Monday, April 04, 2005

Venice - a few clues

It's always an "interesting" experience being in a culture where you don't understand what people are saying, and that was our experience in Venice and NE Italy last week (hence the few day's silence).

Venice is a beautiful city - as were Padua and Treviso. But it is also an incredibly efficient machine for getting money off tourists. The quality of souvenirs, as with many places, varies from the excellent and beautiful to the truly naff. All sorts of places like to compare themselves to glamorous other places - Hamburg describes itself as the Venice of the North, for example - but how about less glamorous comparisons? How about Venice, the Atlantic City of Italy? Venice, the Blackpool of Southern Europe? Only joking .... Anyway, a few thoughts ....

1) Public transport is a cost effective way of getting to Venice city. However, if you arrive in your own car, there are various options.

a) Park in the car park at Tronchetto. This is some way from the city centre - actually the far side of the port. The price is 18 Euros per part of 24 hour period. Of more interest is the fact that you will be steered in the direction of a motorised taxi by a well organised team of men in the car park. This isn't a great problem - we were charged 30 Euros for the five of us to travel one-way from Tronchetto to St Mark's Square. However, for 40 Euros, we could have bought 24 hour tickets for the vaporetti - the water buses. If rather than walking back out of the Tronchetto car park the way we arrived, we'd gone to the other end of the car park - where the cashier was - and kept walking, we'd have arrived at the vaporetti stop, and could have missed this mild "sting".

b) Park at the landside end of the bridge. There are various car parks here; we were charged under 8 Euros to park until 8 pm, and then 25 Euros for the five of us to travel return to Tre Archi, at the edge of Venice city, and on the vaporetto lines.

c) Park in Piazza le Roma. This is 19 Euros per 24 hours - but you don't then have to worry about getting to the city centre.

2)The closer you are to St Mark's Square, the more you pay for just about everything. Also, if you sit outside anywhere in Venice, you will pay more for food and drink. We were charged 14 Euros (about £10) for two cokes and two caffe latte's.

3) Although the vaporetti are very efficient and a pleasant way to get around, there are some real oddities in the system, and having a timetable helps, if one of the kiosks is prepared to part with one. For example, when we wanted to get back to Tronchetto from St Mark's Square, we discovered that there was a gap from about 5 pm until the Night bus service started - about 6 hours. So we had to traipse back over to Rialto to get a different one.

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