Fora squara

I have just finished to read a very nice book, a sentimental guide about Venice, Cercando Venezia (Seeking Venice) by Paolo Ganz.

In one of the pages the author refers to the town using a beautiful Venetian term: fora squara (crooked). An expression that has stroken and enchanted me as, I think, that it cannot be more appropriate for Venice.

The town is built on unstable ground and not even the petriefied forest that lies underneath it is able to completely sustain buildings straight up.

Walls must be elastic in order to adapt to the movements of the soil. Sometimes it seems as if they fall in and sometimes as if they fall out, ready to drop on you. They never have a right angle and to furnish a room might result as a challenge.


Crooked are also the bridges. A lot of them are crossing the canals in diagonal lines as many were built in a second moment in order to connect two alleys that were not supposed to be joint.


Canals and streets look like creeping snakes playing in the light or shade. Canals still show the curved line of rivers and streets always adapt to the shape of the water.

Not even pavements are nice and flat. They always present a little hill in the centre and when there is high water Venetians always know not to walk against the buildings where water might certainly be deeper and with more chances to get into your Wellington boots.

Windows, doors, belltowers and chimneys always tilt on one side and they seem as if they making fun of you, pretending you to think that, perhaps, you had too many spritzes and that you are unable to see things under the right prospect.


Fora squara has also the significance of “kind of strange” and it is this binomial that has charmed me so much. The association of the architectural aspect with the mood and attitude meaning is so lovely and fun. Venice, the town where everything and everybody are fora squara and certainly, you cannot blame Venetians to be like this. You need to be a little strange to live in such a different place.

To conclude, I cannot restrain myself from telling you about the way directions are given by the Venetians to people. Something that sounds like a joke: “Straight on over the bridge”.

Ganz P., Cercando Venezia, Mare di Carta Edizioni, Venezia, 2015.

Remedio – Wine in Venice Part II

Remedio is another word which is related to wine and specifically with a quality of malavasia,  a sweet golden wine coming from the Venetian terre da mar.

This type of vinification provided three types of Malvasia:  dolce, which was sold abroad because not really liked by the Venetians; tonda which had a thin and smooth flavour; and garba more strong and acid. This last type was very popular also because it was believed to cure stomach disorders.

The best Malvasia Garba of Venice was believed to be sold at a malvasia near Santa Maria Formosa whose owner’s name was Remedio and as Remedy sounds like “rimedio” (remedy), the wine sold in this shop was believed to contain special properties. Later the name was even used to name the area. In fact today you can find a calle, a fondamenta and a bridge with the same name.

Malvasie and magazeni were not the only shops where you could have wine. You could taste a good glass of it in a osteria, a place where you could drink but also eat and find accomodation.

At the beginning of the fourteenth century just around the Rialto area there were 16 osterie and several streets name are still today reminding of these places: Calle alla Torre, Calle della Scimmia, Calle della Donzella, etc.

Do Spade is the only osteria still exsisting and still partly providing the same business: drinking and food.

Today one of the most popular in town where to experience good cicheti and a nice glass of wine.

Now let’s stop talking and…….let’s go tasting.


Favero, C. ed., Venice and Viticulture. Wines and Wines: the legacy of the Venetian Republic, Biblos Edizioni, Cittadella (PD), 2014.

Magazen – Wine in Venice Part I

Exploring Venice you might end up in an alley with a misleading name “Magazen”. In Italian the word makes you think of a storehouse. In Venetian the word is instead connected to the practice of drinking wine.

In the Middle Ages the Venetian had the merit to turn the drinking of wine into a status symbol: a beverage that for many years was more associated to religion, became a gift to rulers and was served during important banquets, thus becoming a product that you could not be left without it.

The barges transporting the wine barrels were docking at the Rialto, at the Riva del Vin, where they had to wait for inspection by the custom officers, who then gave the authorization for the unloading and storage of the barrels after they had reckoned their contenents.

The equivalent of today bars started to spread all around the town, each with their specific characteristics.

The magazeni were responsible for the sale of local wine and served by the jug rather by the glass and were frequented by the lower class.

The malvasie served rather more high-quality wine: the refined sweet wines from the East, also named “shipped wines”.

The malvasie had also some restrictions: they could not host card-plying and they could not advertise their presence with a sign so the owners simply began to identify their business with branches of laurel, which became their trademark.

The Malvasie were also recognizible by a particular sort of interior made with wine barrels used as elegant tables by their customers, exactly as you can still find today if you decide to melt into the Venetian dolce vita.

If you are ready for such an experience do not wait, clic on this link and we will have fun together.


Favero, C. ed., Venice and Viticulture. Wines and Wines: the legacy of the Venetian Republic, Biblos Edizioni, Cittadella (PD), 2014.




To talk about Venice is easy and difficult because of the rich subject matter.

In this blog I could talk about the legends, history, recipes or about the people. But, what I have decided to do, is to tell you about Venice through its language. Venetian has been recognized as a proper language, not simply as a dialect. Venetian has its own syntax and an independent grammar, plus a fully recognized literature production. It is a language that, thanks to its own nuances and characteristics, is able to describe its own people in a rather intimate way.

And what a better word to start with than “Ciao

Probably the most used greeting in the world. Not many people know that this word derives from a form of deference used by Venetian merchants towards their clients. In fact they used to address someone with a  bulging wallet with the expression “sciavo” [s:ciavo] (I am your) slave, soon after to be contracted in “sciao” [s:ciao] and finally into the form that everybody knows “ciao“.

I cannot then end my first short paper with ciao, talk to you soon.