Why, in Venice, is a glass of wine often called un'ombra?

Piazza San Marco by Francesco Guardi
Why, in Venice, is a glass of wine often called un'ombra?

At the end of the 14th century a number of vendors began to congregate at the base of the bell tower in the Piazza San Marco. They sold a wide range of merchandise, from herbs and spices to bread and wine. Over time most of the stallholders disappeared, but the wine-sellers remained. They had a very good reason for doing so. During the course of the day, in order to shield both the wine and their clients from the Venetian sun, the wine-sellers took to exploiting the shade provided by the bell tower. As the sun moved across the sky, the wine-sellers duly moved their wares around the tower to the shadiest spot. 

The Italian word for shade is ombra and in time ombra came to stand for a glass of wine. So if you hear the phrase 'Andemo bèver un ombra?', it is no more than a simple invitation to drink a glass of wine. 

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