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The driving rules in the lagoon are pretty much the same as within the city limits, but I found that some drivers (mostly motor taxis) kind of set out a bit faster, once they have reached open waters. There is speed limit, however, but not everyone accepts this. The lagoon is laid out with water streets, to avoid chaos and also to keep the boat traffic (thus water stirring and increased oxygen level) a bit more in order. And also, of course, as the lagoon is shallow (otherwise it would not be a lagoon), the water streets are the ones where navigation is safe and where no one would risk to end up on a sand bank.
The water “roads” are marked with poles, and if you look close, you’ll see that these poles are different in size and number. The poles margining the navigable water are small and grouped as 3, the briccole (one is a briccola); photo 4. In addition to the briccole, but in a more “disorganised” way, mede (one is meda), single poles of different size, also mark the course of navigable water (photo 5). In addition, briccole do also have a number, which stands for the "street". All these water ways are given in the navigation charts for the lagoon.
Where two or more main water channels meet, it is recognisable by the dame (one is a dama), 4 poles, the one in the middle being bigger/higher (photo 1 and 2).
In cases where bigger water streets cross, a whole bunch of poles is put together, as in photo 3. This one was taken at Venezia’s northeastern side.
On these first two photos, also the international designations for positioning: port (red) and starboard (green).
Updated Jun 22, 2007
When I first heard of "The People Mover," I thought it was a sort of moving walkway such as you find in lots of airports. In reality, the People Mover is actually dual monorails which take cruise ship passengers from the Piazzale Roma closer to the gate of the Port of Venice known locally as the Bachino Stazione Marittima; however, the "Mover" goes as far as "Tronchetto" where people from the mainland park their cars when coming into the city or before taking the Lido ferry.
The People Mover Station is located at the end of the same building in which the ATVO Terminal Office is located. Crossing the street to reach it can be challenging. Entering the ground floor of the station, you purchase your ticket (biglietto) from a ticket machine (1 Euro = 2011 price) and ascend by escalator to the 2nd level where the two monorails track platforms are. Boarding alternates from track to track or side to side as one of the monorails comes into the station.
Note: Once you leave "The People Mover," don't expect to find yourself at the cruise ship terminal. You must walk (with luggage of course) from there to the port gate and from there to the appropriate terminal building of your cruise ship line. This may be a longer walk than you might wish, but if you have not purchased transfers from your cruise line and are coming directly from Piazzale Roma following your arrival from the airport by bus or your stay in town, "The People Mover" is your best choice. AND, the distance between the Piazzale Roma and the Port of Venice IS NOT really walkable.
Updated Jun 30, 2011
Venice is easy to get around, there are no cars or trains in the historic city center. Most sights are easily accessible on foot, though.
Far distances can be covered with the very popular vaporetto (little vapor). The name dates from when the boats were run by steam.
There are three types of boat:
the "vaporetto," a flat-decked boat used on routes inside the city;
the "motoscafo" used for routes into the Lagoon. It is smaller and able to pass under low bridges and in narrow canals;
the "motonave" is large double-decked ship used for commuter service to the Lido.
Line No.1 zigzags between 20 stations on its way from the Piazzale Roma to the Lido;
the No.2 express line, formerly numbered 82, runs from San Zaccaria (above the Piazza San Marco) through the Giudecca Canal to the Piazzale Roma, and the railway station.
No.3 line for Venice residents and for those in possession of a CartaVenezia or Tessera di Abbonamento only. Depart every 20 minutes from Piazzale Roma, covers the same stops as Line 1, and end at San Marco.
If you have any questions about the vaporetto, lines, tickets, and ACTV during your visit, you can call HelloVenezia at +39 041 2424.
At the front of every stops there is a counter, where you can purchase your ticket.
A single ticket is quite expensive: it costs € 6.50. Be sure to validate your ticket before boarding the boat. Simply insert it in the yellow ticket machine which stamps your ticket automatically.
It is more better if you might want to buy a 24-hour ticket ("biglietto ventiquattro ore") for € 12.00 right away. It gives you access to Venice for a whole day. If you board at a stop that doesn't have a ticket office, after boarding immediately ask for a biglietto. Otherwise, you could be fined heavily for traveling without a ticket.
Another but more expensive option is the Venice Card, which is available in 3 or 7 days version (€70.00 and €90.00 )includes benefits such as admission to city-owned museums and free use of public toilets.
Warning: Private water taxis are expensive. You need a mortgage to afford them, if you make it a habit. The fare from Marco Polo Airport to a hotel in central location may reach €100; a trip within the historic center costs €30 at least. Water taxis run under the collective name of "motoscafi" (not ACTV motoscafo!!)
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Phone: +39 041 2424
Now as Venezia is built on water, I found it very much fascinating how this is “organised”, compared to the streets we are used to drive on. It is practically the same, they have the same or similar signs as we are used to. There are main canales which have right of way - of course Canal Grande and some other, bigger ones. The smaller canales are often senso unico, which means one-way-canal (photo 1); consequently, passage is forbidden from the other side (photo 3). As they are quite narrow, it is logical that oncoming traffic would make navigation difficult. Most of the small canales are also only navigable for the gondolas (photo 2).
From what I did see, gondolas have the right of way in most of the cases, as even with their enormous navigation skills, it is still tricky to move them along. I have read another fun description of the canal navigation rules: priority to rift over leght (no, no typing error). It means that boats navigate on the right side of the canals, gondolas on the left, as their rudders are on the right side of the boat. And if boat and gondola cross their ways - well, then it is rift or leght, haha :-)
This also means that motor driven boats are mostly not allowed in the small canales, except if they are service boats, such as garbage collection or police or ambulace. Most of the motor driven boats have old tyres mounted at the side so that they won’t scratch or damage the boats that are docked at the houses (photo 4). Another reason why motor traffic is not allowed in the smaller canales is of course to reduce the impact of too much stirred water, thus oxygen level of the water, thus negative impact on the houses’ fundament. Keep this in mind please when thinking about to take a motor taxi – most probably they won’t be allowed to bring you directly in front of your hotel.
Updated Jun 22, 2007
Of course, boats drive around the lagoon night and day, and so it is only logical that the waterways are illuminated in the night. On top of the briccole and mede (see previous one) lamps are mounted to make navigation easy. As this involves the vast laying of underwater electrical cables, bigger metal poles with spherelike tops are placed next to some of the briccole and mede with junction boxes. And to make sure that no one lets go anchor here, big signs warn to stay off these areas.
Canal Grande, by the way, is not much illuminated in the night. Oops, not in the evening, as the lights from vaporetto stations, houses, restaurants and fondamentas gives enough light. I don’t know for the middle of the night though. But then the occasional “street” lamp will illuminate the water boulevard. No briccole, mede or any other of these poles are in the Canalazzo.
Updated Jun 14, 2007
I have mentioned in a previous tip that on this trip we stayed in Venice before and after our Eastern Mediterranean cruise. One exceptional feature of the cruise was that after boarding the ship, it remained in port that night so that we had at least another 8 hours to spend exploring Venice the next day.
We intended to go back to Piazza San Marco by way of The People Mover to Piazzale Roma and then walking from there. However, at the port we saw the station for the Alilaguna Boats and a short line of people. These boats were incredibly comfortable with sufficient seating for everyone. Most seats were in the enclosed area of the boat but there were about 5-6 seats aft that were open-air. The boats travel between Stazione Marittima and San Marco every 20 minutes which is very convenient.
Soon we were off to the Piazza San Marco along the Canale della Guidecca. It was such a pleasant ride that we were able to appreciate wonderful views of the Doroduro, the Fondemente delle Zattere, Guidecca and the Santa Maria della Salute from an excellent waterside perspective.
I decidedly preferred the Alilaguna boats to the Vaporetti which were overcrowded, uncomfortable and excruciatingly slow. What's more, the price of 6,50 Euros is the same as the Vaporetti which with the unfavorable US Dollar exchange rate of May, 2011, made a ride on either of these conveyances the equivalent of US $10.08----incredibly expensive for the vaporetto, in my opinion!! However the same price for the Alilaguna boat did not bother me quite as much because the ride seemed like more of an experience rather than merely transportation.
The Alilaguna boats do not transit the Grand Canal to my knowledge and as such this transportation is best suited to passengers at the Port of Venice who wish to travel between the port and the Piazza San Marco!!!
An alternative would be to take the People Mover from the Port of Venice to the Piazzale Roma, then take a vaporetto to your selected destination, or for those who are able, to walk from the Piazzale Roma to your selected destination.
Updated Jul 5, 2011
Sadly, it was time to leave Venice. That was bad enough. What really hurt was the early flight we had booked to Palermo. There didn't seem to be any economically efficient way to get there on time (pre-VT...1st time Venice visit). We decided to share a very expensive water taxi ride with our traveling companions. The silver lining came in the form of the fabulous Venetian sunrise you see here. Not being a morning person, I'd seen more "sunsets" than rises. Might have to change my ways...or not.
Written Sep 16, 2004
The only public means of transportation in the city center are via water taxis on the canals. The vaporetti and passenger -bearing speedboats can traverse only on the largest canals including the Grand Canal. Boats and gonodolas though, can insinuate themselves into the narrowest waterwyas and are advised for those who want to preserve a particularly romatic memory of the city. The gondolas are rather smelly...due to the smelly (in places) canals.
Water taxis are very efficient.
Updated Feb 16, 2009
S.Lucia (Santa Lucia) is the name of Venice's Train Station.
If you get off in Mestre, Venice then you haven't reached Venice yet. You must first cross the Liberty Bridge and Venice is the end of the line.
S.Lucia Train Station is located in the sestiere of Cannaregio. The public transportation, called Vaporetto, has stops for lines ný 1 and ný 52 (to your right as you leave the station) and ný 82 (to your left as you leave the station) on the Grand Canal.
Written May 17, 2004
The Marco Polo Airport is located 12 km over land and 10 km over water from Venice and is well connected to the city by public transportation lines (water and land) and to the rail station in Mestre.
The slip road opened in 1991 connects the Marco Polo airport directly to the roadway network. The airport serves the entire tri-region of Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Trentino Alto Adige. Distances in kilometres:
25 Km from Treviso
32 Km from Padua
45 Km from Jesolo
65 Km from Vicenza
public bus service
speed boat service
Written May 17, 2004
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