Riva degli Schiavoni is a busy thoroughfare. Facing the Bacino San Marco, it is home to a number of 4 and 5 star hotels, one of the vaporetto stops nearest St Marks, the disembarkation jetties of a number of charter cruise companies, and the moorings of the superyachts that visit the city. Add in the to and fro of gondola and water taxi passengers, and it’s not everyone’s idea of a spot to relax.
But if the will is there…
Arguably the world’s most beautiful thoroughfare, it would be wrong of me not to say something about the Grand Canal. An inverted “S” that snakes its way between the six districts (sestiere) of the city, it is easy to think of it as a river rather than a stretch of sea water, it is both showcase and urban motorway combined. It is so important to the life of the city, both as a tourist attraction but also as a means of moving both tourists and residents about, whether in elegant gondolas, functional vaporetti, sleek water taxis, or barge-like topa that are the equivalent of the Ford Transit.
I read a piece by an American traveller recently whose entire plans had been thrown into disruption by the closure of the Canalazzo for the annual Vogalonga, a regatta for human-powered craft that has been run for 40 years in protest at the damage caused by the wakes of powerboats to the historic structures. In typical Italian fashion there had been no prior warning of the cancellation of vaporetti and taxi services as to publicise it would have taken too much organisation! The writer brought her travel plans forward to avoid the disruption. I would have put mine back and recharged the camera batteries!
- Today in Venice is VOGALONGA (mariasourvinou.wordpress.com)
You think of transportation in Venice and the men in boaters and striped shirts spring first to mind, or perhaps the vaporetti or water taxis? In most of the city the only wheels you see are on the carts of porters and the suitcases of fellow tourists. Lido is different, and indeed on of the guide books I’d read warned visitors of the hazard presented by the island’s drivers.
It’s possible that I’m inured to Italian driving, but to me the island’s roads seemed pretty innocuous. There were hundreds of bicycles in use however and several places for visitors to hire them. For the residents though it seemed a popular choice day or night, and it was after dark that the notorious bravado of the Italian road user became apparent. Lighting doesn’t seem to have caught on yet.