A numbers game

In my non-structured wanders through Venice, every once in awhile, I would look up, and see examples of old and new numbering systems.

Here are a few, so you be on the lookout, next time you’re here.

This one is pretty straightforward, the old, outdated Roman numeral supplanted by the modern numbering system.

And this one was right next door.


This one also followed the same pattern. I did wonder about the large discrepancy between the old numbers, in this 4, and the new number. Were there so few numbered houses at some time?

Then came this one, also shown in the following photo. First there is the number 18, followed by the Greek symbol for 'omega', then a number in Roman numerals

And then, a third numbering system for this one address. Intriguing. Mysterious, rather like Venice, in fact.



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7 responses to “A numbers game

  1. Andrew, you’re right about that Youtube selection. Thanks for telling us about it!


  2. Bert

    I’ve never read anything about any numbering system in Venice before the present one – and all that people have to say about the present one is that it runs from 1 to whatever is the last house in each sestiere. There are traces on some houses of an older, but similar, numbering system – similar in that some of the numbers are large. I think that the Roman numerals were an attempt to number each street separately, since the numbers are small, and you can sometimes find ‘I’ at one end of a street. Since many street names are repeated in one sestiere, never mind in Venice as a whole, this system would lead to confusion. In Calle Priuli ai Cavaleti the Roman numbers are incised backwards on one side of the street, and the right way round on the other side.


  3. Michelle

    I would think there were few numbers in the old days because a)most houses had names and b) everyone knew where you lived anyway so why bother.
    Just a guess. Correct me if I’m wrong, Bert. I know you will.


  4. Andrew

    If you want to hear one of those really annoying ‘Can’t get it out of my head songs’, go on Youtube and find Santamarta Ska-j. It’s about one address in Venice and I love it but wake up humming it. Notice the numbers in Venessian.


    • Oh, thanks a lot, Andrew. Just what a person needs!

      The one with the ‘omega’ was especially intriguing.


      • Andrew

        Sorry, I meant the Venessian in the song. He sings ‘Vinti sinquanta quatro’. The numbers on the doors are interesting. I think when we see those vestiges of past times we can’t help but let our imaginations wander.


  5. djones47

    Various city councils had a hand in the changes, I’m sure.


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