This is a word that anyone who’s been to Venice will have heard being shouted out of the mouths of gondoliers. It means, ‘hello there!’ and it used by boatmen at crossroads—or should that be crosscanals—to alert other canal users to their presence.
If there is another boat around the corner, the driver should respond ‘òe!’ If however, the other boat user in a gondola, sandolo, or any other kind of rowing boat, they should reply ‘òe pope!’ Hearing this, the boat user will keep left, to allow the rowing boat to pass to the right so there is space for their oar.
Other responses used by rowing boats include, ‘òe premando’ (I’m turning left) and ‘òe stagando’ (I’m turning right). Next time you’re in Venice, position yourself on a bridge near an intersection and listen out for the shouts.