Interesting facts about Veneto, Italy

Facts about Veneto: geography

Veneto - accent on the first e - is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy.

It is located in the north-east of Italy, bordering to the north Austria and the Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige, to the east the Italian region Friuli and the Adriatic sea, to the south the Italian region Emilia Romagna, to the west the Italian region Lombardy.

The capital is Venice. Veneto is divided into 7 provinces: Venice, Treviso, Vicenza, Verona, Padua, Rovigo, Belluno.

The surface amounts to 18,399sqKm/11,433sqm, that is about 6% of the area of Italy (which in turn is about ¾ of the area of California, so to give a basis for comparison).

In Veneto lies the biggest Italian lake, shared with Lombardy: the Lake of Garda .

Other lakes, definitely much smaller, are the alpine Lago di Misurina, set amid the Dolomites, and the Lago di Alleghe.

In the Berici hills, near Vicenza, there is the small Lago di Fimon, a pleasant getaway for many people of the Vicenza area and of great interest for its flora and fauna.

The southern part of the Dolomites mountains, that is the most scenic section of the Alps, rises in Veneto. The tallest mountain of Veneto is Marmolada, measuring 3343mt/9365ft.

Facts about Veneto: population and official language

The amount of population is a bit less than 5 millions people.

The name Veneto comes from the first tribes that settled down in the area: the Venetos.

The official language is Italian.

Facts about Veneto: the Venetian dialect

The Venetian dialect is widely spoken by people of any generation. Very often it is the real mother language, being the first language spoken inside families. Thus most Veneto people are bilingual.
A tidbit: in the last decades parents have been tending to speak Italian to their children. It is therefore very common to hear adults speaking Venetian among them and Italian with their children.

The Venetian dialect, however, is not as pure as it used to be during the Republic of Venice, when it was used even in official documents and was the lingua franca of the Eastern Mediterranean.

This dialect matter involves almost all of Italy: most Italians are bilingual, speaking both their own regional dialect and Italian. Often the local dialects are incomprehensible to Italians born in different regions.
An example of Venetian word very similar to Italian:
the cat, i.e. el gato in Venetian, il gatto in Italian.

Venetian is a Romance language, and most of its words come from Latin, just like Italian, whom it is very similar to.
There are also some words stemming from German though. The reasons are:

  1. the closeness of Veneto with the Germanic world

  2. the fact that during the Republic of Venice some groups of German lumberjacks settled in some areas in the Veneto foothills, included the Asiago plateau

  3. the Austrian dominion after the fall of the Republic of Venice.

A couple of examples of Veneto’s words stemming from German: schei – read skei – is the Venetian word for money (soldi in Italian).
It comes from the writing Scheidemunze, inscribed in the little coins used during the decades of the Austrian dominion in the 1800’s.
Another word used in the Veneto dialect stemming from German is sgnapa – read s-ña-pa, with n sounding the same as ñ in the Spanish term mañana. It stems from the German word schnaps, meaning grappa, the famous distillate.

The worldwide most celebre Italian word – ciao – has a Venetian origin too.
At the beginning it was a greeting that sounded like sciavo tuo - read s-chavo tuo, like in chance - meaning I am your slave or I am at your service. With the passing of time, it turned into the short form ciao.

The word ghetto comes from the Venetian dialect as well: it stems from the Venetian word getto - pronounced j-ae-tto.
In the ancient Venetian Jewish district there were some foundries. What is done in a foundry, as what the old Venetians did, was to gettare, i.e, translated from the Venetian-Italian, to pour molten metal. The sound turned soon into a guttural one, because of the pronunciation of the Jewish of German descent.

Thanks to the maritime power of the Republic of Venice, also many terms of the sailor’s slang still used nowadays comes from the Venetian language.

Some people in the Histrian and Dalmatian coast and islands - mostly oldies - still speak the Venetian dialect along with Croatian. It is a remnant of the fact that those lands were Venetian for many centuries.

Facts about Veneto: wealth, poverty, emigration

The Republic of Venice, encompassing the Veneto mainland too, was for centuries one of the wealthiest powers of Europe.
It became a very poor area after the fall of the Venice Republic in 1797, when it passed under the dominion of Austria and finally united with the Reign of Italy in 1866.

After the Second World War it has turned into one of the wealthiest regions of Italy, becoming in the Eighties and Nineties one of the wealthiest districts of Europe.

From Veneto, like from the rest of Italy, between the late 1800’s and mid 1900’s emigrated millions of people, especially towards Argentina, Brasil, Canada, USA, Australia and other European countries.

Facts about Veneto: famous brands

Bottega Veneta


Travelers, sailors and explorers

Marco Polo
Pietro Querini
Giovanni Caboto
Sebastiano Caboto
Antonio Pigafetta (he took part to the first circumnavigation of the Earth lead by Magellan)
Alvise Cadamosto

Facts about Veneto: writers, poets, scholars and composers

Giacomo Casanova
Angelo Beolco (aka el Ruzante)
Carlo Goldoni
Luigi da Porto (he owns the copyright of the novel Romeo and Juliet)
Lorenzo da Ponte: librettist. He also wrote three librettos for the Mozart operas’ Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro
Ugo Foscolo
Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Salieri

Painters, sculptors, architects from Veneto

Giovanni Bellini
Andrea Mantegna
Vittore Carpaccio
Tiziano Vecellio
Gianbattista Tiepolo
Giovanni Antonio Canal (aka el Canaletto)
Francesco Guardi
Antonio Canova (sculptor)
Andrea Palladio (architect)
Vincenzo Scamozzi
Michele Sanmicheli
Giambattista Piranesi

Sportsmen from Veneto

Roberto Baggio: footballer
Paolo Rossi: footballer
Sara Simeoni: high jump olympic champion

Facts about Veneto: sayings

There is a fun saying in Veneto which goes:
Padovani gran dottori, Veneziani gran Signori, Vicentini magnagatti, Veronesi tutti matti, meaning Paduans great scholars, Venetians great aristocrats, Vicentinos cat-eaters, Veroneses crazy...

Why in the hell Vicenza people should eat cats? it’s a legend born during the world war.
People were almost starving and they ate everything they could...There’s no reason why it should refers only to Vicenza people, as life conditions were tough everywhere, even in Verona or Venice I mean. It must be all a matter of rhyme.
Anyway, do not worry, cats are protected by laws nowadays, beloved and considered like humans (sometimes better), so nobody would dare to eat spaghetti with cat ragout...

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