Welcome to the Venice Travel Blog

Cheryl Imboden with Venice map
Venice Travel Blog is an extension of our travel-planning Web site, Venice for Visitors, which PC Magazine has called "the premier visitors' site for Venice, Italy." We hope you'll visit often, and we invite you to post your comments about traveling or living in Venice. If you're fond of animals, take a look at our dog blog, Maggie in Venice: A Bearded Collie's Adventures in Italy.

Finally, if you're traveling to Venice for the first time, don't miss our "Introducing Venice" article at Veniceforvisitors.com.

- Durant and Cheryl Imboden

Dipping in the doo-doo


ABOVE: Before cooling your heels in Venice's canals, put on latex socks.

In the summer months, it isn't uncommon to see tourists dipping their toes or feet into Venice's canals, presumably in an effort to keep cool.

Before emulating those clueless or intrepid visitors, consider this: An estimated 90 percent of Venice's human waste is flushed directly into the city's canals, and a public-health study detected Hepatitis A virus and enteroviruses in 78 percent of the canals that were tested over a two-year period from 2003 to 2005.

Venice's canal-based sewer system is more than a thousand years old, and it continues to work well by medieval or pre-Victorian standards.

The principle is simple: Venice's canals are flushed by tides twice a day, and the receding tides pull waste from the canals into the Venetian Lagoon and ultimately toward the Adriatic Sea. As a bonus, saltwater has a mild sanitizing effect. (Dilution helps, too--there's far water in a Venice canal than in a typical sewer pipe.)

Critics point out that detergents and other modern "grey water" pollutants interfere with the natural breakdown of fecal matter. That may be true, but even if it weren't, the fact remains that dumping raw sewage into public waterways isn't acceptable in the 21st Century.

The city has made some efforts on the sewerage front--renovated properties are theoretically required to have pozzi neri or septic tanks, for example--but for the most part, building drains flush directly into the canals, and the gospel song Wade in the Water is bad advice for visitors to Venice.

 More photos:


ABOVE: A visitor enjoys a fecal footbath. 


ABOVE: During acqua alta (tidal flooding), water from Venice's polluted canals oozes into the streets.


ABOVE: A pozzo nero ("black well") boat sucks out a septic tank at a bar near the Campo San Giacomo dall'Orio.

No bicycling in Venice: an update


ABOVE: A bicyclist poses as a passerby takes his photo on a footbridge.

Back in 2010, we wrote a Stupid Tourist Tricks post titled "Bicycling in Venice" that showed visitors taking two-wheelers into Venice's historic center. Bicycling in the city center was illegal then, and it still is--although you might never guess it from the number of clueless or rebellious tourists who can be seen with bikes near Venice's railroad station and Piazzale Roma.

To be fair, the prohibition against bicycles may not be obvious to visitors who haven't done their research, and not all offenders are tourists. (A few years ago, we often saw a local man arrive by bicycle at his workplace near the Campo Santa Margherita in Venice's Dorsoduro district.) 

A suggestion to Venice's authorities: Place "No bicycles allowed in Venice" signs near the exits from the Piazzale Roma and the Santa Lucia Railroad Station, and make it more obvious where visitors can park their bikes. That way, bicyclists wouldn't have an excuse for bringing their biciclette into the city center.

More photos:


ABOVE: A pair of bicyclists enter Venice's Santa Lucia Railroad Station from the pedestrian zone.


ABOVE: Another bicycling couple roll their bikes across the Calatrava Bridge between the railroad station and the Piazzale Roma.


ABOVE: A visitor hauls his bike over the Scalzi Bridge near the railroad station.


ABOVE: A man explores the city center on what appears to be a folding unicycle with training wheels.

Take an opera cruise from Venice


ABOVE: La Bella Vita cruises in Italy's Po River Delta between Venice and Mantua.

In 2015, European Waterways is offering two opera-themed cruises aboard La Bella Vita, a luxury hotel barge that cruises between Venice and Mantua.

Each opera package will include a pre-cruise "Night at the Opera" with premium seating in the Arena di Verona, a former Roman amphitheatre in Verona (an easy drive from Padua, where you'll spend a night before boarding the hotel barge in Venice).

The dates of the two opera-themed cruises are:

  • July 11-18, featuring Puccini's Tosca.

  • September 5-12, featuring Verdi's Nabucco.

Other opera-related activities include:

  • A visit to the Arena Museo opera museum in Verona.

  • A private performance by an opera quartet aboard La Bella Vita. (We've heard the quartet, and they put on a great show.)

  • Shore excursions to baroque theatres and opera houses such as Venice's Gran Teatro La Fenice.

imageIn addition to the opera performances and activities, you'll enjoy the experience of cruising from Venice to Mantua via the Venetian Lagoon and the Po River, with a memorable overnight stay on Venice's historic waterfront.

USD prices for the cruise, pre-cruise overnight stay in Padua, and opera performance in Verona start at $5,140 per person, double occupancy.

For more information, see the La Bella Vita - Opera Cruise itinerary and La Bella Vita Barge pages at the European Waterways Web site

We also suggest reading our illustrated La Bella Vita Barge Cruise Review at Europeforcruisers.com, which describes our own cruise from Venice to Mantua with European Waterways.

BELOW: Outside the Roman Arena in Verona, where you'll see Tosca or Nabucco during your opera-themed La Bella Vita cruise.