico or Sotoportego = covered passageway
    Salizzada =A main street (formerly one that was paved)
    Strada = street or road
    Riva = A wide fondamenta (or Quay)
    Molo = Quay
    Corte = A courtyard or blind Alley
    Sacca= A basin on the cities edge
    Ramo = a street branching off another street, often with the same name
    Ruga = old name for an important street
    Ponte = Bridge

    Some streets have more than one name, which may be indicated on a sign by o between the 2 names o = or

    Many of the signs have the name of the sestiere or the area of the sestiere on them.

    Yellow signs point the direction to main landmarks such as San Marco or Rialto. While signs with gondolas point to the nearest traghetto stop, or boats indicate the vaporetto stop.

    The last numbered building in San Marco Street sign Venice Calle delle Rasse street sign Street sign Venice Street sign Venice
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    Ombretta

    by craic Updated Feb 4, 2008

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    Sitting in a cafe just before lunch I was a bit surprised to see lots of older gents wandering cheerfully into the place looking for strong drink to give them an appetite. I have only noticed this search for an appetite enhancer before the evening meal in Roma. I mentioned this to my friend and she laughed and told me the story of the ombretta - which is what the little drinky is called.
    There used to be wine stalls under the bell tower in St Mark's Square. Around about 11am the shadow of the tower would fall on the stalls. So anyone looking for a drink would say - I'm just looking for some shade. Give me a little shade. (Ombretta.)

    Another local laughed when I told him I knew what ombretta was and said the old gents have an ombretta and then another ombretta until they are completely ombretta-ed.

    Each region in Italy has its own way of doing things - and with their ombretta Venetians often have ciccetta - delicious little nibblies - which look very different indeed from the nibblies offered in Roma at aperativo time.

    I do believe Venetians have the reputation of being drunkards - without wanting to upset anyone.
    And I did indeed notice a greater keeness for drink during more of the day than usual.
    But still - nothing like what you would find in Australia.

    PS I find it is also called an ombra - when it is not a little drinky poos I suppose. When you are looking for more than a little shade.

    Give me some shade!

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