Although I was aware of this form of transport, it wasn't until my visit during Christmas 2007, that I had the chance to travel across the Grand Canal this way. I'd watched people getting on and off the craft at San Sofia, near the Rialto Markets. Some seemed to have more difficulties than others, especially a group of 'well heeled' ladies of a certain age wrapped in fur coats, who clung to each other in terror! - Quite amusing to watch each departure and arrival
I waited until a bit later in the day, before handing over my 50 cents to the 'gondolier' at the San Tomo station ( 2015, I think the price is now nearer 2 Euros for tourists) and shuffled along the vessel, until I was standing next to a solid looking gentleman - I was determined to stand all the way - sitting down is for wusses, or locals that have young children in tow, elderly or infirm.
The traghetti are gondolas that have finished their run in the tourist trade, and are manouvered by 2 'gondoliers' - 1 steering with a pole from each end.
As I mentioned before, this is the transport choice for the local residents, so it's probably best not to be 'The Ugly Tourist' waving Your cameras around, posing for group shots, Shouting to Your friends or moving around, trying to make the traghetti wobble etc.
The traghetto was soon leaving dry land, and turning around, so we were facing away from our destination.
Despite the busy waterway of the Grand Canal, my short journey was quite smooth and un-eventful
8 routes operate, and are identified by signs similar to in my picture (2) below- signs on streets/ campos nearby also show directions.
1. Ferrovia - Piazzole Roma
2. Fondaco dei Turchi - San Marcuola
3. Pescheria - S Sofia
4. Fondamente del Vin - Riva del Carbon
5. S. Toma - S Angelo
6. Ca' Rezzonico - S. Samuele
7. S. Gregorio - S Maria del Giglio
8. Punta della Dogana - S Marco
Information boards at each station give times of operation, fares etc.
More Information about Traghetti
Even though Canal Grande has a lot of vaporetto stops, you might like to take a traghetto to cross it. But ... in comparison to 2007 when I was in Venice last time prices must have increased drastically.
In 2007 it was a reasonable way to have the experience of a gondola ride without having to pay the rather high price of a gondola ride for you alone. These traghetti hold up to 14 people but one has to stand rather than sit. They are being rowed by two gondoliere: one at the rear and one at the front. In the past, Venezia had approximately 50 traghetto “lines”, but by now only seven are remaining. Maybe because of the vaporetti and the general high traffic in Canal Grande although traghetti have the right of way in Canal Grande.
The prices.... In 2007 one ride cost 0,70 Euro. And the current prices? On a private website I found that the prices in 2014 were already 4 Euro per ride. This is more than half of a single vaporetto ride.
Signs “al traghetto” lead way to the stops at the canal. The waiting area is usually like a small patio nicely decorated with plants (photo 2). A green lantern (photo 3) shows the stops from the canal side.
And then there is “Calle del Traghetto” which seem to have been a street where many traghetto rowers must have lived :-)
© Ingrid D., June 2007 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.). Update June 2015: wording.
Before we went on your trip to Italy (Venice), our instructor mentioned that if we wanted to travel across the Grand Canal like the locals do, then we should use the traghetto (literally means "between sections"). So that's what we did...we used the Traghetto Santa Sofia. It's quick, easy and inexpensive (approx. 50 centesimi euro ).
Next to our hotel was one of the 7 Traghetto crossings of the Grand Canal.
Ours was going from Campo Santa Sofia, close to the Ca'D'Oro, to the Pescheria the fish market.
These are old gondolas stripped of their brocaded chairs and luxury trimmings. They are rowed by two oarsmen: one who stands in the back like a traditional gondolier, the other closer to the bow.
From my photo you can see that they transport a dozen persons standing in the boat.
That's precisely what I don't like, standing in such a gondola which is lying rather low on the water.
At that moment of my photo there were no waves from the vaporetto's or other motor barges; but what if some standing passenger looses equilibrium? Swimming in the Grand Canal might be an unforgettable travel souvenir.
Price is 0.50 €.
Hereafter the list and hours:
San Stefano / San Toma (7.00 - 20.00 h; Sunday 8.00 - 19.00h)
Ferrovia / S. Simeone (8.00 - 14.00 h; Sunday closed)
Riva del Carbon / Riva del Vin (8.00 - 14.00 h; Sunday closed)
San Marco (Giardini Reale) / Dogana da Mar (09.00 - 14.00 h)
Santa Maria del Giglio / Salute (08.00 - 18.55 h; Winter 09.00 - 18.00 h)
San Samuele / Ca' Rezzonico (07.40 - 13.15 h; closed Sundays)
San Sofia / Pescheria (07.00 - 20.55 h; Sunday 07.30 - 18.55 h)
You figured out that a traghetto is a cheap way to ride in a gondola, but now you ask yourself, "where do I find one?"
Here, in the two photos, you can see how to find out how to find the many traghetti that go across the canal and cost only 50 cents (euro).
Look at the canal and find the ride line going across the canal. Straight across....that is the difference. Now go to that point on the map and you will see bunches of people riding back and forth. You might have to wait one load, 5 minutes or so, but it is worth it.
These places are at San Marcuola, Santa Sofia, San Tomà, San Samuele, Santa Maria del Giglio, and the Dogana.
After all that walking.. and getting lost, now it is time to go cheap and take a short cut.
This tip is being offered to anyone who needs to watch their pocketbook.
The first time I was in Venice, the Gondolier told me..."100 euros for a ride" and he did not even say how long. My mind is thinking, "how much will this be a minute on average?"
I managed to bargain with the fellow, and rode in his gondola. But on the next trip to Venice I knew about the Traghetti boats that go across the canal. They are also a gondola boat, just not as long and romantic. Here is the info:
A ride will probably cost you 50 Eurocents. YES, that is the price! This service is set up for the locals to get across the canal. And they are not going to tell the tourist much about it. But now YOU know. You wait at the dock, step down into the gondola, and in 7 minutes you are across the canal to the other side. Don't look for a ticket booth, just pay the gondolier as you get in the boat. Careful when getting in, the boat has a delicate balance.
How to find where the traghetti are: Look on the expensive map you bought....there are dotted paths across the canal in many places. That's where you find them: Six embarcation spots, at Santa Sofia, San Samuele, San Toma, San Marcuola (not St. Marks), Santa Maria del Giglio, and Dogana.
Now this ride cannot compare with the romantic ride of the gondolas that go away from the busy big canal and wind through the small, peaceful canals, but for anyone watching their budget this is a good choice, and at this price you can repeat the experience at several different places for photo ops.
Now there is no reason for anyone to go home without being able to tell everyone that they rode in a gondola.
Note that I also have a tip on the gondola parking lot with photos.
In my opinion, gondola rides are the biggest tourist trap in Venice. No only do they not seem romantic at all, but they are ridiculously expensive. But if you still want to get the feeling of riding in a gondola without having to cut down on expenses for the rest of your trip, then the best thing to do is to ride the traghetto. A traghetto is basically an old gondola that's used to cross the Grand Canal, something that is actually quite convenient since there are only four bridges crossing it so it might save you quite a bit of walking. There are seven traghetto stations in Venice, and here's the best part: it only costs 50 cents per person to ride it!
Most people don't realize that there are only four bridges in Venice that cross the grand canal. If you aren't close to one of them, your options for crossing are to wait for a vaporetto and take it to the next stop across the canal or you can use a traghetto.
These are gondolas that are used to go across the canal. Interestingly, locals usually stand as they go across, so it's easy to pick out the tourists - just look for the people sitting.
The price for a traghetto crossing is just .50 Euro.
A gondola ride will probably cost you 50 Euros at least. If you are in a real tight budget but you will to have a taste of a gondola ride, you can have a 50 Eurocents experience using the Venice crossing canal service.
If you look at any decent map of Venice you will notice that once in awhile along the Canal Grande there are dotted paths that go from one side to the other. There are the places you want to go. Besides several bridges to cross the Canal Grande, Venice offer a pubblic service of gondolas (called Traghetti) that go back and forth all day long from six predefined spot: San Marcuola, Santa Sofia, San Tomà, San Samuele, Santa Maria del Giglio, and the Dogana.
Of course you cant expect to have a real romantic experience, sometimes they fill up the gondola so much that you have to stand instead of sit down, but sure the experience worth 50 cents!! and you can decide to invest a couple of Euros and do it again and again :-))))
A traghetto is a gondola ferry, a traditional and efficient way to cross the Grand Canal.
Seven traghetto points between San Marco and the railway station allow you to cross the Grand Canal for less than the price of an espresso, without having to squeeze over the bridges or to take a vaporetto.
Campo del Traghetto - Calle Lanza (near the Salute Church);
San Samuele - Ca' Rezzónico;
Sant' Angelo - San Tomà;
Riva del Carbòn - Fondamente del Vin;
Santa Sofia (near Ca' D'Oro) - Pescaria (fish market);
San Marcuola - Fóndaco dei Turchi (at the Natural History Museum);
Fondamente S. Lucia (in front of the Railway Station) - Fondamenta San Simeón Piccolo;
Taking the traghetto will give you a taste for a gondola ride at a fraction of the cost and you will get to do it with true Venetians; the only con or added bonus, depending on your point of view, is that you must do it standing up.
People typically stay standing on the short traghetto trips. Out in the lagoon the trip is longer and the water is choppier, so people are sitting down for the trip.
The traghetto is a far less romantic experience — you are usually crammed in — but at least you can say you've done the gondola thing. It's traditional to stand during the crossing, but you're welcome to use a seat if there is any. Hand €0,50 to the oarsman as you leave the boat. If you don't have exact change, try to pay with one- or two-euro coins instead of banknotes.
Warning: A real gondola ride is not cheap! You have to pay min. €80 for a 45 minute serenade experience! It is worthwhile, however, in a certain cases; local legend promises eternal love to couples that kiss on a gondola ride at sunset under every bridge, especially the "Ponte dei Sospiri". But the world famous “Singing Gondolier” has more legendary connotations, and serenades on board gondolas are therefore performed by teams of professional musicians.
If you don't have the budget for a romantic gondola ride, perhaps a traghetto ride would suffice? Billed the poor man's gondola, a traghetto is the same as the gondola except that it operates as means to cross the Grand Canal at places where there are no bridges - and people stand rather than sit pretty and pay EUR 0.60 per person. I haven't taken any fancy riding them, but took this snap of a traghetto.
Until 1854, the Rialto bridge was the only bridge across the Grand Canal. Even now, there are only three bridges If you need to cross the canal and you aren't near a bridge, you have two good choices. Take the No. 1 or 82 vaporetto, which zig-zags from one bank to the other as it follows the Grand Canal, or head for the nearest traghetto pier and be rowed to the other side for about 40 euro cents (circa 2003). It'll be your cheapest (and quickest) gondola ride in Venice.
Traghetto means "ferry" in Italian. On the Grand Canal, traghetti are the passenger boats that cross the canal and there are seven points between the railroad station (top end) and St. Mark's Basin (bottom end of the Grand Canal). The boats are old gondolas that have been stripped down & don't have the nice seats. They are rowed by two oarsmen: one who stands behind the passengers like a traditional gondolier, the other closer to the bow.
A small warning - you stand up when you ride a traghetto and it usually doesn't take off until it's full of passengers. It's a fun ride when there is a Vaporetto coming toward you!