5 words to get around in Venice

You might know some basic Italian, but Venice has a unique vocabulary all of its own. Don't worry, we've got you covered with this list of words that will help you get around the city. 

1) Calle

By calle we mean the street between two continuous rows of buildings. There may be some variations, depending on the characteristics of the street itself: the callesel refers to a street that is very narrow (up to sixty centimetres wide) ramo is used for a dead end, and salizada if the street is somehow important.

A calle or street in Venice

2) Campo

Campi and campielli – depending on their size – are what we call ‘squares’, the true centre of Venetian social life. Some of these feature a stone wellhead, to protect the opening. Today they are all sealed, but at one time they were the only source of drinking water.

a square of campo in Venice

3) Fondamenta

A fondamenta is a street that runs along a canal; it can have a railing (but not necessarily) and can be covered with a portico, in which case it’s called a sotoportego. Many fondamente also have approdi or docks, steps made of Istrian stone to help people get in and out of boats.

a fondamenta or street along the canal in Venice

4) Corte

As with the campo, the corte (courtyard) is comprised of an empty space surrounded by homes. However, while the ‘campo’, as a square, has a more public and social dimension, the corte refers to a smaller sphere of interactions, limited to the inhabitants of the homes that surround it.

a corte or courtyard in Venice

5) Rio

The rio is a smaller version of a canal, and a key element to understand the road system of Venice’s historic centre. Some of them trace the path of ancient lagoon channels. Others, which generally have a straightened path, are totally artificial.

a small canal or rio in Venice

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