We had breakfast as usual, but because of the short mileage today (about 16 miles) we didn’t depart until 10:30 AM.
Our route was to travel the length of the island of Pellestrina…all 7 miles of it…mostly along the water, with brief detours inland…then cross to the next island, Lido, via ferry.
At the dock area, there were some informational signs.
The passes we’d bought the day before in Chioggia were not activated until the first ferry ride -today. Elena demonstrated how to validate the tickets. We’d bought a ticket good for 72 hours and the clock started ticking when we boarded the ferry.
Our destination was Lido Island. Like Pellestrina, it is about seven miles long and also narrow. Like everywhere we’ve been, the history here goes back to before Roman times. Lido was of strategic importance when it came to the defense of the Venetian Lagoon area. It wasn’t until more recent times that Lido became popular as a beach destination for the citizens of Venice. It is also the home of the annual Venice International Film Festival.
We began riding along the water’s edge on Lido. We traveled via a variety of paths, roads and walkways.
Suddenly we turned onto a what looked like a small footpath and emerged onto a beachfront sidewalk.
It was obvious that the beach has been heavily fortified to protect it from erosion. There were a variety of man-made structures that have been installed -from large boulders arranged as a barrier closer and parallel to the wall- to cement and rock groins, which are formations built out into the water to control sand deposits.
As we rode along, we started to notice what I called driftwood palaces. it looks like people build their own little beach “huts” with driftwood and pallets. Some were quite simple and some were quite elaborate with roofs and furniture. I kept waiting to see the perfect example for a picture, but when I started to realize I couldn’t see any more up ahead, I stopped and got a couple of photos of these two:
This section of the beach was somewhat “free territory”. Further up the beach is where the fancy hotels take over. There, access to the sand is controlled by the hotels.
We stopped at a restaurant -the only one I saw along this stretch of beach- to eat our lunches.
There was time for a swim for those who wanted to swim. Getting to the sea was an obstacle course! I’d seen cut-throughs in the wall as we were riding, but there wasn’t one in front of the restaurant. We had to climb up onto the wall (it was about 3 feet high on the sidewalk side) and then onto a very rickety wooden staircase.
A short distance after the stairs were some very large chunks of stone that you had to climb up on and over.
At this point we were less than two miles from where we’d be rendezvousing with the Vita Pugna. The group was lingering at the beach because we had time to spare before getting to the barge.
Some of the group wanted to ride ahead so that they could have time explore the town that was a short distance up the beachfront. I assumed that those going ahead were very clear on the meet up location for the barge, so I decided to go with them. Mike didn’t want to go because he had (valid) concerns about separating from the group in general. He stayed back and I took off. Not far down the road, our group was suddenly not so sure of ourselves!
We rode by the fancy hotels up the beach with their fancy beach cabanas. This is the North end of the Hotel Excelsior. A basic room goes for about $630/night and if you add a cabana package – the price goes up a couple of hundred more!
The bike/barge company has GPS-mapped the route, which helped us know where we should go, but I think the meet-up location had been changed and the new spot wasn’t updated on the GPS instructions. Another couple caught up to us and confirmed where the barge would be. Mike was with them because he’d decided to try to catch up to me.
This is the only picture I took in the part of town we passed through -we rode along a tidy little shopping street called Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta -a name longer than the actual street! This the Lion of Venice, which is a symbol of Venice. (More about the Lion in the next installment).
Even though we’d been told us roughly the direction where we needed to go, we were still a bit worried…so we held back near the lion for about 10 minutes to see if the group might roll by. They didn’t, so we decided to go ahead and start riding up the street where we thought we needed to go.
A very short way up that street, we saw that one of the women I’d started out with (and who’d already ridden onward) had ridden back to let us know the meeting spot was confirmed and it was about a mile further up the road. Because she came back to let us know (and I thought it was quite nice of her to come back for us), I thought we’d somehow missed the rest of the group and that everyone was already at the barge waiting for us! I took off as fast as I could, thinking we’d arrive at the barge and see everyone waiting on board and giving us “the look” for holding things up while they waited for us. Turns out, the rest of the group hadn’t shown up yet…whew!!
Julia and the captain putting bikes on the barge while waiting for the rest of the group.
Last glimpse of Lido:
Once everyone was on the barge, we headed across the Venetian Lagoon with the island of Murano (in the Venice area) as our destination. Murano is famous for glass making. I was happy this tour had been arranged for the group because I have always wanted to visit Murano and thought it might not work out this trip.
There were quite a few different showrooms that we wandered through. They did not allow pictures -but it was a crazy variety of blown glass items in all sizes. There were some items that looked more like fused glass than blown, which is the type of glass I do.
We finally arrived in a little gift shop where they had the more “budget” items on display. I wanted to have something from Murano… but I told Mike I wouldn’t buy anything that I could make for myself! Based on the prices of some of the small dishes they had for sale, I think I need to set up shop in Venice. HAH. I bought a very small pair of earrings -because I can’t make beads.
The history of glass-making goes back to Roman times, but Venice emerged as a glass-making location as early as the 700s. By the late 1200s there was a guild of glass makers and they tightly controlled the secrets involved with glass-making. Around 1300 it was decreed that all glass factories should be removed to Murano Island to protect Venice from the threat of fire. Around the same time a law was passed forbidding the skilled glass-makers from leaving the island. Artisans skilled in glass-making had an elevated social status. There was a real effort to keep the skill/knowledge of glass-making within families. Over time, there were many ups and downs for the glass-making industry in Murano, but after WWII, Murano was able to establish itself again as a leader in glass artistry.
After leaving Murano, the Vita Pugna rounded the narrow end of Venice and cruised along the Canale della Guidecca, which is the waterway between Venice and the island of Guidecca. This gave us our first water views of Venice. At long last!!
The most photographed part of Venice is around the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square. I was really happy that I was seeing it for the first time from the water.
After our “drive-by”, we headed to our mooring, which was on the back side of Guidecca Island. At first I was a bit disappointed that we wouldn’t be moored on the Venice side of Guidecca for the picturesque view, but they explained that there’s so much boat traffic in the Guidecca Canal that it would make the rocking and rolling we experienced on Pellestrina the other day seem like dead calm.
There were some lovely houses on the “quiet side” of Guidecca.
Later, I saw the wisdom in where we were were docked. It was quiet and off the beaten path – a peaceful retreat against the hubbub that is Venice.
Categories: Italy 2022: Planes, Trains, Bicycles & Barges!