My nicknames are Kat, G-Dawg, Gonzo…pretty tame stuff. In Venice, the gondoliers are known for giving each other nicknames, ones that are sometimes complimentary but often ones that are ironic, bawdy, or even insulting. Some names are in Italian, while many are in Venetian dialect.
A friend sent me the link to this website that lists many gondolier nicknames:
It’s a long list, and my favorite thing to do is just hop around, reading a bit here and there. Here are a few of my current favorites:
Mama so beautiful: gondoliere particolarmente brutto (A gondolier who is particularly ugly.)
Dentin: si dice che abbia piu di 100 denti in bocca (“Teeth.”He apparently has 100 teeth!)
Aquainboca :per plateale caduta in acqua con ribaltamento della gondola il primo giorno di lavoro. (Means “water in the mouth.” Poor guy fell in the water on his first day rowing the gondola.)
Niagara: poiché è caduto in acqua dalla sua gondola 3 volte in un sol giorno. (This guy fell in the water three times in one day.)
Patate (fratello di Mitraglia): perché quando parla sembra abbia delle patate in bocca. (“Potatoes.” When he speaks he seems to have potatoes in his mouth.)
Brassi curti: per, ironia della sorte, le sue braccia lunghe… (“Short arms.” Ironic since his arms are especially long.)
Girasole: 1,94 di altezza. (“Sunflower” since he’s very tall.)
Ea mumia: per la sua particolare espressione. (“Mummy” for the expression on his face.)
This next list of guys, listed one the website, are guys I know. Sorry, I won’t tell you their identities here, but I can say that the names generally fit.
El Panda: omone da quintale e simile a un panda grazie anche al ciuffo bianco tra i suoi capelli nerissimi (Ora lo chiamano Kung Fu Panda come dall’omonimo cartone animato). (Because he looks like Kung Fu Panda.)
Gigante (o Super D’Este):Giampaolo D’Este campione del remo dal fisico mastodontico. (“Giant” because he’s built like a mastodon.)
Gràmoe: In dialetto mascelle. Dal modo in cui mangia muovendo vistosamente le gràmoe. (Supposedly he eats like Jaws. I’ve had plenty of meals with this guy and never noticed!)
Campagna: Perché abita a Spinea. (“Country” because he lives on Spinea, another island outside Venice.)
I know some other guys whose nicknames aren’t listed here:
Martín, because he’s like the bird, the martin, that flies overhead and sees everything.
Americano: this one is strange because his father is Venetian and his mother British….
Pisciolino: His orangey hair is like a goldfish.
Fandango: He sometimes stretches the truth, doing a fancy dance like the fandango.
Diavolo: He has spikey, pointy, devilish eyebrows.
I hope you can enjoy the site and reading these fun names! If you can’t understand the Italian, just copy and paste the text into Google translate.