General Advice

Santa Chiara Hotel: Perfect for cruisers and luggage luggers

Santa Chiara Hotel, Venice

ABOVE: The Santa Chiara Hotel is next to the Grand Canal and the Piazzale Roma, making it easy to reach from airport buses, taxis, parking, and cruise ships.



V
enice's Santa Chiara Hotel has long been popular with cruise passengers and visitors with heavy luggage, for a simple reason:

It's located along the edge of the Piazzale Roma, just a short walk from airport buses, land taxis, and the People Mover elevated tram to the Tronchetto parking garage and the Marittima cruise terminals.

From the Santa Chiara Hotel, it's easy to reach Venice's historic center on foot:

  • You can cross the Calatrava Bridge (railing in the foreground of the photo above) and continue past the railroad station toward the Piazza San Marco. Or...

  • You can cross a smaller stone bridge behind the hotel to reach Venice's main sights by a less crowded (and, to us, more interesting) route.

In the past, the 500-year-old palazzo-style hotel suffered from a major shortcoming: It was small, so getting a room could be extremely difficult at busy times of the year. Now, with the opening of a modern (and fully-accessible) addition with superior guest rooms and conveniences, the Santa Chiara can accommodate more guests than before.

Still, we recommend booking early to be sure of getting a room at the Santa Chiara Hotel or its annex, the Residenza Parisi. You can always cancel your reservation if you change your mind.

Tip: Our hotel partner, Booking.com, offers guaranteed lowest available rates with free cancellation in most cases. To check rooms and rates, see:

Santa Chiara Hotel and Residenza Parisi

We also suggest viewing this page at our travel-planning site, Venice for Visitors:

Walking Directions to the Santa Chiara Hotel

Finally, here's a nighttime photo of the hotel and the Calatrava Bridge:

Ponte di Calatrava and Hotel Santa Chiara


Can you trust ACTV vaporetto timetables?

Venice San Zaccaria ACTV stop

ABOVE: The No. 7 water bus offers direct service from San Zaccaria (near the Piazza San Marco) to the glassmaking island of Murano, but when we took it in April, the ACTV's official published timetable didn't even show the route (although the ACTV map and station timetables did).



V
enice's ACTV transit system offers a convenient (if expensive) way to get around Venice's historic center. It's also the most practical way to reach Murano, the Lido di Venezia, and other islands in the Venetian Lagoon.

At our travel-planning site, Venice for Visitors, we include a page with links to the ACTV's official route map and timetables, which can help you figure out how to get from point A to B when you're in Venice. But we do feel compelled to share a warning:

The ACTV Web site can be slow to update published timetables!

If you're visiting Venice at the beginning or end of a season (say, in spring or fall), you may find that some routes are missing from the published timetable and some routes have stopped operating for the season.

Fortunately, the ACTV's route map is more reliable than the timetables are. Here's a workable strategy to prevent disappointments or unpleasant surprises when the ACTV's published timetable hasn't been updated quickly enough:

1. Look for routes of interest on the ACTV map. (You can download the map or view it at any ACTV vaporetto station.)

2. Check the ACTV published timetable for information about the route (which may or may not be shown, depending on the time of year).

3. When you're in Venice, go to one of the stations on the boat line that interests you. Look for the route timetable near the waterbus platforms to confirm that the boat is in operation.

The captioned photos below will help you check ACTV route numbers when you're in Venice.



At ACTV waterbus stations, you'll see route numbers displayed above the pontili or floating platforms:

ACTV pontile

ACTV route numbers



Larger stations may have four or more platforms, with station maps to help you find the right pontoon:

ACTV Rialto station map



Once you've found the pontile or platform for the vaporetto line that interests you, look for a route timetable:

ACTV station map and timetable



Tip:
You'll often find a route sign inside the pontile's waiting area. This sign shows the stations where the water bus will stop, so you can plan where to get off before you board the boat.

ACTV vaporetto line map



F
or more information about public and private transit in Venice, see the Venice Transportation and Parking guide at Veniceforvisitors.com.


Dipping in the doo-doo

image

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:

image

ABOVE: A visitor enjoys a fecal footbath. 

image

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

image

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