Visiting Venice while on a bike tour? - CycleBlaze

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Visiting Venice while on a bike tour?

Jacquie Gaudet

Plans for our trip to Italy next spring are coming together and will soon move on from the conceptual stage.  We plan to fly to Genoa and then, I hope, home from Venice (the closest major airport from where our conceptual route would finish).  If we are flying home from Marco Polo Airport, I want to visit Venice!  I've never been there.

As I understand it, we don't want to even try to take our bikes into the city.  So I'm looking for comments on the following ideas (or potentially better ideas!):

  • Book a hotel near the airport (on site or in Tessara?), ship our cases there from Genoa.  Finish our ride at said hotel, pack our bikes, and leave them there while we spend a night or two in Venice (budget permitting).  Return to airport hotel for one last night depending on departure flight time.
  • Book a hotel near the airport, ship our cases there from Genoa.  Ride to Mestre(?), stay one night and leave our bikes, go to Venice for a night or two, collect our bikes and ride to airport hotel.  Pack bikes, stay a night, fly home.

We aren't set on riding into the area and could take a train if riding isn't advisable or if we are behind schedule.

Your thoughts?

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo Jacquie Gaudet

Jacquie this brings back memories. In mid summer of 1979 I hurtled on my loaded bike from Innsbruck to Venice to meet with friends. Somehow I made it right (with lots of carrying the bike up and down steps) into the heart of Venice - San Marco's Square. I found my friends and we ended up rough camping in the People's Park for several nights.  We were on a tight budget in '79. It poured rain, we looked like total vagabonds but had a wonderful time in totally people congested, sodden Venice. 

The bottom-line is that my recollection is that a bicycle is next to useless in the heritage part of Venice, so yes I'd recommend doing something like you have suggested. 

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1 month ago
John SaxbyTo Jacquie Gaudet

Hi Jacquie,

I don't have any suggestions on biking to/in/near Venice, but we spent a wonderful week there--jeez! can it be more than ten years ago?--in 2007.  The only wheeled vehicles I saw in our time there were trains in the station, and two-handled dolly carts elsewhere.

But, if you can afford a few days, do so.  We found a small hotel in Cannaregio, first stop on the vaporetti route (public transit in Venice is by boat, alas no longer steam-driven, despite the name)  out of the train station.  Cannaregio at that time was not very touristy--tho' the number of Venetians actually living in their city was declining. 

We visited some of the nearby islands notably Murano, and made a day trip by train to Verona.  Fabulous, in every sense of the word.

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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie Gaudet

Rachael and I have done this, twice: once in 1994, at the midpoint of a tour; and again in 1998, when we ended a tour there.  It’s getting to be old news obviously, but I doubt that anything fundamental has changed in the last two decades.  The canals are still there, and even if you were allowed to take your bikes into the city there’s no way that you’d want them there.  You can’t get more than a few blocks before coming to a canal and a stair stepped bridge you’d have to schlep them over.

Both times, we just biked across the causeway from Mestre, which is safe enough, and left the bikes at the end somewhere.  I think the first time we just locked them up to a railing and hoped there’d still be there when we returned, because we hadn’t realized we couldn’t take them in and had no choice - we were meeting friends there.  The second time we left them at luggage storage at the train terminal, if I remember correctly.  We unfortunately didn’t keep a journal, and 20 years is getting to be a long time ago now.  At the end, we just biked from there to the airport.  I’m confident though that if you do the research you could find storage facilities there.

Your plan makes sense to me.  I’d plan on staying at least two nights though, if you can at all afford it.  And make sure you plan for walking around through the city after dark.  It’s a pretty surreal experience.

If you’re still brainstorming, you might consider another approach that we’ve been considering trying ourselves some year.  End you tour in Trieste instead of Maestre, and just visit Venice as a pass through.  And don’t reach it from Maestre, which is pretty uninspiring anyway.  Instead bike around the back side through the lagoons,  ferry hopping from Chioggia to Lido and on north out the other end.  Stash the bikes at your hotel on one of the islands, and take a ferry in to the city.  If I were doing this, I’d swing south far enough to see the famous mosaics at Ravenna, something that’s been on my wish list for decades.

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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott Anderson

So the whole concept is now up in the air (again)!  Neither of us really wanted to spend any time in Genoa so now we are back to arriving in Florence.  Florence is much more appealing as a place to spend a couple of days staying put in case our luggage is delayed and recovering from the time change.

And leaving from Trieste is appealing too.  In fact, we are thinking of following some of your Autumn by the Sea route in reverse.  I've just started rereading that section of your journal on this rainy day in Vancouver.

The general plan now is to explore Tuscany a bit, visit Elba, then ride up the coast to Cinque Terre.  From there, the most interesting route seems to be continuing on coast to Savona and then arcing north and east.  We'd leave our bikes somewhere along the route and take the train to and from Venice for a couple of days...

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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie Gaudet

Elba!  That’s never been a spot I’ve considered.  I’ll have to consult the maps, because we think we’ll be i. The vicinity next fall.  

We were surprised by how much we enjoyed Genoa, FYI.  If we were doing something like you suggest, we might continue on to Genoa again and catch the train to The Turin.

And if you go to Turin, don’t miss the Egyptian Museum!

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4 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott Anderson

I remember your comments on Genoa.  Al was through there in 1986 and just remembers TRAFFIC!  For my part, I can't predict my reaction to a city.  I like Montréal, but Toronto make me look for escape.  Neither of us liked Bordeaux.

Al's not keen on trains because of all his bikepacking bags.  Panniers are so much easier, I think, but his bike develops a nasty speed wobble if he has too much weight on the back.  He says this was a problem on our trip to France, but didn't mention it then.  He's now got smaller panniers which means he needs his fork-mount bags to distribute the weight and they are a pain to attach and detach.  I'll have 3 bags (2 panniers plus my handlebar bag) but he'll have 6.

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4 weeks ago