I recently installed Fastweb for broadband internet service. As I was giving my information to the representative over the phone, she asked, “Indirizzo?” My address is San Marco, 1662. “E la via, Signora?” She wants to know the street name.
There’s not one, I tell her; it’s Venice. I live on a piscina — once a stagnant pool that’s since been filled-in — but it’s not my address. My official address is San Marco, 1662, and although the postino will be able to find it easily with this notation, no one else could.
There are specific names for all the walkways and thoroughfares throughout Venice, most of which do not exist anywhere outside the city itself. Look for them as you wander:
rio – these are the water-streets, the smaller canals that wind through the city,
calle – I equate this with alley, but it is a walkway between two buildings, and what is in Venice instead of vie, strade, ecc.
calleta – a narrower version of the calle (stretch out both arms to touch each side).
rio terÃ – It used to be a rio, but has since been filled-in, and now serves pedestrian traffic.
piscina – a pool where the water stagnated, and so was filled-in and paved.
fondamenta – This is a walkway that runs along side a rio or the lagoon.
riva – these also run along side the lagoon or larger canal, with spaces for boat moorings: gondolas, taxis, yachts, etc.
sottoportego – A passageway that runs under a building.
salizada – A broader, more open calle, functioning as main thoroughfare.
ruga – a calle with lots of stores and businesses (taken from the French word, rue.)
Piazza – the one, the only, San Marco.
campiello – a smaller campo.
corte – a courtyard, shared by several houses.
That should be enough to get your started, but not to keep from getting lost…