Venice is a unique city and as we have already seen has its own dictionary. But when streets and piazze are mentioned we are convinced we know what they mean. But Venice is even unique in this sense: there aren’t streets or cars, but alleyways (calli) and smaller alleys (callette); no piazze but squares, no rivers but canals and rii. Here are some suggestions in orientating and getting accustomed to these names.
It is a typical Venetian street. It can be wide (calle larga) or narrow (calletta) but they are essentially the bone structure that make up Venice and the connections to get around by foot. If the ampleness of the more spacious alley ways can be measured in meters the smaller ones are measured in centimeters, like in the case of Calle Varisco, in the Cannaregio quarter. It only measures 50 centimeters, the narrowest in Venice. Typical names for calli in Venice derive from nearby churches or they refer to professions or businesses in the vicinity.
Is a type of alleyway. They are particularly important and long and can be called Ruga. If you visit Venice, surely sooner or later you will pass by Ruga Rialto, Ruga degli Oresi or maybe even Ruga Giuffa.
It’s the part of the street that runs alongside the canal or rio. Basically a calle that touches water on one side. There are many characteristic ones in Venice and they are a constant reminder of the convenience they have between land and sea. Some fondamente can be flanked with iron railings or stone slabs from Istria and some have no protection whatsoever. Do be careful when leaning to far over to admire the panorama.
Rio is a main canal that connects to adjacent canals that skirt palaces and fondamente separating the different islands that form Venice.
If you see this written on a nizioletto (white painted sign on buildings) you’ll find yourself in one of the first calli paved in Venice. Historically in fact, only the most important calli were paved with the classical cobbled grey stone.