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February 2017

Venice trades showers for toilets

Comune di Venezia - Docce Pubbliche photo

Venetians and Venetophiles often wax nostalgic about the days when central Venice had more than 150,000 residents. (Since World War II, the centro storico's population has dropped to about 58,000.) They conveniently forget how many of those old-time Venetians lived in overcrowded apartments without modern conveniences.

In the photo above, you can see the entrance to municipal showers in the city center where poorer Venetians once went to bathe. Today, the showers are gone, having been replaced by public toilets.

The toilets are expensive--1,50 euros for tourists, less for locals--so it shouldn't be surprising that some visitors and residents whiz directly into canals. (And why not, you may ask, since most of Venice's raw sewage is flushed into the canals anyway?) This is not a good idea, especially if you've been drinking, since tipsy tinklers have been known to slip, fall into canals, and drown. We once saw a body floating in a canal near our apartment in San Polo the morning after Martedi Grasso, or "Fat Tuesday," when boozing and canalside urination are rampant.


Gondolas4all: wheelchair-accessible gondola rides

ABOVE: This video from Gondolas4all shows how the service works. (If you'd like to donate to the nonprofit project, click the "Donate Today!" ad in the video.)

Venice is a more accessible city than you might guess, despite its more than 400 footbridges--nearly all with steps. If you plan your sightseeing carefully, you can explore much of the city center by wheelchair over level pavement, using the public vaporetti (water buses) to get from one accessible area to the next. (We cover the basics in our "Accessible Venice" article at Veniceforvisitors.com.)

Still, until recently, you were out of luck if you wanted to enjoy one classic Venice sightseeing experience in a wheelchair: taking a gondola ride. Gondolas4all, a project that launched in spring of 2016, has rendered that limitation obsolete with a wheelchair-friendly pier and gondola next to the Piazzale Roma on the edge of Venice's historic center.

The Gondolas4all pier has a mechanical lift that picks up your wheelchair, slides it horizontally over the gondola, and lowers the wheelchair into the boat. And that's it: Once the wheelchair is in the boat, you and your companions enjoy a standard gondola ride.

For more about Gondolas4all, including a booking form, visit:

www.gondolas4all.com

To see a first-person account of a gondola ride in an electric wheelchair with Gondolas4all with a video), go to:

Martyn Sibley: Gondolas4All in Venice


Where to find Gondolas4all:

The Gondolas4all pier is on the Fondamenta Cossetti, just south of the wheelchair-accessible Hotel Santa Chiara on the Rio Novo next to the Piazzale Roma.

Use the Google Map below to find it, and be sure to book your ride ahead of time. (Gondolas4All is in the rectangular notch on the left side of the canal below the words "Rio Novo." If you zoom in, you'll see "Gondolas4all" on the Google Maps 3D view.)


Five hotels near Venice's Piazzale Roma

These 5 hotels are just a short walk from Venice's airport buses, land taxis, and People Mover (which serves the Tronchetto parking garage and the Marittima cruise terminals).


 

The Piazzale Roma is a transportation hub on the edge of Venice's historic center. It's the last place that you can reach by land taxi, airport bus, car, or bicycle before you enter the citywide pedestrian zone.

In our Venice Hotel Guide at Venice for Visitors, we have articles about hotels that are convenient to airport transportation, the railroad station, the cruise terminals, and other locations (including hotels within a 10- to 15-minute walk of the Piazzale Roma).

In this post, we'll focus on just five hotels that are either directly on the Piazzale Roma or a couple of minutes away with only one small bridge to cross.


Directly on the Piazzale Roma:

Hotel Santa Chiara, Venice

Hotel Santa Chiara ****

The Santa Chiara is at the northwest corner of the Piazzale Roma, next to the Ponte della Costituzione or Calatrava Bridge that crosses the Grand Canal to the Venezia Santa Lucia railroad station.

The hotel has 40 rooms--some in the original historic palazzo, some in a fancy new wing, and a few in an annex (the Residenza Parisi). Wi-Fi is free, and parking is available nearby for a fee. For more information, click the link above or go directly to the Hotel Santa Chiara pages at Booking.com.

Ca' Doge, Venice

Ca' Doge

The Ca' Doge is a small inn that faces the People Mover station, where automated trams provide frequent, inexpensive service to the Tronchetto parking island and the cruise terminals at Marittima.

In addition to its six rooms, Ca' Doge has a private parking lot on the premises, which makes it unique in central Venice.

The inn's location isn't lovely, but it's perfectly safe, and it's convenient if you're arriving or departing with heavy or bulky luggage.

For more information, click the link above or see the Ca' Doge pages at Booking.com.


One small bridge away from Piazzale Roma:

Hotel Papadopoli Venezia

Hotel Papadopoli Venezia ****

The Papadopoli (named after a noble Venetian family of the 1700s) is part of the McGallery Collection of boutique hotels operated by Sofitel, an upscale French hotel group.

The hotel has 97 rooms, a restaurant, and a bar with a private library. It's only two minutes or so from the Piazzale Roma over a low stone bridge that's easy to cross with luggage.

For more information, click the link above or go directly to the Hotel Papadopoli Venezia pages at Booking.com.

Hotel Arlecchino, Venice

Hotel Arlecchino *

The three-star "Hotel Harlequin" is extremely easy to reach from the Piazzale Roma. You just walk through the trees at the edge of the square to a canal, turn right, cross a small bridge, and there you are.

The Arlecchino has 24 rooms, and we suggest spending a little more for a room with a canal view.

For more information, click the link above or go directly to the Hotel Arlecchino pages at Booking.com.

 Best Western Hotel Olimpia, Venice

Hotel Olimpia ***

The Best Western Hotel Olimpia is a sister property of the Hotel Arlecchino. It's just to the right of the latter as you cross the footbridge from the Piazzale Roma.

The hotel has 35 rooms and suites, a private garden, and a bar.

For more information, click the link above or see the Hotel Olimpia pages at Booking.com.