Venetian word of the day: vénto

As you might expect, being located in the centre of the water, Venice can suffer quite a lot from vénto, which is the Venetian word for wind. In the hot summers, when the city almost suffocates from heat, Venetians repair to the zattere, the quay on the northern side of the Giudecca canal, to enjoy the venteselo, or breeze, and ice-cream from the legendary Gelateria Nico. (I used to go there with my cousins when I was a child, and I am happy to report that it hasn’t changed one bit since then and is still always full of locals.)

In the winter, however, when it often rains, wind can be strong and a nuisance. If it blows from the south-east, it’s known as the scirocco. This is a warm wind which comes from Africa but by the time it reaches Venice it can be very strong and it often blows uninterrupted for days.

If the wind blows from the north-east, it’s known as the bòra. This is cold and is often characterised by violent gusts which can be very dangerous to boats in the open sea. This wind is felt most strongly in the city of Trieste on the opposite side of the Gulf of Venice. Both of these winds, combined with a full moon can cause acqua alta.

If it doesn’t rain at the same time as the wind, it will often rain just after—the same is true with acqua alta when it often rains in the period when the tide is falling. A humid wind is often referred to as vento da piova, which means wind that brings rain. It also occurs in an idiom where someone who is an opportunist or tries to be all things to all men is referred to as a bandiera d’ogni vento (a flag for all winds).

Vénto looks like the standard italian word for wind but, as the accent suggests, is pronounced with a closed ‘e’ which makes it sound quite different and much more menacing.


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