WHAT A STRANGE NAME FOR A PLACE!
The streets in Venice generally have
ancient and above all courious names which reflect
different work that was done in the area (like Calle del "Pestrin", which means milkman,
of "Pistor", which means baker, of
"Fruttarol", which means fruit seller, etc.),
commercial activities (like "Mercerie", where
you could buy fabrics, "Frezzerie", where they
made arrows, Calle "Fiubera" where they made
buckles for shoes, etc.) and the origins of inhabitants (like Calle dei "Preti", the street of
or "Muneghe", meaning nuns, or
"Ragusei", which refers to the people from
Ragusa, Dubrovnik nowadays, who lived in that area of Venice, riva dei "Schiavoni", the "big
slaves", refers to slaves brought from the Dalmatan Coast, etc.).
There are also many stories about places names. The Riva di Biasio comes from Biagio who was thought to be the owner of a little XVI century restaurant (an "osteria"). Biasio was well-known by all the sailors as a good cook, especially for his delicious meat dishes. However Biasio became infamous when a customer found a baby's finger in his plate. Another story about Biasio reports him to be a butcher who sold human instead of animal meat. However the story about his death is very clear. He was condemned to death by the Serenissima Republic, tortured on a boat crossing the width of the Grand Canal. Then, as a warning to all Venetians, he was tied between the two columns of the Piazzetta and publicly beheaded. Biasio was then cut into four parts hung on four hooks on the four cardinal points of Venice so that everyone could see him and remember his crime.
On a lighter note, Campiello Mosca (meaning fly) has its origin not in relation to the annoying insects, but in reference to the false beauty spots, called mosche. These beauty spots were worn by both men and women and were very important during the period of the Serenissima as they were used as silent and secret messages depending where they were placed on the wearers face, following a precise code. A woman who wore a beauty spot near an eye would mean: "I'm irresistible".