Venice Local Custom Tips by christine.j
Venice Local Customs: 327 reviews and 575 photos
In Venice I saw round plates with two animals carved into them , once on a church and another time on a house in Burano. I have no idea what they symbolize.
Update from May 2007:
With a lot of help from VT member Trekki, and after looking in many books about Venice, I think I found the answer.
There are three types of plates, called "tondo","patere" and "formelle", depending on their shape, a full circle or a combination of a circle and a rectangle.From 13th century on they were used as ornaments.
They're showing various subjects, ranging from simple ornaments like flowers for example to
meaningful messages. Since most people couldn't read or write, a sort of picture language was used.
The "Physiologus", a book written in 2nd century explained animals,real ones and mythical ones, talked about their special characteristics and then used these animals in an allegory for the early christian church.
This book was very influential in the European culture up to the end of the Middle Ages.(To a certain extent even now, think of Disney's" Lion King". It's not called "Elefant King" or "Warthog King".)
the phoenix - resurrection
the eagle and the lion - courage, empire, kingdom
the fox - paganism, also voluptuousness
the snake - evil, lying
the pelican - willingness to make sacrifices
In some of the plates in Venice a fight between good and evil is symbolized.
In others two evil creatures are fighting each other, which was to indicate to evil spirits that some of their kind have already arrived at this house, so, please stay away, no need for any other bad spirits.Two good animals in a plate were considered extra protection for the house and its inhabitants.
The plates I saw at a church were put up there later, after they had been taken down from a private home.
...you need to go. But I didn't see too many public toilets in Venice. Close to San Marco there are some, but they are only open during the day, from 10 in the morning to 7 in the evening.
Be sure to have some coins to open them.
Another toilet is in the train station, when you enter the area of the platforms, they are on the right side. Again, you have to pay.
I noticed that in quite a few restaurants many dishes were marked as
"minimum two orders".
This doesn't matter if you're travelling with another person who likes the same food as you do. But if you're on your own, or simply like to eat different things, this can be a problem.
I can't think of any reason for this, maybe someone from Venice can enlighten me.
For us it was no problem, since we both like the same type of food. Still, it would have
been nice to try a greater variety by ordering two different dishes and then share.
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