Since the 18th century, as evidenced by Canaletto in one of his paintings, the Ruga Giuffa bridge was equipped with shoulders, not in iron as now but in stone. Admiring the bridge from Campo Santa Maria Formosa you can see that it is flanked by three other bridges, some of which are private, spaced a few meters from each other and which cross the entire Rio di Santa Maria Formosa. It was built using mainly bricks, plaster and Istrian stone, the last time it was renovated in 1994. The distance between the two banks is about 6 meters which corresponds to just over 20 steps. The two ramps are in trachyte while the railing is in metal.
As for the etymology of the name, the most accredited version of the origins of the word Ruga is linked to the homonymous term coming from the Latin with the meaning of a sign on the skin, furrow while some nineteenth-century scholars such as Tassini, Boerio and Molmenti have linked it to French word rue, street. The fact remains that the wrinkles in Venice were born to be real streets, more linear and rigorous than the calli, generally characterized by the main facades of the houses facing the walkway.
Much more complex is the origin of the word Giuffa, however, for which two different forms of thought have been formulated.
The first dates back to the eighteenth century with Giambattista Galliccioli who brought the word Giuffa back to Ziulfa, as an extension of the Armenian city of Julfa, as the road at the time was inhabited by traders from the suburb of Hispahan, in Persia, after the Persian king Schach-Abas drove them out of their country. In the sixteenth century there were many Armenians who found refuge in Venice and many who came from Giulfa, a rich and thriving Persian town that lived off international trade. Not surprisingly, Ruga Giuffa quickly became an important shopping area, teeming with people and shops of various kinds, many of which are always open. In a clearing along the road there was also a money changer and an insurance desk; however, it should be stressed that not only Armenian families lived in the area but also wealthy Venetian families.
According to Giuseppe Tassini, however, the origin is very different and is related to the word Gagiuffa, an etymology used in some ancient documents to name Ruga Giuffa. The word Gagiuffa refers to the gagiuffos, male and female people who went around the city cheating, begging and robbing passers-by; it is assumed that the bridge and the road in question, together with the Ruga Giuffa di Sant'Apollonia, could have been the ancient headquarters of these swindlers.
A certain Dr. T. Elze supports this second definition as the term gajufus derives from the Dalmatian gejupka which means in Italian gypsy. Finally, it is assumed that the word gajufus derives from our voice gaglioffo to mean a dishonest person, unscrupulous, rascal, rogue, delinquent, scoundrel, filibuster, swindler, lazzarone, swindler, marauder, malefactor, criminal, villain, rogue, scoundrel, scoundrel.