Curiosità Veneziane by Giuseppe Tassini was first published in 1863, and it is still being reprinted regularly. It is the go-to book for information on Venetian toponyms, and a treasure trove of curious historical titbits.
Filippi Editore still reprints the 9th edition, but there is no English translation, which is why I translate the occasional entry.
Giuseppe Tassini was born in 1827 into a Venetian upper middle class family.
Tassini’s grandfather lived in Constantinople for many years, working in the offices of the Venetian bailo, or ambassador, to the court of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Carlo Tassini, father of Giuseppe, was born there in 1781.
After the end of the Venetian Republic in 1797 the family returned to Venice, where Carlo Tassini later made career in the Veneto-Austrian navy. He first married Maria Furlani, which whom he got a son, Giulio. Widowed, he later remarried with Elisabeth de Wasserfall, the daughter of a colonel in the Imperial Austrian army.
Giuseppe was born to Carlo and Elisabeth in 1827.
He started studying law in Padova, but he wasn’t a very good student. When confronted, he often said that “born to a Turk and a German, how can I not be a bit strange.”
Tassini served like his father in the Austrian navy during the 1848-19 upheavals, but didn’t remain in the navy.
His father died in 1858, and Giuseppe went back to university to finish his studies. He finally got his degree in 1860 at the age of 33.
Tassini inherited a sizeable fortune from his father, which included several houses in Venice and an estate on the mainland in Scorzè. He consequently used his economic independence to pursue his interest in the history and toponyms of Venice.
Curiosità Veneziane was published in 1863. It was an immediate success, with new editions in 1872, 1882, 1887 and more after the death of Tassini.
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