Goldon boots keep feet dry during 'acqua alta'

Goldon boots in Piazza San Marco

ABOVE: A man and a woman model Goldon plastic boots in Venice's Piazza San Marco during acqua alta.

From roughly October through April (and, increasingly, at other times of the year), low-lying neighborhoods in Venice's historic center may be flooded for several hours at a time by storm tides called "acqua alta" or "high water."

Although municipal workers set out passerelle or raised wooden walkways in critical locations during acqua alta, there are times when the only way to get around is to go wading. Venetians wear rubber boots (which are available in local hardware stores and other shops), but tourists who don't want to lug a pair of heavy rubber wellies home often settle for inexpensive plastic overshoes. The leading manufacturer of such overshoes is Goldon, and you can buy Goldon's boots from street vendors, souvenir shops, and other local merchants when acqua alta threatens.

Goldon's boots come in three sizes, weigh only 350 grams, and are packed in a small plastic pouch that easily fits into a travel tote or suitcase. The manufacturer's Web site offers the boots for 9,60 euros (yellow) or 10 euros (white or black) for delivery to postal addresses in Italy. If you live abroad, you'll need to buy the boots after you arrive in Venice, but the Goldon Web site is worth visiting so you'll know what to look for.

  • Tip: Some shoes are bulkier than their size might suggest, so if you're wearing clunky shoes at the upper end of a size range, you might want to go a size larger. And if your shoes are bigger than 46 (European) or 12 (U.S.), you may need to try a popular Venetian workaround: wrapping your feet and legs in plastic garbage bags.

For more information in English, visit the Goldon Web site.

To learn more about acqua alta (including the city's warning sirens and acqua alta forecasts), read our illustrated Acqua Alta article at Veniceforvisitors.com. 

BELOW: When walking in Venice's floodwaters, stay away from the edges of canals. AT BOTTOM: A poster for Goldon plastic overshoes.

Acqua Alta and Goldon Boots

Goldon poster

Photos: Goldon

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

Spizzico and Burger King abandon Campo San Luca

Spizzico and Burger King in the Campo San Luca

ABOVE: The windows of Spizzico and Burger King are papered over, and their signs are gone from this building in the Campo San Luca.

Campo San Luca street sign in Venice For years, the large building with arched windows on the Campo San Luca has been shared by Spizzico (an Italian pizza chain owned by Autogrill) and Burger King. Before that, its tenants included McDonald's and another hamburger chain.

Spizzico and Burger King signOn Thursday, we were suprised to see that the Burger King and Spizzico signs were gone, and the windows were papered over. Two small signs on the doors that advertised "400 seats available upstairs" were the only reminders that the premises housed Venice's largest fast-food restaurant until recently.

Venetophiles tend to be snobbish about fast food, but we think it's unfortunate that Spizzico and Burger King are gone. In the handful of times that we stopped in (usually after arriving on a transatlantic flight when we were too tired to go anywhere else), we saw a clientele that ranged from teenagers to hotel workers to military cadets on tight budgets.

With 400 seats upstairs and free restrooms for customers, Spizzico and Burger King offered a place where locals and tourists could eat cheaply, rest their feet for a few minutes, and use a toilet without paying the outrageous €1,50 charged by Venice's municipally-operated facilities.

We hope the restaurant's premises haven't been leased by a clothing retailer (Venice already has more than enough of those), but we're not optimistic. After all, Benetton is taking over the city's main post office, so it wouldn't be surprising to see a Banana Republic or a Jack Wolfskin occupying the former Spizzico and Burger King.