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Vanna (/ˈvænə/ Italian: [ˈvanna]) is a given name that first appeared in recorded European history circa 1294. The Italian medieval feminine name originated in Tuscany, and is particular to Florence, Italy.

Though similar in pronunciation to the Italian name Giovanna, and conjectured to be derived from it, Vanna is neither a nickname nor a derivation.


The name Vanna first appears in print in La Vita Nuova, a thirteenth-century book of verse written by Dante Alighieri, an Italian Florentine poet. In one verse, Dante writes that (anthropomorphized) Love itself proclaims that Vanna is Primavera ("Springtime") and declares that Beatrice's name is "Love".[1]

Vanna is also a Cambodian unisex name meaning "Gold". It originates from ancient Sanskrit. Cambodian names are chosen for various themes such as Nature and positive attributes.[2]


Vannetta; Vanetta; Vannina; Vanni, similar to the first name Ivanna.

Meanings and usage[edit]

The name Vanna is particular to the Tuscan province of Italy where usage originated during the Renaissance and became popular as a feminine first given name. Vanna is the feminine root form of Giovanni, the Italian cognate of John, meaning "God is gracious".

An Italian variant that closely resembles the name but was a family name and not in usage as a first or given name is the rare surname vanno, from ancient Latin meaning "she who sifts" (or "assesses") and "merit".

Vanna is a Cambodian given name to either females or males and means "golden" and "golden colored".

In Hebrew, Vanna means "God's gift".

The Russian and Czech variation Ivanna means "God is gracious".

Van is short for the Scottish variation Evan, meaning "Youth" and "God's grace".

The Italian Name day is July 23, in memory of the Blessed Vanna of Orvieto, who died in 1306.

In popular culture[edit]

Dante and Beatrice, by English painter Henry Holiday depicts Beatrice (white dress) with Vanna (red dress) walking along the Arno river as the enamored poet Dante Alighieri looks on.


  • La Vita Nuova, by Dante Alighieri (1294). Vanna is a character inspired and named for a Florentine lady who was the best friend of Beatrice, his true love whom he later immortalizes in The Divine Comedy as the pure soul who awaits him at the gates of heaven.
  • Poetry by Ezra Pound:
    • The Alchemist. In a chant for the transmutation of metals, Pound invokes: "Vanna, Mandetta, Viera, Alodetta, Picarda, Manuela / From the red gleam of copper, [...] O Queen of Cypress, / Out of Erebus, out of the flat waste of air, lying beneath the world; / Out of the brown leaf-brown colourless / Bring the imperceptible cool."[3]
    • The Cantos. The last line of the Canto 93 describes ("un lume pien' di spiriti") "a light full of the spirits [of love]," and finishes with ("e Monna Vanna . . . tu mi fai rimembrar") "and Monna [Lady] Vanna, you cause me to remember [paradise]."[4]

Theater, television, film[edit]

  • Star Trek - Vanna is a character in the original Star Trek television series episode "The Cloud Minders" (1969).[5]
  • Monna Vanna, by Maurice Maeterlinck (1902). The play was the first success in the writer's literary career that, in 1911, was honored with the Nobel Prize for literature. Ayn Rand referred to Monna Vanna " of the greatest plays in all of world literature".[6] Monna Vanna played on every important stage in Europe, except in England, where it was prohibited by censors until 1914.[7][8] The play was produced in Hollywood in 2007 by the Stella Adler theater, the first time since the 20th century.[9]
Monna Vanna - a nude version of the Mona Lisa painted by Salaì.





  1. ^ The Romance of Biography - Vol. 1, Jameson; E Monna Vanna e Monna Bice poi
  2. ^ Cambodian names The beauty and significance of Cambodian names
  3. ^ Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound
  4. ^ Ezra Pound and the Mysteries of Love: A Plan for The Cantos, by Akiko Miyake
  5. ^ Star Trek original series; IMDB) Vanna (Character)
  6. ^ The Ayn Rand Institute Great Plays as Literature and as Philosophy
  7. ^ English Theatre in Transition: 1881-1914, by James Woodfield; p. 118 (1984)
  8. ^ Major Prophets of Today, by Edwin E. Slosson; p. 42
  9. ^ Monna Vanna, Stella Adler Theater
  10. ^ A new Kind of Beauty: Rossetti's Monna Vanna
  • Dante, Vita Nuova. Milano, Garzanti, 1982.
  • Tobias Eisermann, Cavalcanti oder die Poetik der Negativität, Band 17 in Romanica et Comparatistica: Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Studien, herausgegeben von Richard Baum und Willi Hirdt, Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag Brigitte Narr GmbH, 1992; ISBN
  • AA.VV., Antologia della poesia italiana, ed C.Segre and C. Ossola. Torino, Einaudi, 1999
  • Migliorini, B. Storia della lingua Italiana. Firenze, Sansoni, 1987

See also[edit]