Venice is one of those cities whose name – Venetia, and later Venezia, that is the land of the Veneti – was adjusted by most people to their own languages: Venice, Venecia, Veneza, Venecija, Wenecja, Venetië, ونیز Venīz, Venedig, Venedik, Benetke, Benátky, البندقية Al-Bunduqiyya, or in Hungarian Velence. Most versions are simply more or less approximative local transcriptions of the original pronounciation. However, several speakers prefer to reveal some kind of local etymology behind their own version, just as we saw in the case of demijohn. The Arabic version is thus often derived from bunduqiyya, rifle, while the Slovenian/Czech Benetke/Benátky from an alleged benátky meaning “swampy” and referring to the situation of Venice, similarly to the name Venezuola, little Venice, which was given by Amerigo Vespucci to the shores of later Venezuela because of their Indian pile-dwellings built on the water.
Whether the name of the Hungarian fishing (and lately resort) village of Velence, some thirty kilometers to SW from Budapest is in any connection with its Italian namesake, is debatable even in Hungary. According to King Matthias’ court historian Antonio Bonfini (†1503) it was founded by Italian colonists coming from “Venetia”, and thus it got its name after Venice just like Northern Czech Benátky nad Jizerou. But he does not say when it all happened, and Bonfini, who had all the antiquity at his fingertips, may well have intended here the Veneti of the antiquity, just as he considered the Romanians to be direct offsprings of the inhabitants of Rome and King Matthias himself a member of the ancient Roman Corvinus family. The Hungarian Dictionary of Etymology derives the name from the wind vane of local fishermen called velence, which perhaps can be reduced to an original Slavic velenice, the diminutive form of velenie, direction, guide. Finally, renowned Medieval historians György Györffy and György Székely date the foundation of the village to the great Northern Italian wave of immigration to Hungary between 1000 and 1300, similarly to a number of other (since then extinct, that is, destroyed by the Turks) Medieval villages called Venece, Venence, Velence etc., and an even larger number of still existing villages having the Medieval Hungarian term for “Italian” olasz in their names: Olaszliszka, Bodrogolaszi and the rest. One thing is sure that in 1516 it was mentioned as “Welencze aka Venecia”, and in the first map of Hungary of 1522/28 it figures as Veneze.
Whatever the etymological connection between the two place names is, the ice cream parlour on the lake-shore has created a kinship between the two Venices with a generous gesture. The two prospettive and the bilingual sign-board bridge distances and cultures, and the role of the gondola is performed by the canoe transformed into flower-stand. And immediately beyond the garden there opens a live panorama of the lagoons of Velence.