Previous month:
May 2011
Next month:
July 2011

June 2011

Venice Kayak tours

Venice Kayak on the Grand Canal5-vk

ABOVE AND BELOW: Kayacking on the Grand Canal and in St. Mark's Basin.

In the last several years, we've occasionally noticed small flotillas of kayaks in the back canals of Venice. We never gave them much thought until a reader asked about boat rentals, whereupon we discovered Venice Kayak in a Google search.

Venice Kayak near the Rialto Bridge Venice Kayak is owned and operated by two veteran kayak enthusiasts: Marco Ballarin, a kayak/canoe instructor and certified marine guide from Venice, and René Seindal, a Danish historian and sea-kayak adventurer who has lived in Venice since 2008.

The two men offer full-day kayak trips in the city's canals and the Venetian Lagoon, with excursions to the islands of Burano and Torcello for ambitious kayakers. Three- and six-day paddling holidays are another option, as are evening trips in and around the city.

Standard prices are for groups of 2 to 5 persons, with discounts for larger groups (12 maximum). Kayak clubs can request special rates for programs of three days or longer.

For more information on tours, equipment, and prices, see Venice Kayak's English-language Web site at

Venice Kayak in St. Mark's Basin

Photos: Venice Kayak.

Panorama by bus: Shopping Venetian-style

Panorama bus in Marghera

ABOVE: A free bus arrives at the Panorama shopping center in Marghera. 

by Durant and Cheryl Imboden

Updated April, 2016

For serious shopping, most Venetians bypass the likes of Prada, Missoni, and Gucci. They head for local supermarkets such as Conad and the Coop (pronounced "cope"), or--for heavy-duty shopping--to the Panorama hypermarket just outside the mainland port and industrial zone of Marghera, which is served by a free coach from Venice that operates throughout the day.

Panorama is a "big box" store that could be loosely compared to a Wal-Mart or Target Greatland in the United States. (The Panorama chain has 23 stores in the Veneto and neighboring regions of Northern Italy).

In addition to the Panorama hypermarket, the Panorama shopping center in Marghera houses an In's discount grocery store (similar to Aldi), a Benetton outlet (Benetton's corporate headquarters are in nearby Treviso), a SME appliance and electronics store (where Cheryl was impressed by the largest display of steam irons that she'd ever seen), and several other retailers.

Most tourists needn't bother to visit Panorama, but if you're in Venice for weeks or even months, you may find it worthwhile to catch the free shoppers' bus from the Piazzale Roma. You'll save money on basics like pasta and toilet paper, and you'll get to see how ordinary Venetians spend the money that they've earned from rowing gondolas, selling masks, making pizza, or teaching Italian to foreigners.

Where to catch the bus: 

The Panorama bus leaves from Piazzale Roma, the large square where buses, cars, and taxis drop off and pick up passengers at the edge of Venice's historic center.

Look for a sign that reads "Auriga Tours S.r.l. on a metal post near the ATVO airport buses, just across from the tram platforms. On the same post, you'll see the Panorama timetable:

Auriga Tours and Panorama bus sign

As this post's last update in spring, 2016, the bus ran seven days a week (sometimes with a smaller van rather than a full-size coach).

Click here for a larger and more readable version of this timetable:

Panorama bus navetta gratiuito - timetable

ere are some Panorama bus photos from a previous excursion:

Panorama bus at Piazzale Roma in Venice

ABOVE: In this photo, a Panorama bus has just arrived at the Piazzale Roma in Venice, and shoppers are removing their purchases from the luggage compartment.

Panorama shopper

ABOVE: In theory, passengers are supposed to offer proof that they've spent at least four euros at the Panorama center when boarding the bus for the return trip. In practice, the rule is seldom enforced, so this heavy-duty shopper didn't need to show the driver her wad of receipts.

T1 tram in Piazzale Roma

ABOVE: Buses and trams (T1, change to T2) also run from Piazzale Roma to Panorama. But why buy a transit ticket when you can travel for free in a luxury coach?

Photos: Cheryl Imboden