Traverse as the Venetian Locals Do

December 2, 2013 / Local Interest
Venice, Veneto

Venice is a popular tourist destination in Italy, as it has many wonderful sights to see. There’s the fabulous Piazza San Marco, aka Saint Mark’s Square and known as the drawing room of Europe with its Campanile and newly restored clock tower. There are hundreds of churches, many campi, several must-see museums, and elegant palazzi along the grand canal, just to name a few.

It seems that most tourists are day-trippers, arriving early in the morning, running from one sight to the next in their exhausting 8-10 hour day, and disappearing from Venice when the sun goes down.

If you such a person, here’s my advice for getting around: Purchase a 12-hour vaporetto pass so you can get to different parts of Venice quickly (especially if you want to visit the colorful island of Burano or the glass making island of Murano). And, skip the expensive gondola ride and hop on board one of the gondole traghetto, those sleek, slightly larger black gondola’s manned by two gondolieri that cross the Grand Canal at various locations. Residents of Venice use this form of transportation on a daily basis.

There are seven “traghetti” stops that you can use as a short cut, thus saving you precious time. For €2 (€0.70 for residents) you can have yourself a quick gondola ride crossing the busy Grand Canal.


On a recent trip to Venice, I was near the Frari Church with a friend and we wanted to go to the top of the Campanile in Piazza San Marco. From our location, we had three choices: Walk in one direction to the Rialto Bridge, walk in the other direction to the Accademia bridge (both in a roundabout way and making for a longer walk to the Campanile), or take the traghetto from the San Toma stop.


We did as the locals do, and stood while crossing the canal. It definitely takes a lot to stay balanced on the gondola while taking pictures. If you are unsure, then go ahead and sit.


Once on the other side (at the Sant’Angelo stop), with a wave and “Ciao!” from one of the gondoliers, we were off to our destination.

Wow!! What a quick, easy, inexpensive, and fun Venetian experience. Don’t miss this opportunity when you’re moving about in Venice.


by Monica Pileggi

Contract Specialist, Photographer and Traveler. You can view the photographs that documents her travel impressions on

9 Responses to “Traverse as the Venetian Locals Do”

  1. Pru Bell-Davies

    Yes – we have used this wonderful way of taking Venetian short cuts…you get everything except the stripey shirts and plush velvet!

  2. Ginny Siggia

    I was in Venice in September 1999 for less than 24 hours. (My travel plans had changed to include a visit to Slovenia, and instead of returning home through Austria the departure was changed to Venice. Got that?) Only 24 hours is an affront to the magnificent city of Venice, but it was the best I could do, and a pleasant change of plans regardless. We arrived in mid-afternoon, and it took at least an hour on line to find a hotel room, which ended up being about a mile from the center. After settling in, we bought a transit ticket. I don’t remember if it included the vaporettii or if that was separate. No matter; our travel needs were amply covered at very reasonable cost. By 7 PM St Mark’s was closed and the piazza sparsely populated. We strolled around, poking into a few shops and enjoying dinner at a restaurant where on the special on the menu was translated as “drowned little octopus.” We went for selections more recognizable to timid American palates, but the name was charming. By then it was dark, and we embarked on a round trip through the canals on a vaporetto. It was eerie, ghostly, and unsettling in spots, but lovely in the open water and moonlight. All I could think was, “Those little canals would be a good setting for a murder mystery.” (I wanted to call them something cute like canaletti but it looks like the term is rio, plural rii. Even cuter.) It turned out that at about the same time, Jane Langton, the Boston-based writer, DID write a mystery set in Venice, “Thief of Venice,” but in the Ghetto Vecchio. A good read. Flash forward to 2009. My daughter and her boyfriend went on a two-week trip to Italy after she finished graduate school. In Venice, on a gondola, Mike proposed to Katie. They found her engagement ring in a small store on the piazza. The owner burst forth in a flood of Italian, “Next year you come back WITH a bambino!” (Since the wedding wasn’t for another year, they decided to wait.) Flash forward to June 2013. The bambino arrived and is a sturdy little lad. The question is not whether la famiglia will return, but when.

  3. Joy Huffines

    Tell us, please, how to discover what the “resident” rate is for the various modes of transportation?

  4. Your suggestions about Venice are very accurate. First off a one day stay is a
    very bad decision. There is so much to see! It deserves many hours just walking
    around all the neighborhoods. if you like museums, major art collections, palaces, churches, and vaporetto ‘s to various parts of the lagoon. Ristoranti’s
    and places to have Prosecco and “chichetti”. Using the vaporetto timed tickets
    is a time saver and also a foot saver if you trying to do the impossible!

  5. We were in Venice at a time that coincided with the Regatta Storica. Late Sept, I think. The place was ahop ! Wanting to get close enough to take photos we researched several boats that were an all-day affair, including drinks and food and watch all the races – iwas only interested in the historical parade. The day before, while boarding a traghetto, i noticed a sign at the pier that said they would be closed for the regatta. I asked the operator if we could pay to sit in a moored gondola to watch the race. He agreed. We returned the next day. The traghetto “station” was chain-link fenced off. I waved to the owner, who sheparded me and hubby to a gondola, pushed it out into the canal as far as possible and moored it. There we sat with the parade passing just meters in front of us. Molta contenta !

  6. Anstell Ricossa

    So sorry we did not know this on our last fabulous trip to Venice in Sept. ’13 ! !

  7. Lynn Michaels

    WHAT?!? You haven’t read Donna Leon? The best for Venice mystery with her wonderful Guido Brunetti and family! Start with her first and you will have over 20 opportunities to reside within the true heart of Venice – unsugared and authentic. And such fun to read! Great characters.

  8. Angela Finch

    What about Aurelio Zen, the inspector in the crime novels by Michael Dibden, many set in Venice.

  9. I agree that Venice deserves several days. My recent trip was five nights. My friend and I were out for the day (husband’s too in a different direction) and it was our last day before our cruise ship departed at 5pm. We were shopping and wanted to get to San Marco as quickly as possible so we could climb the campanile and get back to the ship before it set sail. The traghetto was the best mode of transportation from where we were.

    Joy Huffines, I don’t of the resident’s rates over all. When we arrived at the San Toma stop there was sign that posted the prices.


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