Doing the Lido Shuffle Out of Venice

August 12, 2012 / 4 Comments

When morning arrives, so do the tourists.

It is not my habit to visit popular tourist destinations in the high season, but here I am in Venice in August when the population of 60,000 swells to a million or more. Considering that each of us will pelt the natives with some version of this question, “Do you speak…” as a prelude to some other question, the Venetians show remarkable good spirits and enough patience to make every one of the saints adorning walls and piazzas very proud indeed.

Religious icons adorn piazzas all over Venice

But this year, a stroke of good timing in the schedules of two of my sons, Sam and Joseph, allowed them to join my husband and I on our trip to Italy and we wanted to show them this most remarkable city even if that meant joining the hoards in August and arriving with some ambivalence.

It is a city of such beauty, with treats round every curve in the street and bend in the canal but jammed packed as it is, it has an artificial Disneyland-like atmosphere.

So after the requisite visit to St. Marco’s Square, we took the advice of Sandra, our hostess at our airbnb accommodation and ran away.

“Run away,” she told us after settling us into our spacious apartment behind Campo Santa Martina. She drew arrows and circles on our map and firmly told us, “go here and here and here, get out and run away.”  And so we did.

Even the laundry is beautiful here.

In the quiet neighborhood behind Giardini Biennale we enjoyed the colors of the laundry hanging out to dry high above our heads, and watched the workers in a marina full of boats but devoid of any tourists except us.

The marina on the Via Piave

And after a challenging follow-the-map-or-be-lost-forever, we found the tiny dock where the public gondola would take us across the Grand Canal to Campo San Sofia (for the unbelievably low price of 2 euros, though residents pay just fifty cents).

A charming plaza on Lido

The highlight of the trip, however has to be our day spent at Lido, the seven and a half mile strip of land that separates Venice proper from the Adriatic. It is a narrow, bar-bell shaped island, lined on one side with a fine sandy beach and a paved walkway on the other, and the interior is chock full of summer-at-the-sea shops and cafes that make everyone slow their pace and settle down.

The four of us spent the heat of the day at the “free” beach. Jim and I swam while our sons girl-watched. For all the beautiful young girls in teeny tiny (and sometimes topless) swimsuits, there were just as many older bathers, men and women who wore equally miniscule attire. I had to conclude, as I stopped counting the number of people exposing not-even-close to perfect physiques, that this is not a body conscious place. Bravo! In my modest one-piece I was one of just a few women with a covered midriff.

The typical size swimsuit if not the typical size swimmer.

By four o’clock we were ready to see the rest of the island, so we rented bicycles and pedaled along the Lungomare. Passing one exceptionally beautiful hotel, I was so absorbed by the mosaics on the facade, I steered myself into the curb and fell onto the sidewalk.

What a facade on the Astonia Palaca Hungaria hotel!

The pedestrian who came to my aid insisted that I should not try to sightsee while riding a bike. Good advice I did not take and we continued on our way.

My husband Jim, making sure I don’t fall a second time.

A concert on the main street Via Santa Maria Elisabetta was promised at 8:00 and we wanted to hear some live music. While we waited for the band to begin, we watched couples dancing to recorded tango music on the Via Lepanto, while young boys zoomed around them on their scooters.

We couldn’t dance Tango, and didn’t dance with the band because after completing one song a torrential storm came out of nowhere sending everyone for cover.

A downpour cleared the street of concert goers.

It was the second time we hovered under a cafe umbrella during our stay in Italy and it was just as much fun this time but the rain put the kabosh on the concert.

Sam and Joseph goofing around while waiting out the storm.

Wet, tired, happy, we boarded the vaporetto and called it a day knowing we accomplished something rare. We’d found the places in Venice where the locals go when they want to relax and had an authentic and memorable experience among them.



Categories: Europe, Go How Know How, Music, Food, Art and Culture, Travel by Land, Travel by Water

4 responses to “Doing the Lido Shuffle Out of Venice”

  1. Khaled says:

    Kudos to you for braving a city like venice during tourist season, and even more so for daring to step out of bounds and go to places that aren’t on the usual tourist itinerary. Anna and I have learned this is the best way to travel. It’s almost as if all the truly unique experiences have retreated from the spotlight to hide away from the crowds.

    • Christine Negroni says:

      Hi Khaled,
      It is great to hear from you. While Lido is hardly off the beaten path, it seems the locals have made it their own and the out-of-towners like me do not overwhelm the charm of the place. Check it out.

  2. Aleksandra says:

    Great text/article! Italy is one of my favorite countries and travel destinations! Thank you for sharing this with us! 🙂

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