SOCIAL EVOLUTION OF VENETIAN TOPONYMY

Tuesday 20 October 2015 HISTORY OF VENICE 5.00 pm – admission free

Rightly or wrongly, toponymy is seen as a sterile and boring sector. The Serenissima society has sought to create something truly original in this area, which is different from coeval cities on this continent.
At the start of the Middle Ages, toponymy in the Lagoon was simplified and linear (when present), making use of the morphological features of a particular location (‘rio de l’alboro’ – ‘river of the tree’ being a pertinent example). In our eyes, an ecosystem, yet to be fully tamed, stands out; some corners are primitive, even wild, in western and southern parts of Venice.
When choosing names there can also be reference to the prevalent trades, as well as the immediate surroundings (the ruga dei oresi and the calle dei pastori, referring goldsmiths and pastors respectively). Furthermore the feminine form of the name of well-known families can be seen (Corte Delfina, Calle Contarina, etc.). The families’ undertakings have characterised certain areas, creating psychological as well as economic links to local activities. This was often done when naming ships, especially military ones.

Presented by Prof. Marco Zanetto

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