Venice – “Z” is for Zani-

The utilization of the Venetian dialect and simple local vernacular, to refer to many place names, and by extension historical names or events, in Venice is confusing to most non-Venetians who often hear or read about two or more different titles for the same thing. 

“Zanipolo?  I was looking for San Giovanni e Paolo.”

“Scalzi?  I was looking for Santa Maria di Nazarete.”

 The potential for confusion is further enhanced by wholesale changing of place names due to newer signal events outweighing the previous designations. 

Frari or Santa Maria Glorioso or Santa Maria Maggiore?  (c)2011 Randy D. Bosch

Frari or Santa Maria Glorioso or Santa Maria Maggiore? (c)2011 Randy D. Bosch

A superior saint is claimed by a church, usually with body or relic “in hand”, and the old one is demoted by changing the name of the church.  A hero of the republic is to be honored, and the old church name on the campo will not draw attention to the honor, so the name is changed.  A simple shortening of some names occurs over time – a few saints dropped from the “letterhead” of a particular church for convenience, perhaps, with the “senior partner’s” name remaining.

Some edifices have been demolished, but their location remains in the name of a calle or campo to provide a riddle for later arrivals in the City.  Names are changed to salute the new hero.

Dialect – including the impact of foreign togues delivered through expatriate colonies in Venice such as the Dalmatians and Greeks – and local use (vernacular) is the most prevalent catalyst for change over time.  Over centuries, that usage may be applied formally to the calle or campo by a church to which the “nickname” was first applied.  Of course, the popular “typographical error” that makes its way into untold history and guidebooks (let alone via the misplaced fingers of your loyal blogger!) provides a vast array of spellings for specific places in the City.

The list of such overlay and successor terminology may be endless.  A simple sorting function check on one of my databases provides a generous offering just for churches – almost 100 with many more “out there” for your discovery and enjoyment!

Vernacular Name Current Formal Name
San Giacometto San Giacomo  di Rialto
San Pantalon San Pantaleon e Giuliana
San Geminiano San Geminianus e Menna
San Marcuola Ss. Ermagora e Fortunato
San Angelo San Michiele Archangelo
Sant’Antonin San Antonio
Anzolo Rafael Angelo Raffaele
San Marziale San Marcilian
Le Virgini Santa Maria della Vergini
San Nicolo S.Niccolo de Mendicoli
San Zan Degola San Giovanni Battista Decollato 
San Cassan or Cassiano Santa Cecilia
di Galizia S. Giacomo Maggiore
San Servolo Santo Titolare
San Zuane di Rialto San Giovanni Elemosinario
San Trovaso Ss. Protasio e San Gervasio
San Giacomo dall Orio San Giacomo Maggiore Apostolo
San Fantin Madonna di San Fantino
San Procolo San Provolo
San Zulian San Giuliano
San Polo San Paolo Apostole
San Canzian Ss. Canziano, Canzio e Canzionello
Sant’ Eufemia Ss. Eufemia, Dorothy,Tecla e Erasma
Zobenigo Santa Maria dei Giglio
San Basegio San Basilio Magno
San Lio San Leone IX
San Simeon Piccolo Ss. Simeon e Giuda
San Stin S. Stefanino Confessori
San Vio Ss. Vito e Modestus
San Toma San Tommaso Apostolo
Sant’Anzolo Sant’Angelo
Misericordia Sta. Maria di ValVerde
Sant’Agostin San Agostino
San Stae San Eustacio
San Simeon Grande San Simeon Profeto
San Zaninovo San Giovanni in Olio
Santa Maria Nova Sta. Maria della Assunta
San Beneto San Benedetto
San Gioacchino Santa Maria Ausiliatrice
Gesuiti S.Maria Assunta
Sant’Agnese S. Agnese
Sant’Aponal Sant’Appollinare
di Paludo S. Giacomo Maggiore
San Geremia San Geremia e Lucia
San Lena Sant’Elena
San Giovanni Crisostomo San Giovanni Grisostomo
San Vidal San Vitale
San Boldo San Ubaldo
del Tempio S.Giovanni Batista di Malta
Santa Maria in Broglio Sta. Maria dell’Ascensione
Carita / Accademia Sta. Maria della Carita
San Matteo San Mattio de Rialto
La Maddalena Sta. Maria Maddalena Penitente
Santa Ternita San Gherardo Sagredo
Zanipolo Santi Giovanni e Paolo
Frari S. Maria Glorioso dei Frari
Carmini Santa Maria del Carmello
SD Padri Predictatore San Domenico
Santa Marta Ss. Andrea e Marta
Zani Vecovo S.Giovanni Vecovo di Caorle
Della Zueca S. Croce della Giudecca
Volto Santo Santa Maria dei Servi
San Niccoletto San Niccolo della Lattuga dei Frari
Madonna del’Orto San Cristoforo Martire
Santagioppo San Giobbe
Sant’Alvise San Ludovico
Visitazione Sta. Maria della Visitazione
La Pieta Santa Maria della Pieta
Gesuati Santa Maria del Rosario
Cristo Re alla Celestia Sta. Maria della Celestia
Ognissanti Tutti I Santi
della Fava SMaria/Madonna della Consolazione
San Rocco Santi Rocco, Stefano e Margherita
Miracoli Sta. Maria dei Miracoli
San Zuane de Teran San Giovanni Laterano
Santa Maria Gloriosa Sta. Maria dell’Assunta
Sant’Isepo San Giuseppe di Castello
Incurabile S.Salvatore degli Incurabile
Zanzo Tolentini San Nicolo da Tolentino
dei Servi Santa Maria della Grazie
Casa Pia San Giovanni dei Catechumeni
 Redentori Sta. Maria degli Angeli
Salute Sta. Maria dell Umilita
San Angelo Polvere St. Angelo dei Giudecca
Greci San Giorgio dei Greci
Zitelle Santa Maria della Presentazione 
Le Muneghette Gesu e de Maria
Ospidaletto Sta. Maria dei Dereletti
Convertite Santa Maria Magdalena
Casa Pia Santa Maria del Soccorso
I Reformati San Bonaventura
Le Terese Santa Teresa
Scalzi Santa Maria di Nazareth
Le Eremite Ss. Gesu, Giuseppe e Maria della Ere.
Le Cappuccine Santa Maria delle Grazie 
Gesu e Maria Santissima Nome di Jesu

You are invited to offer additions, alternatives and corrections to the list, if you are so obsessively-compulsively inclined!

Trying to learn and apply local vernacular is a good exercise, but care must be taken not to offend!  Whatever else you might do, never ask a Venetian for the location of…

Mickey D’s !


About randysrules

From a professional background in architecture, community and regional planning, urban design, leadership, and fine arts, this blog provides insights on ethics, leadership, architecture/planning/urban design, Venice, and whatever intrigues me at the time. Enjoy!
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1 Response to Venice – “Z” is for Zani-

  1. ytaba36 says:

    Uffa! That made my brain sore, Randy.

Comments are closed.