Thursday, 10 August 2017

Venice by vaporetto

We discovered by accident that day tickets (and perhaps longer seasons) on the ‘little steamships’ or vaporettos (such as the one above lower left) are good value. Though this is the ‘bus service’ of Venice, it’s considerably more fun than a regular bus, most of the time.

Forty euros buys you uno giorno per due (one day ticket x 2 people). This entitles you to unlimited journeys during the day. You can hop on for a couple of stops or sail around the lagoon all day. It not only saves your feet but gives you unusual views of the city (such as The Grand Canal from the middle, below left).

Tip number one: get hold of a route map. The variously numbered vaporettos follow different routes and only small sections of a single route are displayed aboard the vessels. When planning your journey and deciding where you need to change lines it’s a nuisance to rely on the full maps that are only posted (if you’re lucky) at the stops.

Tip number two: make sure you’re at the right stop. Sometimes there are several stops next to each other, each serving different routes, and at a major interchange such as Lido di Venezia the array of stops can be about a hundred yards long. Be particularly careful not to get on the right number vaporetto going in the wrong direction.

Tip number three: you have to present the face of your ticket to an electronic card reader each time you access the boarding pontoon, even if there isn’t a physical barrier to be opened. Having a properly recorded ticket is part of the system and you’re not supposed to be on the landing stage without one, let alone the boat.

Tip number four: it’s great to visit the outlying island stops (such as Burano, right)  but try not to schedule your departure for the same time as everyone else, for example late afternoon when everyone’s thinking of heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Failure to observe this rule may lead to overcrowding on the landing stage and failure to catch the vaporetto you want.

But hey, these are pretty simple rules and there are lots of fascinating places nearby. Venice isn’t just St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs you know. In fact if you go fifty to a hundred yards off the main tourist routes you may well wonder what all the fuss over excessive numbers is about.