Italian street types

In Toponymy by Silvio DellʼAcqua

The street name -aka “odonym” (from ancient greek hodós “way, street” and onomastikòs, “denominating”) or “street toponym”- is a name identifying a public space in an urban area, usually an area of free pedestrian and vehicular movement giving access to buildings or private areas. The street names are usually part of an address and are generally composed of the “specific”, that is the own name of the place to be identified, plus a street type designation -aka the “generic”- that details the type of public space: e.g. “street” or “square”. In English the generics are used as suffixes, but broadly speaking in Latin languages such as Italian the street designation is placed before the specific name. These terms may contribute important testimony about the urbanistic and linguistic history of a single city or an area and the Italian names are particularly diverse, due to the wide variety of cultural, natural and urbanistic environments of the Italian peninsula: in addition to the most common via and piazza (that are equivalent to “street” and “plaza”) we can indeed find an astonishingly broad range of different street types: angiporto and vicolo coming straight from the middle ages, rio and merceria, found in Venice only, cupa in Naples, as well as the claustro in Altamura or the corticella in Verona. And many more…

Comparison between a street name in Italian (left) and English (right)

1 – Comparison between a street name in Italian (left) and English (right): in Italian, the street type (“viale”, meaning “Avenue”) is placed before the specific, instead in English is placed after the specific. On the left: street sign in Lodi, Italy. On the right: street sign in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, UK.

Preparing an exhaustive list of italian street types is a tricky task, both because of the difficult access to information on some local areas, and because some terms sound ambiguous, and the choice of including them in the list may be questionable or at least subjective (should we consider frazione a street type?). Some lists do actually exist, set up out of technical requirements by public bodies but these are generally incomplete and/or redundant. Moreover, none of them explain what is the difference between e.g. a largo and a piazza. I thus decided to try and fill this gap, searching all the street types denominations and discarding the unused ones to then attempt to explain the meaning and the origin of each term. I included all the street types that have at least one street/house number and that are reported in the official municipality listing or at least reported on an official street sign. The result is an encyclopaedic glossary, currently composed of 331 items and continuously updated.

  1. accesso
  2. allea
  3. alinea
  4. alzaia
  5. androna
  6. angiporto
  7. arco
  8. archivolto
  9. arena
  10. argine
  11. bacino
  12. baluardo
  13. banchi
  14. banchina
  15. barbarìa
  16. bastione
  17. bastioni
  18. belvedere
  19. bivio
  20. borgata
  21. borgo
  22. borgoloco
  23. cal
  24. calata
  25. calle
  26. calle larga
  27. calle lunga
  28. calle stretta
  29. callesèlla
  30. callesèllo
  31. callétta
  32. campiello
  33. campo
  34. canale
  35. cantone
  36. capo di piazza
  37. carraia
  38. carrara
  39. carrarone
  40. carro
  41. cascina
  42. case sparse
  43. cavalcavia
  44. cavone
  45. chiasso
  46. chiassetto
  47. chiassuola
  48. circonvallazione
  49. circumvallazione
  50. claustro
  51. clivio
  52. clivo
  53. complanare
  54. contrà
  55. contrada
  56. corsetto
  57. corsia
  58. corso
  59. corte
  60. cortesela
  61. corticella
  62. cortile
  63. cortile privato
  64. costa
  65. crocicchio
  66. crosa
  67. cupa
  68. cupa vicinale
  69. diramazione
  70. discesa
  71. distacco
  72. emiciclo
  73. erta
  74. estramurale
  75. fondaco
  76. fondamenta
  77. fondo
  78. fossa
  79. fossato
  80. frazione
  81. galleria
  82. gradinata
  83. gradini
  84. gradoni
  85. granviale
  86. isola
  87. larghetto
  88. largo
  89. laterale
  90. lido
  91. lista
  92. litoranea
  93. località
  94. lungadige
  95. lungarno
  96. lungo
  97. lungoadda
  98. lungoargine
  99. lungobisagno
  100. lungo Brenta
  101. lungobusento
  102. lungocalore
  103. lungo Castellano
  104. lungocrati
  105. lungocanale
  106. lungocurone
  107. lungodora
  108. lungofiume
  109. lungofoglia
  110. lungofrigido
  111. lungogesso
  112. lungoisarco
  113. lungoisonzo
  114. lungolago
  115. lungolario
  116. lungolinea
  117. lungoliri
  118. lungomare
  119. lungomazaro
  120. lungomolo
  121. lungonera
  122. lungoparco
  123. lungo Po
  124. lungoporto
  125. lungosabato
  126. lungosile
  127. lungostura
  128. lungotalvera
  129. lungotanaro
  130. lungotevere
  131. lungoticino
  132. lungotorrente
  133. lungotronto
  134. lungovelino
  135. masseria
  136. merceria
  137. molo
  138. mura
  139. murazzi del Po
  140. parallela
  141. passaggio
  142. passaggio privato
  143. passeggiata
  144. passeggio
  145. passo
  146. passo di piazza
  147. pendice
  148. pendino
  149. pendio
  150. penninata
  151. piaggia
  152. piazza
  153. piazza inferiore
  154. piazza privata
  155. piazzale
  156. piazzetta
  157. piazzetta privata
  158. piscina
  159. ponte
  160. portico
  161. porto
  162. prato
  163. prolungamento
  164. quadrato
  165. raggio
  166. ramo
  167. rampa
  168. rampa privata
  169. rampari
  170. rampe
  171. ratto
  172. recinto
  173. regione
  174. rettifilo
  175. regaste
  176. riello
  177. rione
  178. rio
  179. rio terà
  180. ripa
  181. riva
  182. riviera
  183. rondò
  184. rotonda
  185. rua
  186. ruga
  187. rugheta
  188. sacca
  189. sagrato
  190. saia
  191. salita
  192. salita inferiore
  193. salita superiore
  194. salizada
  195. scalea
  196. scalette
  197. scalinata
  198. scalone
  199. scesa
  200. sdrucciolo
  201. selciato
  202. sentiero
  203. slargo
  204. sopportico
  205. sotoportego
  206. sottoportico
  207. spalto
  208. spiaggia
  209. spianata
  210. spiazzo
  211. strada
  212. strada accorciatoia
  213. strada alzaia
  214. strada antica
  215. strada arginale
  216. strada bassa
  217. strada cantoniera
  218. strada carrareccia
  219. strada consolare
  220. strada consortile
  221. strada consorziale
  222. strada di bonifica
  223. strada esterna
  224. strada inferiore
  225. strada intercomunale
  226. strada interna
  227. strada interpoderale
  228. strada litoranea
  229. strada militare
  230. strada nazionale
  231. strada panoramica
  232. strada pedonale
  233. strada perimetrale
  234. strada poderale
  235. strada privata
  236. strada provinciale
  237. strada regionale
  238. strada rotabile
  239. strada rurale
  240. strada traversante
  241. strada vicinale
  242. stradale
  243. stradella
  244. stradello
  245. stradetta
  246. stradone
  247. stradoncello
  248. stretta
  249. stretto
  250. strettoia
  251. strettola
  252. svoto
  253. supportico
  254. terrazza
  255. tondo
  256. traversa
  257. traversa privata
  258. traversale
  259. trasversale
  260. tratturo
  261. trazzera
  262. tresanda
  263. tronco
  264. vanella
  265. vallone
  266. via
  267. via accorciatoia
  268. via al mare
  269. via alta
  270. via alzaia
  271. via antica
  272. via arginale
  273. via bassa
  274. via circolare
  275. via comunale
  276. via consolare
  277. via cupa
  278. via destra
  279. via erta
  280. via estramurale
  281. via inferiore
  282. via intercomunale
  283. via interna
  284. via laterale
  285. via lungomare
  286. via militare
  287. via nazionale
  288. via nuova
  289. via pedonale
  290. via privata
  291. via provinciale
  292. via regionale
  293. via rotabile
  294. via rurale
  295. via sinistra
  296. via stretta
  297. via superiore
  298. via trasversale
  299. via vecchia
  300. via vicinale
  301. vial
  302. viale
  303. viale lungomare
  304. viale privato
  305. vialetto
  306. vialone
  307. vicinale
  308. vicoletto
  309. vicoletto cieco
  310. vicolo
  311. vicolo chiuso
  312. vicolo cieco
  313. vico
  314. vico estramurale
  315. vico inferiore
  316. vico lungo
  317. vico nuovo
  318. vico privato
  319. vico rotto
  320. vico storto
  321. vico stretto
  322. vico superiore
  323. viella
  324. vietta
  325. villaggio
  326. viottolo
  327. viuzza
  328. viuzzo
  329. vocabolo
  330. volti
  331. voltone
Now, let us see specifically what is the meaning and origin of such terms, and what criteria are (or should be) used to assign them to public spaces. We will limit ourselves to the use of the names and refrain from including urbanistic issues at large.

Common street types

The numerous, different types of public spaces can be thought of as belonging to two main categories: streets and squares. The former are developed along a main direction (length) and generally devoted to the transit of people or vehichles, while the latter feature a significant second dimension (width), are typical of urban areas, and are intended for social aggregation rather than simple transit.

Squares: “piazza” and the likes

Piazza Duomo a Lecce [CC-BY-SA-3.0 o GFDL]

2 – “Piazza Duomo”, Lecce (Apulia).

The piazza is a wide space in a urban environment in which the streets converge. The function of the piazza along the centuries has changed from a place for religious celebrations, to room for public markets, means for showing off wealth or power or rather a symbol for democracy (like the agorà in ancient Greece). Nowadays a piazza can be used for transit or temporary parking of vehichles, or for pedestrian circulation; it may seat public events like feasts, markets, expos, concerts. The items in this group are:
  • piazza (shorten p.zza): square, plaza. The most frequently encountered, identifies a space whose perimeter is completely marked by buildings. It comes from the Greek word PLATÝS, “wide”. Almost every single urban area in Italy has at least one piazza, which represents the focal point of the social life of the town itself. Normally house numbers in a piazza or similar are arranged clockwise.
    • piazza inferiore: lower piazza. This is a piazza placed at a lower elevation with respect to the centre, or to another reference point. Two piazzas in Genoa (“piazza inferiore del Roso”, “piazza inferiore di Pellicceria”) and one in Assisi (“piazza inferiore di S. Francesco”) feature this denomination due of being located in the lower part of the city. There also exist a few “piazza Inferiore”, where the adjective (lower) is actually the specific name.
    • piazza privata: privately-owned piazza. As suggested by the name, a piazza liyng on private ground (usually with same owners as the facing buildings), yet open to the public.
  • piazzale (shorten “p.le”): this is like a piazza, except it is not completely surrounded by buildings, i.e. it is free from buildings on at least one side (e.g, “piazzale Michelangelo” in Florence.) is a panoramic terrace.
  • piazzetta (shorten “p.tta”): small piazza, dim. form (-etta) of piazza, a small-sized one (e.g. “piazzetta Duca d’Aosta” a Napoli).
    • piazzetta privata: privately-owned piazzetta, same as piazza privata but smallest.
  • largo (“l.go”): literally meaning widening, this is similar to a piazza except the transit purposes prevail on social purposes. It can be formed at the crossing among two or more streets or due to an increase in width of an urban road, which «even without the importance nor the architectural features of a piazza, it still serves some of the purposes of this latter, especially in terms of traffic needs». (transl. from Treccani) The famous “Time Square” of New York, in Italian would be probably classified as a largo, more than a piazza. Some example of well–known italian largos are “largo Augusto” in Milan or “— del Nazareno” in Rome.
  • larghetto: less frequent, dim. form of  largo.

Urban roads: “via”, “viale”, “corso” and “vicolo”

In an urban area, a street usually takes the denomination of via, surely the most frequent type of urban road. Wider or important streets are usually referred to as viale o corso, while alleys are called vicolo. Normally house numbers are even on the one side and odd on the other, and increase from centre outwards.

  • via (shorten v.): street. This is the most frequent generic designation in Italy and indicates a wide range of urban public spaces devoted to transit. It derives from Latin viae, from which also “way”. In Italy almost every town has a street called “via Roma” as a result of a fascist imposition of 1931 to celebrating the capital (Rome). When preceded by the article la, it usually refers to a Roman Consular Road: e.g, “la Via Appia” (The Via Appia). The term via can brings with it a long series of variants and specification that can better clarify wich type of road refers:
    • via accorciatoiashortcut, offering a shorter path with respect to the main road. E.g. “via accorciatoia Stazione” in Furnari, Messina, Sicily.
    • via alta: higher via, higher in elevation than the urban centre or another street, opposite of via bassa.
    • via al mare: sea-side street. In Genoa, “via al mare Fabrizio De Andrè” is a →pier. Streets called “via Al Mare” are quite common in the coastal towns.
    • via alzaia: towpath street, urban section of →alzaia.
    • via anticaancient street, may indicate a former Roman road or otherwise a very old road.
    • via arginale: enbankment street, urban section of argine.
    • via bassa: lower street, lower in elevation than the urban centre or another street, opposite of via alta.
    • via cieca: literally blind via, meaning dead-end.
    • via circolare: ring-shaped street, a circular path (e.g. “via circolare Giotto” in Taurisano, Apulia).
    • via comunalemunicipal street, administrated by a municipality, as is the vast mayority of the urban roads in Italy. Therefore, this specification is most often unnecessary and so is rarely used.
    • via consolare: urban section of an ancient roman consular road.
    • via consortile: urban section of strada consortile.
    • via cupa: dark street, a gloomy, shady street (“via cupa dei Marmi”, Anzio) also called cupa.
    • via destrastreet on the right, a right branch, usually opposite to a via sinistra with the same “specific”.
    • via erta: steep street→erta.
    • via esternaouter street, wholly or partly outside the town.
    • via estramurale: hanging outside the (former) circle of fortified walls, aka →estramurale.
    • via inferiore: lower street. Similarly to via bassa, lower in elevation than another road (e.g. “via Rocca dei Corvi” and “via inferiore Rocca dei Corvi” in Genoa).
    • via intercomunale: former intercommunal road, see →strada intercomunale.
    • via internainner street, an internal (urban) branch of a road.
    • via laterale: branched street, a street alongside a main road, or a branch of this latter.
    • via lungomare: same as →lungomare.
    • via militaremilitary street, former military road (→strada militare).
    • via nazionale: state street, an urban section of a state road (→strada statale) or former one.
    • via nuova: new street, that replaces or complements a road no longer adequate to traffic.
    • via pedonalepedestrian street, reserved to pedestrian. However, the inclusion in a pedestrian-only zone usually does not affect the generic name of the road, so this term is rarely used.
    • via privataprivately-owned street, lying on private ground yet open to the public. Usually, it refers to dead-end lanes that provide access to private properties.
    • via provincialeprovincial street, urban section of a province-administrated road (→strada provinciale) or former one.
    • via regionale: regional street, (rare) urban section of a region-administrated road (→strada regionale) or former one.
    • via rotabile: driveable street, urban section of →strada rotabile or former one.
    • via rurale: rural street, see →strada rurale.
    • via sinistraleft street, a left branch, usually opposite to a →via sinistra.
    • via stretta: narrow street, remarkably tight street, lane (aka →stretta).
    • via superiore: upper street. Similarly to via alta, higher in elevation to another road.
    • via trasversale: cross street, crossing a main road (usually a provincial road), aka trasversale.
    • via vecchia: old street, a road replaced in its function as the main road by a more recent one, opposite to via nuova.).
    • via vicinale: local street, a former →strada vicinale (a type of privately-owned rural road) taken over by the town.
Viale Europa - Roma [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

3 – “viale Europa” in Rome (EUR)

  • viale (shorten “v.le”): avenue. This is an urban street, usually wide, lined by trees on either side.
    • viale lungomare: sea-side avenue, boardwalk. See →lungomare.
    • viale privato: privately-owned avenue, (rare) same meaning as →via privata, but tree-lined.
  • corso (shorten “”): main street, parade. This is a main central street, usually lined with shops, cafe and restaurants. E.g. “corso Vittorio Emanuele” in Turin. The term corso also appears as specific name, as is in the case of “via del Corso” found in Rome and Florence.
Vicolo centro storico ad Andria [CC-BY-SA-2.5]

4 – A “vicolo” in Andria.

  • vicolo (shorten “v.lo”): alley, lane. From Latin viculus, dim. of vicus, meaning “burg”, “hamlet”. It is a particularly narrow street between buildings, usually originates from medieval urban pattern.
    • vicolo chiuso: closed alley, dead-end. Found in Oliena (Sardinia) and Ferrara (Emilia Romagna).
    • vicolo cieco: lit. blind alley, dead-end. Found in Verona (“vicolo cieco Parigino”, “vicolo cieco Pozza”) and in some town of the province. More often dead-end alleys are called just vicolo like others.
  • vicoletto: small alley, dim. of vicolo found in Verona and Napoli, indicates a remarkably narrow or short vicolo.
    • vicoletto cieco: same as vicoletto, but dead-end like vicolo cieco.
  • vico: alley, lane. Syn. of vicolo, especially common in Liguria where designates a “caruggio”, the typical narrow and shady alleys of the old towns of the region, but found also in Campania (Napoli, Pozzuoli, Benevento), Carpino (Apulia), and Potenza (Basilicata, found only one: “vico Corrado”). Just like vicolo, it’s a derivative of Latin vicus, meaning “burg” or “ward”.
    • vico chiuso: closed vico, dead-end alley.
    • vico ciecodead-end vico, dead-end alley.
    • vico estramurale: hanging outside the (former) circle of fortified walls (example: “vico estramurale Ruvo” a Terlizzi, Apulia), see also →estramurale.
    • vico inferiore: lower vico. In Genova, it is the lower part of an alley with the same name (e.g.”vico Venoria” e “vico inferiore Venoria”). In opposition, an higher section would be called vico superiore.
    • vico lungo: long vico, a remarkably long alley.
    • vico nuovo: new vico, of more recent creation or renovation compared to others.
    • vico privato: privately-owned vico, same as →via privata.
    • vico rotto: broken vico, meaning both dead-end or also “interrupted” from the intersection with another road (Naples).
    • vico storto: bent vico, it has one or more curves (Napoli).
    • vico stretto: narrow vico, a remarkably tight alley.
    • vico superiore: higher vico. In Genova, it is the higher part of an alley with the same specific name (E.g: “vico superiore di campopisano” e “vico di campopisano”). In opposition, a lower section would be called vico inferiore.

Extra-urban roads

In an extra-urban area, a road usually takes the denomination of strada, although sometimes the terms are used interchangeably.

  • strada: road, is the most frequent generic designation in Italy for extra-urban road, sometimes can also designates a former road that was incorporated in the town area becoming an urban street. As like as via, it comes with a long series of variants and specification that can better clarify wich type of road refers:
    • strada accorciatoia: shortcut, same as →via accorciatoia.
    • strada alzaia: towpath road, same as alzaia.
    • strada antica: ancient road, may indicate a former Roman road or otherwise a very old road.
    • strada arginale: that lies on top of a levee, aka  argine.
    • strada bassa:  lower road, placed or reaching a lower elevation than others, same as →via bassa but usually outside the town.
    • strada cantoniera: from canto, meaning “corner”, “side” (form Vulgar Latin cantus). In Biella (Piedmont) is a side branch reaching a small group of buildings (e.g. “strada cantoniera Pietro”).
    • strada carraréccia: carriageway, from the adjective carrareccio, meaning “for wagons” or perhaps pejorative of carràia meaning driveable road. It is a country road originally intendend for wagons. Also called →carraia.
    • strada comunalemunicipal road, run by a municipality.
    • strada consolare: that lies on the route of an ancient Roman consular road.
    • strada consortile o consorziale: consortium road, built and mantained by a consortium of private entities with or without public participation, in order to supply the needs of the area or activity of interest by the consortium. It is therefore private roads, usually subject to public use and significant flow of traffic, e.g in industrial areas. Less relevant consortium road are called strada vicinale or strada di bonifica.
    • strada di bonificadrainage road, built by a consortium for the needs of maintenance of drainage or irrigation infrastructures, yet open to public use.
    • strada esternaouter road, that connects small hamlets in isolated areas.
    • strada inferiorelower road, lower in elevation than another road.
    • strada intercomunale: inter–municipal road, run jointly by two or more municipalities.
    • strada interna: inner road, same as →via interna.
    • strada interpoderale: syn. of strada vicinale.
    • strada litoraneacoastal road, that runs along the coast connecting different locations.
    • strada militare: built for military needs.
    • strada nazionale: state road, syn. of strada statale.
    • strada panoramica: scenic road, that offers a scenic view, usually coastal or mountain road.
    • strada pedonale: pedestrian road, same as via pedonale.
    • strada perimetrale: perimeter road, that follow a perimeter e.g. of a town (“strada perimetrale dietro isola”, isle of Pantellerias, more common as specific e.g. “strada perimetrale”).
    • strada poderale: farm road, that serve or cross a small farm, usually privately-owned just like strada vicinale.
    • strada privata: privately-owned road, same as vicinale.
    • strada provinciale (shorten SP): provincial road, usually state-owned road mantained by a province (provincia) is an administrative division of intermediate level between a municipality (comune) and a region (regione).
    • strada regionale: regional road, state-owned road mantained by a region, that is the first-level administrative divisions of Italy.
    • strada rotabile: driveable road, intended for veichles.
    • strada ruralerural road, small road in rural environment that could be privately or public owned.
    • strada statale (shorten “SS”): state road, a state-owned and managed arterial road.
    • strada traversante: same as strada trasversale, found nerby Parma (Emilia-Romagna).
    • strada vicinale: local road, from Latin vicinalis, meaning «which serves to neighbors, the inhabitants of the vicus». It is a rural road on private ground (usually with same owners as the facing lands), could be open to the public or not. The Italian legislative decree 185/1922 defines the vicinale as «privately-owned road, outside the town and subject to public use» (art. 3).

Peculiar or local designations

    • accesso: access, entry, a road that allows the access to a place. In Jesolo (Veneto), the accesso is a street leading to the beach (e.g. “accesso Milano”, “accesso Europa”); less relevant path are numbered instead of named. Found also “Accesso Piazza Nuova” in Foggia (Apulia) and “Accesso a via del Chiappazzo” in Genoa.
    • allea: avenue, from French allée, “gone”, past participle of aller «to go». In northern Italy is a syn. of →viale (e.g. “allea Comunale” in Turbigo, Lombardy; “allea Monterosa” in Romagnano Sesia, Piedmont). Allea is also an entry of the piedmontese dialect, meaning exactly “avenue”.
    • alinea: found only “alinea Forno” a Binetto (Apulia), the meaning is currently unknown.
    • androna: in Trieste and Gorizia (Friuli-Venezia Giulia region) this is a dead-end alley (e.g. “androna S.Saverio”, “androna S.Tecla” in Trieste). The term appears, in Latin, in the Istrian Diplomatic Code: «… desubtus adest androna…» (De Angelini, op. cit). Such as androne (meaning  “aisle”, “corridor”) the term androna is a derivative of the Greek andròn, indicating the part of the house formerly reserved for men. According to De Angelini, the androna was the outside part of the house, the one for males, in opposition to the inside part, traditionally domain of women. Androna was therefore considered an extension of the house, like a court, rather than a public alley.
    • angiporto: literally a covered walkway or alley through the body of a building, found in the medieval urban patterns, but more broadly a narrow alley. It is still in use in the province of Potenza (“angiporto Camera” and “— Pietrafesa”); in Cerami, Sicily (“angiporto S. Antonio”) and in Bovino, Apulia (“angiporto S. Procopio”). It comes from Latin angiportus, likely composed of angus hence Italian angusto (meaning “narrow”) and portus hence porto, “walkway”.
    • arco: arch, it comes with two different meanings:
      1. in Jesi (Marche) it is an alley of the historic centre passing through one or more archways in the buildings. Peculiar is the short “arco del Magistrato” that passing trought the cavaedium of an antique building.
      2. in Lignano Sabbiadoro (Veneto) it is instead one of the curved streets that are part of the “chiocciola” (snail), the quite famous spiral-shaped urban pattern that developes around a central plaza, designed in 1950s by architect Marcello D’Olivo. The avenues that cross the archi (pl.) perpendicularly, are called →raggio (pl.):
        The “snail” of Lignano Pineta.
    • arena: in Naples, it meant a wide sandy riverbed formed by a shallow creek. Nowaday, an arena is a street built on the former path of this riverbeds (e.g. “arena della Sanità” in Naples.
    • argine: leevee. It points out a road, usually extra-urban, that lies on the top of a leevee or rather an embankment built for river flood prevention. This latter could be built at a considerable distance from the river, so do not necessarily an argine is also a riverside road. It come also in the forms strada arginale e via arginale.
    • banchi: in Siena (Tuscany), “Banchi di Sopra” (higher banchi) and “Banchi di sotto” (lower banchi, aka “Strada Maestra”, i.e. main road) are the main streets of the historic centre. The origin of the term banchi (banks”) dates back to 13th century, when in this streets appeared the so-called banchi, in other words the shops of money-changers: the banchi were the first banking businnes in history, hence the term “bank”. There were also the so-called “noble shops”, i.e. commercial activities particularly valuable as drapers, jewelers, furriers and armorers.
    • belvedere: a place with somehow a scenic view. It could be a plaza (e.g. “belvedere Gerolamo da Passano” in Genoa) or a road (“belvedere Giacomo Puccini” in Viareggio).
    • bivio: fork (from Latin bivium) a road that forks or originates from a fork; found in Central Italy (Rome and Teramo).
  • borgo: burg, a street of medieval origin, found in Parma (“borgo della Posta”, “— San Giuseppe”…), Florence (“borgo Ognissanti”, “— San Jacopo”) and Vicenza (“borgo Scroffa”). It comes from the latin word bŭrgus earlier meaning “fortess”, later became “settlement” (from germanic burgs) meaning a neighborhoods formerly outside the city walls, but subsequently absorbed by the growth of the town. The term borgo once designated also fortified villages and survives in the name of some towns, e.g. Borgomanero (Piedmont).
  • cal: road, found in Veneto (“Cal de Medo” in Pieve di Soligo); peraphs from →calle.
  • cantone: a tiny street lined by buildings, but not as tight as a →vicolo,[1] found in Piacenza (“cantone del Cristo”) and surroundings (Borgonovo Val Tidone). Likely it derives from canto, in turn from Vulgar Latin cantus that means side, corner.
  • capo di piazza: ending of plaza, this is a street that run along the end of a piazza (capo means extremity, end). Found only two in Trieste: “capo di piazza G.Bartoli”, that run along the short side of the “piazza Unità d’Italia” opposite the waterfront, and “capo di piazza Monsignor Antonio Santin” that is the extension of the former.
  • carraia: carriageway, from Late Latin carraria, derivative of carrus or carrum, “carriage”. It is a rural road formerly intended for carriages, now found in the neighbourhood or Ravenna (“carraia Vangaticcio“). In the antique dialect of Pisa, carraia was a main road.
  • carrara: same as above, it’s a former carriageway. Found in Bisceglie (Apulia), carrara are rural roads (i.e. the original meaning of the term, es. “carrara Pantano”) but also could be incorporated in the urban area (es. “carrara Lamavelta“).
  • carrarone: augmentative (-one) of  carraia, in the neighbourhood or Ravenna this is a rural road (“carrarone Erboso“).
  • carro: carriage, carriageway. Same etymology as carraia, found in Trani as rural road (“carro S.Giovanni“).
  • cavone: in Naples and neighbourhood this is  a street that follow the path of a former cavone, that was a canal formed by the natural flow of rainwater from the inland to the sea (e.g. “cavone Case Puntellate”, “— delle Noci allo Scudillo” in Naples and “cavone del Purgatorio” in Somma Vesuviana).
chiasso Baroncelli a Firenze [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0]

5 – “Chiasso Baroncelli” in Florence.

  • chiasso: alley, from the Latin classis earlier meaning “subdivision”, later becomed “district”. It is a court, tight street or alley (→vicolo), often bounded by archs. Chiasso is typical particularly in Florence.
    • chiassétto: tight alley, dim. of chiasso, found in the Province of L’Aquila (Calascio, Rucoli, Tornimparte).  The term also is quite common as a specific (e.g. “via del Chiassetto”).
    • chiassuola: another dim. form of chiasso found in Masio, Piedmont (“chiassuola Torre”).
  • circonvallazione: ring road, from Late Latin circumvallatioonis. It is a road that encloses the historic centre or an urban core, facilitating traffic to bypass it. It usually follows the path of antiques chemin de ronde (French meanings “patrol paths”) from which the military guard patrolling the city walls; today are generally the demarcation between the old town and the inner suburban areas. For example “circonvallazione Ovest” in Milan, “— delle Valli” in Bergamo, “— Gianicolese” in Rome. Also comes as specific (“via Circumvallazione” and likes).
  • circumvallazione: ring road, variant form of circonvallazione used in Campania (“circumvallazione Provinciale di Napoli”). Also comes as specific (“via Circumvallazione”).
  • claustro: this is a particular (and famous) type of square typical of Altamura, in Apulia. These are very small squares, usually with only one inlet/outlet and irregular shape. Apart of the role of gathering places, it appears that these cul-the-sacs also had a defensive function: attacker would be trapped, no way out unless their own steps and, disoriented by the irregular pattern, they would become easy target for defenders wich would have been barricaded behind the windows of the buildings (“claustro La Giudecca”, “— Inferno”, “— Tradimento”…). The term claustro derives from Latin claustrum, that means enclosurecourtyard from wich derives also the current “cloister”.
  • complanare: coplanar road, a road that run along to a more important one. In Barletta e Trani (Apulia) the roads called “complanare Est” and “— Ovest” are parallel to the state road “16 Adriatica”, whereas the ones called “— Nord” and “— Sud” are parallel to state road “93 Appulo Lucana”.  There are also a “complanare Luigi Einaudi” in Modena, aside the highway () A1.
  • contrada (c.da): the origin is uncertain but seems to be a derivated from Latin contra, meaning something that “stands opposite”; it usually refers to a subdivision (e.g. a quarter) but it’s common through the peninsula with different meanings. In the cities of the Northern Italy, before Italian unification (19th century) it was common for streets, especially in Lombardy (e.g. Milan, Pavia); this designation is still in use in the historic centres of Brescia and Vicenza (also in the truncated form contrà), as well as in some towns in the surroundings of the Como Lake and Mantua. In Southern Italy a contrada can be both a rural road with scattered buildings (Sicily, Apulia) or an hamlet (vedi →contrada, place).
  • contrà: truncated form of contrada, common in Vicenza.
  • corsetto: dim. of →corso, found only in Brescia (“corsetto di S.Agata”).
  • corsìa: syn. of corso, found in Rome (“corsia Agonale”, near “piazza Navona), Brescia (“corsia del Gambero”) e Santa Maria Hoe’, Apulia (“corsia Mercato”). In pre–unification era (19th century), it was also common in Milan for “corso”.
  • corte: courtyard (from Latin cōrs “court”, “area pertaining to the villa”), a type of small square obtained from a former courtyard of a building, usually with inlet through the body of this latter. Found in Bologna (“corte De Galluzzi”, “— Isolani”), Venezia (cfr. →Venetian corte). In Apulia (Lecce, Galatina, Taviano, Melendugno) it is a widening or a dead-end alley (e.g. “corte dei Genovesi”).
  • corticella: small courtyard, dim. of corte. In Verona, is an alley that ends with a single inlet/outlet widening (e.g. “corticella Fondachetto”).
  • cortile: courtyard, similarly to corte (from wich it derives) it is actually a small square or widening obtained from adjacent space of buildings. Found especially Sicily (Palermo, Avola: e.g. “cortile Rinaldo“), there are some cortile also in the province of Naples (San Giorgio Cremano, Ercolano, Portici). There is a recently formed plaza designated as cortile also in Piove di Sacco (Friuli-Venezia Giulia).
    • cortile privato: privately-owned courtyard, lying on private-owned area but bound to public use (just like →piazza privata). Found in Portici (Naples), Bitonto (Apulia) and Cernusco sul Naviglio (Lombardy).
Una crosa [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

6 – Una tipica crêuza genovese.

  • crosa: this is a type of road typical of the area of Genoa and surroundings (aka the “Genovesato”). A crosa (crêuza in Ligurian dialect) has very specific characteristics: it must be paved with bricks in the middle and round pebbles on the sides, is usually sloping and could be stepped in the steeper sections. Generally, the path follows the ridges avoiding watersheds, in order to limit the risk of flooding and therefore the need for drainage works. The Ligurian term crêuza, whence Italian crosa, derives from Medieval Latin crosus whose origin is uncertain. In Ligurian dialect, a crêuza de mä is a crosa that run seawards (mä = “sea”). Italian singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André titled Crêuza de mä his 1984 album.
  • crocicchio: intersection, crossroadscrossing. Found only “crocicchio Cortogna” in Lugano, Switzerland, that is a cross-shaped alley.
  • cupa: dark, gloomy street. In Naples it is tipically a road that lies on the path of a former canal as like as cavone, but particularly sunken so the street results shaded, scarcely lit by the sun. More generally, a cupa could be a street however shaded (e.g. by buildings) and gloomy, for example “cupa Caiafa” in Naples. It comes also in the form via cupa.
  • diramazione: branch, that splits from another road (e.g. “diramazione S. Marco” in S. Andrea di Conza, Campania; “diramazione Due Muri” in Reggio Calabria).
  • distacco: detachment. There’s only “distacco di piazza Marsala” that is an extension of “Piazza Marsala”.
  • emiciclo: semi cycle. In Naples, it a circular or semi circular shaped square (“emiciclo Capodimonte“; “emiciclo Poggioreale“).
  • estramurale: extramural, a road outside the former fortified wall of the old town. It comes also in the forms via – or vicolo estramurale.
  • fondaco: in Naples only, this is a street or alley where there was a fondaco. This latter, from arab فندق funduq meaning “warehouse”, was a type of building typical of the seaside town of the Mediterranean basin (e.g. Genoa, Naples, Venice). A fondaco was a big warehouse with accomodations and facilities for traveling merchants. The fondaci (pl.) of Naples was well-known for decadence and hotbeds of infections.
  • fondo: acreage. In Palermo this is a suburban way, probably alluding to former fondo (lat. fŭndus) that is an acreage.
  • foro: from Latin forum (square), this designation highlights the monumental or scenic nature of a space (usually an avenue). “Foro Buonaparte” in Milan is an avenue surrounding the Sforza Castle. In Sicily, “foro Italico Umberto I” in Palermo and “foro Vittorio Emanuele II” in Siracusa are seaside promenades.
  • fossa: ditch, trench or also tank, somewhat deep and wide. There is only “fossa Bagni“, named after a former municipal baths resort built there in 1882 (bagni = baths).
  • granviale: broad avenue, augmentative of viale (gran–). Found only “granviale Santa Maria Elisabetta” in Lido di Venezia (Venice).
  • lateralebranch, syn. of diramazione.
  • lido: beach. In Terracina (Lazio), this is a dead-end road perpendicular to the coastline, that branch off seaward from a main road. Aka  riva (“shore”).
  • litoranea: coastal road, same as strada litoranea, especially in southern Italy (e.g. “litoranea Salentina”).
  • parallela: that runs parallel to a more important road wit the same name. If there are more than one parallela, these can be numbered (“parallela I”, “parallela II…”).
passeggiata mura, Lucca [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

7 – passeggiata Mura, Lucca

  • passeggiata: promenade, a quiet pedestrian road intended for walk, normally in a park or panoramic place (e.g. “passeggiata Mura” in Lucca, Tuscany; “passeggiata di Gianicolo” in Rome).
  • passeggio: stroll. Found only “passeggio Giuseppe Garibadi” in Torrita di Siena (Tuscany) that is a ring road that encircles the walls of the old town (cfr. →circonvallazione).
  • passo: passage, generally a pedestrian passage connecting two streets (e.g. “passo B. Assereto” in Recco, Liguria), including those in Genoa that are →stairways.
  • passo di piazza: (lit. “passage of the square”) this is a short passage between two squares (piazza). There’s only “passo di piazza Antonio Fonda Savio” in Trieste, that is a street connecting “piazza Giuseppe Verdi” with “piazza Unità d’Italia”.
  • portico: colonnade. In Avola (Sicily) it is courtyard, just like cortile  or vanella (e.g. “portico Aliffi“, “— Gubernale” ). In Oristano (Sardinia), “portico G. Corrias” is a street passing through a building.
  • prato: lawn, from Latin pratum, that in Roman era and early Middle Age designated a wide clearing used for market an fairs, and where could grow grass: whence the term prato, meaning “lawn”. “Prato della Valle” in Padova is one of the largest squares in Europe.
  • prolungamento: extension, this is an extension of another road, generally named after this latter (e.g. “prolungamento viale Libertà”, where “viale Libertà” is the main rd.); it can also have its own specific (e.g. “prolungamento Pigna” in Giugliano, Campania).
  • quadrato: square, (rare) rectangular shaped piazza. “Quadrato della Concordia” in Rome is a large, square-shaped plaza surrounding the so–called “Square Colosseum“, an icon of fascist architecture. “Quadrato Frasso” in Sassari (Sardinia) is a very small square.
  • raggio: radius. This is one of those a street that originate from the centre of the so–called “snail”, the spiral-shaped urban pattern of Lignano Pineta (see →arco), and run seaward.
  • rettifilo: straight, a long and straight road. Found only “rettifilo Garibaldi” in Licata (Sicily), that is a urban section of  state road 123, but we can find it also as specific (e.g. “via Rettifilo”) with the same meaning. Eventually, “Corso Umberto I” in Naples is also called “Rettifilo”.
  • recinto: enclosure, fence. In the historic centre of Matera this is an alley. It derives from the typical walled courtyards of this city.
  • rione: this is the main street of a rione, that is a district or a place. Found nearby Macerata, in Marche in San Ginesio (“rione di Porta Ascarana”) and Pollenza (“Rione Pollenza Scalo”). Just like →regione, it derives from Latino regio -ōnis meaning “territorio, regione». The districts of Rome are also called rioni (pl.) in reference to the 14 municipal subdivision (regiones, exactly) dating back to emperor Augusto (63 a.C. – 14 d.C.); further that rione became syn. of quartiere (quarter, district) in several cities.
  • riva: shore, bank, a road running along (or toward) a bank. In Terracina (Lazio) this is a road seaward, syn. of lido; “riva di Pian Due Torri” in Rome is a cycle lane that run along the Tiber river. In Venice, it is a quay (→riva, Venezia). In Verona, “riva S. Lorenzo” is a street along the Adige river.
  • rondò: roundabout, from French rondeau. At least “rondò della Battaglia” in Mortara has its own house numbers.
  • rotonda: roundabout, circle. This is a circular shaped plaza, usually coinciding with a traffic roundabout (e.g. “rotonda dei Mille” in Bergamo, Lombardy).
  • rua: street or alley. It derives from Latin rūga, whence also the French rue and then the Venetian →ruga. Found in the historic centres of Ascoli Piceno (Marche), Brescia (Lombardy) and Modena (Emilia Romagna). In Palermo (Sicily) there were several “rua” that date back to the Middle Ages, of which remained only “rua Formaggi”.
  • sagrato: churchyard, parvis. This is a space of direct relevance of a church, usually consecrated (from sacràtus, past participle of sacràre, “make sacred”).[2] It may coincide with a plaza (“Sagrato del Santuario” in Ardesio, Lombardy).
  • saia:in Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto (Sicily), this is a road that follows the path of a (former) “saia”, i.e. a stream or a canal (from Arab sāqiyya whence the Sicilian saia[3]).
  • selciato: pavement, stone paved road, from selce, flint (found only “selciato S. Stefano” and “selciato Mantegna” a Cadoneghe, Veneto). Fairly widespread as specific (e.g. “via Selciata”, “vico Selciato”).
  • sentierotrail, path, a track with no pavement or particular works, whose path is traced by the passage of people and animals; street or road that lies on the path of a former trail (“sentiero Fringuello” in Genoa).
  • slargo: widening, (rare) syn. of →largo (e.g. “slargo Vittime della Strada” a Quarrata, Tuscany).
  • sobborgo: suburb, this is the main road of a suburb, i.e. a former hamlet located in the neighborhood of a city center (from Latin suburbium: from sub-, “below”, and urbs, “city”); found in Cesena (e.g. “sobborgo F. Comandini”).
  • spiaggia: beach, street or alley seaward, nearby Naples (e.g. “spiaggia del Fronte” in Torre Del Greco, “spiaggia dei Pescatori” in Ischia).
  • spianata: clearing, esplanade, a free and flat area. “Spianata della Fiera” in Romagnano Sesia (Piedmont) is an Avenue along the river Sesia. “Spianata L. Varese” in Imperia (Liguria) is a promenade facing the sea. “Spianata Castelletto” in Genoa is the “collective” toponym for the streets of the neighborhood Castelletto, located on a hill overlooking the historic centre. In Livorno there was “spianata dei Cavalleggeri“, now called “viale Italia”.
  • spiazzo: clearing, commonly meaning “a free and flat area”. In southern Italy (Sicily, Calabria, Apulia) is quiet common as syn. of →largo (e.g. “spiazzo de Fazio“, Francavilla Fontana).
  • stradale: (from strada) a wide and three-lined country road: just like a viale, but outside the city.
  • stradella: (dim. of strada) small road, lane, alley. Especially common in Vicenza and Bari.
  • stradello: (dim. of strada) small road, mostly found in Emilia-Romagna.
  • stradetta: (dim. of stradalane; rare (only “stradetta Trello” in Lovere, Lombardy) but it comes also as specific (“via Stradetta” and likes).
Stradone San Fermo, Verona [CC-BY-SA-3.0 o GFDL]

8 – “Stradone San Fermo” in Verona.

  • stradone: (augmentative strada) main street. Common in the centre of Verona, “stradone S.Fermo” (8) is the main road of the city; found also in Genoa (“stradone S.Agostino”) and Piacenza (“stradone Farnese”).
  • stradoncello: (dim. of stradone) road, rare (only “stradoncello Pianta“, a rural road near Lugo, Emilia Romagna) but it comes also as specific: “via Stradoncello” and likes.
  • stretta: narrow, particularly tight alley.
  • stretto: narrow, a tight rural road; found in Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto (Sicily).
  • strettoia: narrowbottleneck, a tight street; found especially in Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto (Sicily).
  • strettola: an alley or a tight street; in Naples (“strettola S.Anna alle Paludi”) and San Marzano di S.Giuseppe, Apulia (“strettola Monte”).
  • svoto: small rural road, in the countryside of Modena.
  • trasversale: cross street, that cross a more important road, usually a provincial one (aka via trasversale).
  • traversa: cross street, that cross another street or also a square (e.g. “traversa degli Operai” in Genoa; “traversa di Piazza Santa Croce” in Naples). If there are more than one, they could be numbered (“I traversa Due Portoni” or “traversa II via Lunga”). In Prato (Tuscany) “traversa Pistoiese” is a long street that cross the entire town perpendicularly to the provincial road.
    • traversa privata: that lies on private ground, just like →strada privata (found in Naples: “traversa privata Acquedotto Campano”).
  • traversale: cross street, generally a road or street that cross another way.
  • tratturo: in Apulia, a street/road that follows the path of a former tratturo, i.e. a wide track created by the passage of the herds (e.g. “tratturo Castiglione” in Foggia).
  • trazzera: in Sicily this is a rural road (e.g. “trazzera Vignazza” in Monreale); perhaps from Latin tractus.
  • tresanda: (from antique Lombard language) lane, path;[4] in Brescia i.e. an alley (e.g. “tresanda del Sale”, “tresanda S.Nicola”).
  • tondo: circle. There’s only “tondo di Capodimonte” in Naples, that is a well known elliptical-shaped square, designed in 19th century by Italian architect Antonio Niccolini as a part of the road that would connect the city centre with the Palace of Capodimonte.
  • tronco:  dead-end branch of a street.
  • vallone: in Naples, a deep and narrow valley, and thus the road that run through it (“vallone Saliscendi” and “vallone del Gerolomini”).
  • vanella: in southern Italy this is a «small atrium besides or behind a building, interior courtyard»,[5] a vestibule. Just like →cortile, it refers to adjacent areas of buildings. “Vanella Mazzacane”, in Ruvo di Puglia (Apulia) is a internal courtyard.whereas in Modica (Sicily) they call vanella small outlying road that are numbered (e.g. “vanella 11”, “vanella 40”, ecc.).
  • vial: rare (from viale), wide and tree–lined road, stradale (found only “vial Grande” in Pordenone).
  • vialetto: (dimin. of viale) a small lane lined with villas, found only in the “garden city” of Milano Marittima, near Cervia.
  • vialone: rare, road. Although it may seem to be an augmentative of →viale, it could derive instead from Latin vicus (as like as →strada vicinale). Found only “vialone Rocca Cassano” in Roccabascerana (Campania).
  • vicinale: syn. of strada vicinale.
  • viella: small street (dimin. of →via), found in Campania and Sicily.
  • vietta: small street, (dimin. form of via), found in Viareggio (“vietta dei comparini”) in the Italian-speaking area of Switzerland (Cantone dei Grigioni).
  • viottolo: lane, passageway, or also path. This is a small street/road (“viottolo S.Francesco”in Brescello, Emilia Romagna).
  • viuzza: small street, lane (dim. form of via), found in S.Croce Sull’Arno (Tuscany) and in the province of Udine (Friuli-Venezia Giulia).
  • viuzzo: alley, in Florence (Tuscany) syn. of →vicolo.

City walls: “bastioni”, “mura” and likes

These are roads that originate from defensive structures, similarly to the French boulevards:

  • baluardo: bulwarks, this is a street that lies on the former path of this. The term derives from Proto-Germanic bol, bohl (=beam, board) + werk, wert (=building) from wich derives also the french boulevard, that is current also in english street names. Baluardo is used in Piedmont (Novara,  S.Damiano d’Asti).
  • bastioni: bastions (pl.)a street that lies on the path of a defensive wall (bastion). Currently used in plural (-i): e.g. “bastioni Porta Nuova” and “— Porta Venezia” in Milan, “bastioni di Soncino” in Soncino. Quite famous are the bastioni of Alghero in Sardinia, that are a part of 16th century catalan defensive walls overlooking the sea: the promenades on top of them are also called bastioni (“bastioni Colombo” and “— Marco Polo”).
    • bastione: singular form of bastioni, found only in Treviso “bastione S.Paolo”.
  • mura: city walls (pl.), in Genoa this is a the street that lies on top the former city walls  (e.g. “mura di Malapaga”, “mura della Marina”).
  • rampari: ramparts (pl.) In Ferrara (Emilia Romagna), those is a boulevard that follows the path of the city walls. It derives from ramparo, “rampart”, that is a enbankment wich had the funtion of protecting the walls from artillery.
  • spalto: battlement, in Alessandria (Piedmont) these are boulevards embracing the historic center. It derives from spalto, that was an embankment protecting the patrol path around the walls. (see also →circonvallazione).

Bank roads and quays

The streets that run along a waterfront are usually characterized by asymmetrical section, as they are built on one side only and free on the other. Often, they have a pedestrian promenade on the free side.

  • alzaia: towpath,  a road run along a canal from where the boats were towed by animal or tractors. Indeed, alzaia or alzana was the towrope, from Latin helciarius «who pulls the boat» and Italian alzare (to lift). These are usually the former towpath of the waterways of Lombardy (called navigli): for examples “alzaia Naviglio Grande” e “alzaia naviglio pavese” a Milano. It comes also as specific (e.g. “via Alzaia”).
  • banchina: quay, a road that run along a wharf built on the edge of water; found in coastal towns.
Calata Cuneo [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

9 – calata G.B. Cuneo a Oneglia (Imperia)

  • calata: this is a dock originally intended for the direct embarkation or disembarkation of goods from merchant ships (from calare, “to lower”), used in many coastal town such ad Genoa and surrounding, Imperia, Livorno, Taranto. In some towns (e.g. Naples) it rather means “descent”: see →calata (descent).
  • fossato ditch: in Genoa, this is a street that runs along a canal that is a residual section of the so-called “historic acqueduct”. There are three, named after the respective canals: “fossato di Cicala”, “fossato di Montesignano”, “fossato di San Niccolò”.
  • molo: jetty, dock, a street that runs along a dock. Found in Trieste (“molo Fratelli Bandiera”), Portofino (Liguria) and Alghero (Sardinia).
  • murazzi del Po: this is a type of street typical of Turin. It consists of a quay along the river Po, located at the base of the imposing walls built in 19th century to protect the city centre from floods. These walls, called muri or murazzi (in Piedmontese: ij murass), had characteristic arches that were used as sheds for fishing boats. With the urban renewal of the area started in 1970s, these boatsheds have been converted into pubs or cafe and the docks have become promenades (“murazzi del Po Giuseppe Farassino” and “Ferdinando Buscaglione”).
    Murazzi del Po (foto: S. Dell'Acqua)

    10 – “Murazzi del Po Giuseppe Farassino” in Turin (foto: S. Dell’Acqua)

  • porto: port, found only “porto di Ripa Grande” that is a section of the riverfront avenues along the Tiber (cfr. lungotevere), named after the former river port of the city.
  • ripa: bank, in Milan “ripa di Porta Ticinese” is a wide bank road that run along Naviglio Grande (cfr. →alzaia).
  • riviera: shorecoastline. In Padova (Veneto) these are the bank roads that line the canals form north to south. After the burial of the canal, some riviera have become normal city streets. Treviso for two riverfront along the Sile. Riviera also means “coastline” and so in Naples, “riviera di Chiaia” is a boulevard that flanks a wide seafront city park. In Gallipoli (Apulia), riviera are the the seafront promenades on top of the antique walls that enclose the historic centre.
  • regaste: in Verona is a riverfront protected by a wall along the Adige river.[6] There are “regaste di S.Zeno” and “regaste Redentore”, besides of a “vicolo Rigaste Orti”. Other riverfronts in Verona are called lungadige or riva.
  • scali: seaports (pl.), these are the streets along the canals and the harbour of Livorno (Tuscany); it is plural of scalo and always is used in plural form (e.g. “scali Manzoni”).
  • terrazza: is wide promenade along the sea or river, from Vulgar Latin terracia, earlier meaning a «rise of ground supported by walls, to stroll or observe». The only one having house numbers is “terrazza della Repubblica” on the seaside of Viareggio (Tuscany); quite famous is also “terrazza Mascagni” in Livorno.

The “lunghi”

Is quite frequent that the name of a road is composed of the prefix lungo-, menaning “along”, followed by a generic definition (as –fiume for “river”) or by name of a place to wich the road run alongside (as –tevere for Tiber river). Ther is a long list of such names:

  • lungo: street or road that runs along a place, as further specified by the specific name. “Lungo Sesia” in Romagnano Sesia (Piedmont) and “lungo Polcevera” in Genoa are roads that line respectively the river Sesia and the ravine Polcevera; “lungo Piazza d’Armi” in Chivasso (Piedmont) flanks the square called “Piazza d’Armi” (i.e. “parade ground”); “lungo Ferrovia” in Bianco (Calabria) runs along the railway (ferrovia = railway).
  • lungocanale: that run along a canal (“lungocanale Est” and “Ovest” in Viareggio, (Tuscany) along the Burlamacca canal; “lungocanale Nazioni Unite” in Castano Primo (Lombardy) on Villoresi canal.
    • lungoargine: in Padova, this is a street that runs along one of the city canals, especially the “Tronco Maestro”, “Naviglio Interno” and “Canale Piovego” (e.g. “lungoargine Terranegra”). The most centrale ones are called →riviere.
    • lungolinea: only in Terracina, “lungolinea Pio VI” runs along the Linea canal.
  • lungofiume: riverside, this is a road or street that run along a river (fiume = river; e.g. “lungofiume Tanagro” in Polla, Sicily; “lungofiume Quadrone” in Faenza, Emilia Romagna). This term is used also in common speaking and as specific (“viale lungofiume” or likes). It comes with a long series of local variants in which the word -fiume (river) is replaced by the proper name of the watercourse:
    • lungadige o lungoadige: that runs along the Adige river. There are 14 in Verona (e.g. “lungoadige Cangrande”), one in Bussolengo (“lungadige Trento”) and in Parona (“lungadige Attiraglio”).
      Lungarno a Pisa [GFDL o CC-BY-SA-3.0]

      11 – Un lungarno a Pisa.

    • lungarno: along the Arno. There are 22 in Florence and 13 in Pisa, this latter are characterized by the stone and bricks walls called spallette. Well-known are “lungarno degli Acciaiuoli” in Florence and “lungarno Pacinotti” in Pisa.
    • lungoadda: along the Adda, found in Lodi and Tirano (Lombardy).
    • lungo Brenta: along the Brenta. In Borgo Valsugana (Trentino), “Lungo Brenta Trento” and “- Trieste” are colonnades along the river, a peculiar characteristic of the town (look like the Venetian →sotoportego)[7]
    • lungobusento: that runs along the Busento, found 2 in Cosenza (Calabria).
    • lungocalore: along the Calore Irpino river; found only “lungocalore Manfredi di Svevia” in Benevento (Campania).
    • lungocrati: along the Crati, found 5 in Cosenza.
    • lungodora (also written lungo Dora): along the Dora Riparia river, found six in Turin.
    • lungofoglia: along the Foglia; found only “lungofoglia Caboto” and “— Nazioni” in Pesaro (Marche).
    • lungofrigido: along the Frigido; found only “lungofrigido Levante” and “—Ponente” in Massa Carrara (Tuscany).
    • lungoisarco or lungo Isarco: along the Isarco; found “lungoisarco Destro” and “— Sinistro” both in Bolzano and Bressanone (Alto Adige).
    • lungoliri: along the Liri; found 4 in Sora and one in Pontecorvo (Lazio).
    • lungomazaro: along the Mazaro; only “lungomazaro Ducezio” in Mazara del Vallo (Sicily).
    • lungonera: along the Nera; found 4 in Terni (Umbria).
    • lungo Po: along the Po river; found 4 in Turin.
    • lungosabato: along the Sabato; found 2 in Benevento (“lungosabato Riccardo Bacchelli” and “— Don Emilio Matarrazzo”).
    • lungosile: along the Sile (only “lungosile Mattei” in Treviso, Veneto).
    • lungostura: along the Stura; found 2 in Turin, 2 in Ovada and one in Cuneo (Piedmont).
    • lungotanaro: along the Tanaro; found 3 in Alessandria (Piedmont).
    • lungotevere: along the Tevere (Tiber); there are 43 in Rome.
    • lungoticino: along the Ticino (Tessin), found 2 in Pavia (“lungoticino Visconti” and “— Sforza”, there was also “lungoticino di Destra” now named “via Milazzo”).
    • lungotronto: along the Tronto (only “lungotronto Emidio Bartolomei” in Ascoli Piceno, Marche).
    • lungovelino: along the Velino river (“lungovelino Don Gianni Olivieri” and “– Bellagamba” in Rieti, Lazio).
  • lungolago: lakeside, a road or street that rounds a lake, fairly widespread along the lakes of Northern Italy.
    • lungolario: that runs along the Lario, that is the Latin name of the Lake Como; found in Como, Lecco and Bellagio (Lombardy).
  • lungomare: that run along the sea, usually a promenade; found in almost every coastal town.
  • lungomolo: that runs along a quay (molo), there is only “lungomolo Corrado Del Greco” in Viareggio.
  • lungoparco: that run along a city park, found only “lungoparco Gropallo” in Genoa.
  • lungoporto: that run along a port, found only “lungoporto Gramsci” in Civitavecchia (Lazio).
  • lungotorrente: that run along a stream, found in Liguria (“lungotorrente Secca”, “— Verde” in Genoa; “– Scrivia” in Savignone). As like as →lungofiume, it comes in local variants that specify the name of the stream:
    • lungobisagno: along the Bisagno, found 2 in Genoa.
    • lungo Castellano: along the Castellano (only “lungo Castellano Sisto V” in Ascoli Piceno).
    • lungocurone: along the Curone (“lungocurone G. Baravalle” and “– Giacomo Matteotti” in Volpedo, Piedmont).
    • lungogesso: along the Gesso (“lungogesso Papa Giovanni XXIII” in Cuneo, Piedmont).
    • lungoisonzo: along the Isonzo (only “lungoisonzo Argentina” in Gorizia, Friuli–Venezia Giulia).
    • lungomallero: along the Mallero; found 3 in Forcola (Lombardy).
    • lungomalone: along the Malone (only “lungomalone Palmiro Togliatti” in San Benigno Canavese, Piedmont).
    • lungotalvera: along the Talvera (“lungotalvera S. Quirino” and “— Bolzano” in Bolzano (South Tyrol).
  • Slopes: “salite”, “discese” and likes

    Streets characterized by an appreciable slope over the entire length are commonly called discesa (descent) or salita (climb). Despite it goes without saying that an uphill becomes a descent when viewed from the other side, apparently there is no a univocal rule according to wich a sloping road should be defined discesa or salita.

    • discesa: descent, this is a sloping street (e.g. “discesa San Nicolosio” in Genoa; “discesa Marechiaro” in Naples).
    • salita: climb, just like →discesa this is a sloping street, sometimes even →stepped.
      • salita inferiore and salita superiore: in Genoa, the sloping streets that cross the “Circonvallazione a Monte” (i.e. a ring-road) are called “salita inferiore” (lower climb) or “salita superiore” (upper climb) depending wich are upline or downline of the former.
    • calata: descent, syn. of →discesa (e.g. “calata Torre Rabatana” a Tricarico). In particular, in Naples a calata is a wide an important descent (e.g. “calata della Trinità Maggiore”). In Genoa and Livorno is actually a quay: see →calata (quay).
    • costa: slope, in Jesi (Marche) these are the alleys (some of wich are stepped) that goes up along the climb of the hill, towards the walled historic centre.
    • clivio or clivo: slope or hill (from Latin clivium, “hill”) in Rome is a sloping street (e.g. “clivio delle Mura Vaticane”, that includes a stepped section, “clivio di Rocca Savella” e “clivo Rutario”.
    • erta: a very steep street (e.g. “erta S.Domenico” in Milazzo ME; “erta dei Pruni” in Trieste).
    • pendice: downward slope, hillside, a gently sloping street; found only “pendice dello Scoglietto” in Trieste.
    • pendino: (from the verb pendere, “to lean”) in Naples these are some streets descending seawards[8] (e.g. “pendino Santa Barbara”), named after the area called “pendino” (where is the city of Naples) since the ground leans (pende) towards the sea. Pendino is still the name of a quarter of historic centre.
      • penninata: descent, from pendino. There is only “penninata San Gennaro dei Poveri” that is a very long stairway. From pendino derived also the terms pennino and appennino, not longer in use.
    • pendìo: slope, same as →discesa; found in Apulia, especially in Biscegle but also in Adria and Taranto.
    • piaggia: sloping street, even stepped (from Medieval Latin plagia meaning «slope, hillside») found in Tuscany, Umbria and Marche regions (e.g. “piaggia San Martino” in Arezzo; “piaggia Colombata”in Perugia).
    • ratto: found only in Trieste, a particularly steep lane. From the Triestine Dialect rato, meaning climb, which derives from Latin rapidus. Documented use of the designation ratto in the toponymy of Trieste dates back to 1910 with “Ratto della Pileria”,[9] now called “via G. Palatucci”. Today only “Ratto dei Mandrieri” survives.
    • scesa: descent, equivalent to discesa from which derives.
    • sdruccioloslope, found in Tuscany (es. “sdrucciolo dei Pitti”; Pontremoli, Radda in Chianti, Rosignano Marino, Sestino. In Calcinaia (Tuscany) “sdrucciolo del Duomo” is an entire sloping square.
    • rampa: ramp, short and steep climb, even →stairway; in Campania (usually climbs, in Avellino, Napoli, Pollena Trocchia), Rome (stairways), Potenza (both climbs or stairways).
      • rampa privata: (Naples) on private ground, just like →via privata.
      • rampe: ramps (pl. of rampa), in Naples is a street characterized by a series of climbs and a tortuous path (e.g. “rampe S.Antonio a Posillipo”, “rampe Brancaccio”).

    Stepped streets

    Some sloping street can be stepped to facilitate the ascent and descent. These are mainly of two types: stairwais that have short and regular steps (gradini, scalinata), and those that have long and often uneven steps (gradoni, gradinata).

    Via gradinata a Monterosso (SP) [GFDL o CC-BY-SA-3.0]

    12 – “Gradoni” in an alley of Monterosso (Liguria).

    • gradinata: long–stepped stair, this is a street shaped in short–rise steps (called gradoni), that are longer and less uniform than regular steps. This is the most proper sense, but it is commonly referred also to as →scalinata.
    • gradini: steps, in Naples this is a public staircase, (→scalinata). The city is characterized by a system of stairs and steps.
    • gradoni: short–rise steps, this is longstepped street like a →gradinata.
    • rampa: flight of stepsramp, in Rome and Potenza this is a stairway; in Campania it is usually a slope, see →rampa (slope).
    • scalea: in Rome, a particularly wide stairway (“scalea Andrea il Moro” and “— Ugo Bassi”).
    • scalette: stepladders, small stairways; this is usually an alley characterized by alternate flights of steps and landings or straight sections (e.g. “scalette Zilath” in Chiusi, Tuscany; in Sardinia, e.g. “scalette di Santa Chiara” in Cagliari, “scalette del Teatro”). In Verona scalette is an alley with few steps (“scalette San Marco” and “— Pellicciai”).
    • scalinata: stairway, steps, staircase, it is a public stairway with regular steps, whose size and importance can vary from an alley to the monumental staircase as the famous “scalinata Trinità dei Monti” in Rome. If steps are long and uneven, it should be called →gradinata but in fact the two terms are often used interchangeably.
    • scalone: wide stairway, staircase, (augmentative of scala, “stair”), long or wide stepped street, it can be both a stair (“scalone Cairoli” in Belgirate, Lombardy) or a long–stepped one (“scalone Castel S. Pietro” in Verona).

    Covered ways

    • archivolto: in Genoa, this is a vault–shaped covered alley passing through the body of a building (from Latin arcus volutus, “arched vault”). Broadly speaking, an archivolto (“archivolt”), aka voussure, is an ornamental molding or band following the curve on the underside of an arch
    • galleria: arcade, an indoor →corso with shops and cafes. The most important ones are covered in magnificent glass wings (“galleria Alberto Sordi” in Rome, “— Vittorio Emanuele II” in Milan, “— Umberto I” in Naples), those a bit’ more modest are passages through the body of buildings, as like as →passaggio.
    • passaggio: passage, that pass through something; alleyway. This is usually a covered way passing through the body of a building, less important than a galleria. In some cases it may be understood as “suitable for passing”, such as “passaggio Aretusa” in Siracusa (Sicily) that is an alleyway facing the sea, or “passaggio Castel Dell’Ovo” in Naples that is a bridge reaching the Megaride islet.
    • sottoportico: porch, colonnade, this is a covered passage through an arch or the body of a building. It comes also in two spelling variants:
      • sopportico: rare (e.g. “sopportico Educandato” a Chieti);
      • supportico: found in Campania and Molise.

      In Venice it is called →sotoportego (from Venetian dialect).

    • volti: this is a portico, i.e. a colonnade, a covered walk. There is only “volti di Chiozza” in Trieste, that is a portico facing on “via Cesare Battisti”; it also has its own street numbers.
    • voltone: vault, vault–shaped passage through a building (“voltone del Podestà”, “— delle Molinelle”). In Pavia there is “voltone degli Isimbardi”, that is a tiny square whit single inlet/outlet through an arch.
    galleria and passaggio

    13 – “Galleria” vs. “passaggio”: on the left “galleria V.Emanuele II” in Milan; on the right “passaggio Giardini di Ponente” in Como.

    Bridges and overpasses

    • cavalcavia: overpass, a road that goes over another road, or a railway; by extension a road that includes an overpass: as street designation, found only “cavalcavia Borgomagno” in Padova.
    • ponte: bridge, a structure built so that a transportation route can cross above an obstacle, usually a river. Although it is common that a bridge has a proper name, the unique, famous, cases in wich a bridge have buildings and house numbers are the “Ponte Vecchio” in Florence and the “Ponte di Rialto” in Venice, both lined with shops. The “Ponte Coperto” of Pavia has a small chapel, but no house number. In the Antique Harbour of Genoa, the term ponte indicates instead a →dock: (e.g. “ponte Andrea Doria”, “ponte degli Embriaci”, “ponte degli Spinola”).
    Ponte Vecchio a Firenze [CC-BY-SA-2.5]

    14 – Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

    Localities, hamlets

    Small villages or clumps of houses that that lack separate municipal government are called località o frazione: larger villages may have their own place names with streets and squares, but the smallers one may instead have a single street name, defined as special street type: this latters have house numbers, whose count continue throughout all the hamlet.

    • borgatahamlet, a clump of rural house, especially in the surroundings of Turin and Belluno (Veneto); by extension, a road that reach or pass trought a borgata.
    Cascina a corte lombarda a San Giorgio su Legnano

    15 – Cascina a corte lombarda a San Giorgio su Legnano (MI)

    • cascina: (from antique Lombard cassina, formerly in Medieval Latin) is a type of rural building typical of the Po valley, especially of Lombardy and parts of Piedmont and Emilia Romagna. Generally a cascina was a farmstead that included houses for laborers and every building needed for the agricultural activity (such as stables, barns, ovens, mills and dairies) grouped around one or more enclosed courts. Larger and most isolated cascine were semi-autonomous settlements that could have some services as a church, a school, a tavern and some shops. A similar structure in the southern Italy is called →masseria.
    • case sparse: scattered houses, a group of buildings in number so small, as not to constitute an inhabited. The National Institute of Statistic defines the case sparse as houses «scattered in the municipal area at a distance from each other that they can not even be an inhabited» (Italian National Insititute of Statistic).
    • contrada: the origin is uncertain but seems to be a derivated from Latin contra, meaning something that “stands opposite”; in Southern Italy it indicates various types of localities whose dimension can vary from hamlet (Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily) to scattered houses (Sicily). For other meanings, see →contrada.
    • frazione: hamlet, is an inhabitated that lack separate municipal government.
    • isola: island, this is an hamlet that coincides with an islet, usually if it isn’t big enough to have its own street names (e.g. “Isola di San Giulio” sul lago d’Orta, “— dell’Unione” a Chioggia; “— di San Giorgio”, “— di San Servolo” a Venezia).
    • località: locality, place, generally any infra-municipal settlement that, unlike a →frazione, does not have necessarily the characteristics of the inhabitated, eg. insulated or scattered buildings, farms. In practice, however, both terms are often used interchangeably.
    • masseria: (da massaio, massaro) is the typical walled farmstead of the southern Italy, especially in Apulia and Sicily. It may be considered comparable to the northern →cascina, with respect to which is usually smaller and could be fortified.
    • regione: in Liguria and northern Piedmont is a small rural settlement, syn. of località. It derives from regio -ōnis, from regĕre “to direct”, “direction”, so “line”, from wich “boundary line» and then “area”, “region”.
    • villaggio: village, is a small, urbanistically homogeneous neighborhood composed of cottages and gardens.  Unlike other locality-related street types, it is not necessarily in an isolated area (e.g. “villaggio dei Pioppi” in Torre d’Isola and “— Tassara” in Bagnolo Mella, Lombardy).
    • vocabolo: small group of rural houses.

    Venice and Venetian Lagoon

    Venice and its Lagoon deserve a separate paragraph due to the singularity of urbanism, based on waterways, and the echo of Venetian language in place names. Some of the following street types are commons in other towns of the lagoon as like as Murano, Burano, Chioggia, e.g. calle that is the Venetian for →via (street). Unlike the rest of the Italian cities, the street numbers count continue throughout all the sestiere (that is the neighborhood), with no apparent logical order (so we could find house numbers over the five thousand) and streets that have the same name aren’t uncommon. In 1887 Tassini (op. cit.) wrote: «Where at the same point there are two Calli of the same name we find «Calle Prima, Calle Seconda», etc. We find also Calle a fianco (aside, TN), Calle dietro (backward, TN), etc. All this also occurs with regard to «Corte, Ramo», etc.» The street sign, black lettering on white stone, are called nizioleti, that in Venetian means “little sheets” (photo 1).


    16 – “Canale di Canareggio”, one of the most famous →canals in Venice.

    Venetian streets

    • barbarìa: there’s only one street of this type, that is “barbarìa delle Tole”, already mentioned in a law of 1331. There’s actually no difference with a calle, the origin of the denomination barbaria is uncertain but probably connecten with the wood trade: in these area in fact there were deposits and carpentiers. Here were planed the barbe (i.e. the “flaws”) from logs from which barberia. Tassini gives as most likely hypotesis that the term derives instead from the destinations of these logs, that was Barbaria or “barbarian countires”, a generic term used to describe any distant country. Others hypotesys are that “barbarians” were the same carpentiers, «rude and barbarous people» (Tassini) or that barbarìa derived from the barbieri (Gallicciolli), that are the “barber shops”. However is known the origin of the specific name “delle tole”, also linked to timber trade and processing: in Venetian, tole (pl.) are the wooden planks.
    • borgoloco: this is a street where there was inns or lodging. I seems that the term comes from the Venetian saying «tegnir uno a loco e foco», to host someone at “home and fireplace” meaning “at my own expenses” (French: «defrayer, fournir aux frais») There are two streets cassified borgoloco, i.e. “borgoloco Pompeo Molmenti” and “borgolocco San Lorenzo”. Found also as specific (e.g. “calle Borgoloco”).
    • calle: street, in Venice i.e. a typical street lined by buildings, syn. of via found also all the towns of the Venetian Lagoon and surrounding, such as Caorle Chioggia, Grado, Malamocco, Mestre, Murano e Burano; also common in Milan in pre–unification era. According to Tassini, the calli (pl.) «are those internal road that are longer than wider». The term derives from Latino callis, “path”, from which derived also the Spanish calle, that is a street.
      • calle stretta: narrow calle, tiny street, alley.
      • calle larga: wide calle, wider than average (e.g. “calle larga San Marco”). The main street of Zadar, in Croatia, is still called (in Croatian) Kalelarga, from Venetian calle larga.
      • calle lunga: long calle, longer than the average and usually curvy.
    Fondamenta Contarin, Venezia

    17 – “fondamenta Contarin” in Venice. [foto: G.Dall’Orto]

    • callesèlla: (dim. of →calle) tiny street, alley. The Regestum possessionum comunis Vincencie of 1262, that is a cadaster of the municipal properties of Vicenza, defines the callesèlla a «small way, path, cattle-track, callis».
    • callesèllo: (dim. of →calle) tiny street, alley; found in Marostica (“callesello delle Monache”). Also in  Solagna, Veneto, there was a path called “callesello della Chiesa”[10]
    • callétta: (dim. of calle), tiny street, alley.
    • fondamenta: foundations, this is a quay along a canal →canali), so called because they run over the foundations of building. A covered fondamenta is called sotoportego, while the larger ones are called riva.
    • lista: list, strip, this is a street once characterized by a central strip of istrian stone, called exactly lista. These streets, in the days of Venetian Republic, were in the vicinity of a foreign embassy and the strip marked the boundary of the embassy area, within which one could benefit from some immunities. Nowaday only one street is still named as lista, that is “lista Bari”. The term survives also in the “rio terà Lista di Spagna”, which name recalls the existence, in the past, of the spanish embassy at the Republic of Venice.
    • merceria: from Venetian marzaria (goods store), this is a quite important street because it was lined by goods stores (e.g. “merceria San Salvador”).
    • piscina: tank, this is a street built on a buried natural pond (e.g. “piscina Venier”).
    • rio terà: buried rio, is a street that lies on the path of buried or covered →rio, i.e. a canal. Especially between 18th and 19th some waterways of Venice were buried or covered for creating pedestrian ways. The oldest might be the “rio terà della Maddalena” whose burial dates back to 1398. The one with the oddest name might be “rio terà Barba Fruttaròl”: would in fact be entitled to a certain “uncle” (Venetian, barba) that was a greengrocer (fruttaròl). The fame of this shop must have been such as to survive for centuries in the place name: a “rivo Barba Frutaròl” (not yet buried: rivo is for rio) is in fact yet mentioned in a catalog of harlots of the 16th century and in a chronicle of 1587.
    • ramo: branch, usually a dead-end alley that branches off another street (e.g. “ramo crociferi”, “ramo al Ponte S.Francesco”).
    • riva: this is a quay just like fondamenta, but wider, longer and without parapets, intended as landing places. Usually are called riva only the quays along the “Canal Grande” and “Bacino di San Marco”. For example “Riva degli Schiavoni”, dating from the ninth century and so named because in the days of the Republic was a landing place for merchant ships from “Slavonia” (Dalmatia). We can find at least one riva also in Burano and Murano.
    • ruga: from French rue, this is a main street lined by stores, just like a →corso. (e.g. “ruga Giuffa”, “ruga Rialto”).
      • rugheta: a tiny →ruga,  →corsetto (e.g. “rugheta Ravano”).
      Salizada dei Greci a Venezia [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

      18 – “salizada dei Greci”, Venice.

    • salizada: were the most important streets and for this reason they were the first to be paved with the typical slabs of trachite, now widespread throughout the city, called masegni: in facts, in venetian salizada means “paved” (pic. 18).
    • sotoportego: porch, Venetian for →sottoportico, is a covered passage in the body of a building. It can connect two streets or to be an access to a canal, providing a covered loading/unloading area. Finally, some sotoporteghi run along a rio and are basically a covered →fondamenta (pic. 19).

    19 – Venice, two types of →sotoportego“: on the left, “sotoportego del Fenester” is a →passage through a building, on the right “sotoportego Panada” is a covered “→fondamenta“.

    Venetian squares

    • campo: is the square (→piazza) in Venice. The only square called piazza in Venice is the famous “piazza S. Marco”, all the others are campi. In fact the squares in Venice were originally covered in grass and used for the pasture of animals, resembling so fields. Tassini wrote in 1887: «It was quite natural that our fathers leave a clearing in front of the churches for the turnout of the people who attended the sacred functions. These squares, other than that of San Marco, were called “campi” (fields, TN) because, as beeing planted trees in the earlies days, and having let the grass grow for pasturing horses, mules, and the flock, they resemble fields» Typical feature of the venetian campo is the waterwell to draw fresh water.
      • campiello: dim. of →campo, small square, just like →piazzetta; it usually do not have the waterwell. It derives from campicello, small field. The Italian annual literary prize known as “Premio Campiello”, whose ceremony traditionally takes place in Venice, named precisely after the term campiello.
    • corte: courtyard, a type of small square obtained from a former courtyard of a building, usually with inlet through the body of this latter. It is equivalent to the →corte found in other cities. The corte represents a typical feature of the Venice urbanism, known as corte veneziana (Venetian courtyard).
      • cortesela: dim. of →corte, a tiny one.


    Waterways are the most notable feature of the urbanism of Venice, Murano, Burano and Chioggia. They are often used just like roads, and many buildings have access directly on the water.

    • bacino: basin, it is a wide water surface that is part of the urban waterway network. The “bacino Orseolo” is a “water square” surrounded by buildings, built in 1869 to allow mooring to Piazza San Marco. The “bacino San Marco” is the confluence of channels of Lido, San Marco and Giudecca.
    • canale or canàl: canal, they are the main canals of the urban waterways fabric. A canal can be flanked on one or both sides by a →fondamenta that allows pedestrian passage. The most famous in Venice is the pictoresque “Canal Grande”, also known as “Canalazzo”, that is the main canal that divide the historic centre. Other important canals are the “canale di Canareggio” and “canale della Giudecca”. We can found canals also in Chioggia (“Canal Vena”), Burano and Murano (e.g. “Canale Serenella”). Out of the inhabitated, are called canale the navigable routes in the Lagoon.
    • rio: stream, formerly called rivo, is a secondary canal that is comparable to an alley. They form the capillary navigable fabric of the old town. Just like a canal, a rio can be flanked on one or both sides by a →fondamenta that allows pedestrian passage, but isn’t uncommon that they have no sidewalk at all. A covered rio turned into a street is called rio terà.
      • riello: a small rio, a branch, comparable to an alley.
    Canal Grande [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

    20 – “Canal Grande”, the main canal in Venice.

    Islets in Venetian Lagoon

    In the surroundings of Venice there are some scattered islets that lack separate municipal government.  Although they may have their own streets and squares, the smallers ones may be indicated as single street name, defined as a special street type.

    • isola: island, in the Venetian Lagoon are the natural islets that are detached from the city area  (see →isola, locality).
    • sacca: bay, in Venice a sacca  was usually a sea-inlet used for discharging the debris from dredging of canals or demolition of buildings. Tassini wrote: «as sacca we mean a place where the water comes in and form almost a natural harbour. Many of these sacche we had originally in Venice, but most of them went gradually burying». Some of these have turned over time in small artificial islands (e.g. “sacca Fisola”). “Sacca Misericordia” is the only one to have remained a creek, now used as a small port.

    Originally published in Italian 21th October 2012.


    [references class=”compact” /]

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    Work protected from plagiarism deposit number 36001

    Last updated February 11th 2024 — Last revised 4th Jan. 2016.

    Over de auteur

    Silvio DellʼAcqua

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    Fondatore, editore e webmaster di Lapůta. Cultore di storia della Croce Rossa Internazionale. Appassionato di ricci.

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