A Day Trip from Venice
Chioggia, at the southern end of the Venetian Lagoon, is an island town with two faces: A sleepy, well-worn historic center that travel writer Jan Morris describes as "a place of horny and homely instincts," and the modern resort of Sottomarina, with its sailboats and beach hotels.
In The World of Venice, Morris writes:
Whether or not one shares Morris's rather sour (and, to our minds, unfair) view of Chioggia, there's no denying that Chioggia is the second most important city on the Venetian Lagoon and the busiest fishing port in the region.
Commercial fishing boats are moored along the waterfront, shellfish farms dot the neighboring waters of the lagoon, and the city's fish market is a popular tourist attraction.
Until recently, the downtown business district and back streets had an almost 1950s feel, with seafood restaurants and cafés that hadn't changed in decades and an atmosphere that suggested what the quieter neighborhoods of Venice might have felt like in the days before mass tourism. This has begun to change, with trendy restaurants and coffee shops moving in, but Chioggia remains quieter and less touristed than Venice's historic center.
Chioggia is easy to reach from Venice, and a day trip or--better yet--an overnight excursion is well worthwhile if you can spare the time.
Finally, Chioggia is the departure point for self-drive boat rentals from Locaboat Holidays, which offers "Penichette" cabin cruisers for one- to two-week itineraries in the Venetian Lagoon.
How to reach Chioggia from Venice:
By boat. The Venice public-transit company, ACTV, operates the No. 11 vaporetto or water bus from the Lido S.M.E. (the main Lido vaporetto stop) to Chioggia's historic center, with intermediate stops at Alberoni, S. Maria del Mare, and Pellestrina.
Boats run about once an hour, depending on season and day of the week, and travel time is approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.
By bus and ferry from the Lido. ACTV bus line 11 runs from the Lido to Chioggia along the narrow strip of land and seawall that separates the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea.
The bus goes onto a car ferry at one point, and the last leg of the journey is by passenger ferry. Travel time is 1 hour 15 minutes, and buses depart Lido S.M.E. frequently throughout the day and evening. For details, see our Venice to Chioggia article.
By bicycle and ferry from the Lido. You can rent a bicycle on the Lido and head south along the same route that the bus follows. You'll board a car ferry at Alberoni; at Pellestrina, you'll switch to an Actv passenger ferry that carries bicycles.
By bus from Piazzale Roma. ACTV bus 80E runs to Chioggia and Sottomarina via the mainland at roughly 30-minute intervals; travel time is 1 hour 20 minutes. See the official timetable in PDF format.
Another option is to take Arriva Veneto bus 80, which stops at Piazzale Roma on its way from Venice Marco Polo Airport to Chioggia and Sottamarina.
By car. From Venice's Piazzale Roma, the parking and car-ferry island of Tronchetto, or Venezia Mestre on the mainland, you can reach Chioggia via the E56 road that heads south from Venice's mainland industrial suburb of Marghera. (Consult a good road map for details.) The distance from Venice is about 44 km.
By car from the Lido. Although a road heads south toward Chioggia on the Lido, it doesn't go all the way. If you drive this road, you'll need to park in Pellestrina and take the vaporetto for the last leg of your journey.
From Venice Airport. In summer, Arriva Veneto bus 80 runs directly from Venice Marco Polo Airport to Chioggia and Sottomarina in 1 hour 40 minutes, with departures every hour or so on weekdays and at longer intervals on weekends.
The fare is quite reasonable, and you can buy your ticket inside the airport at the "Public Transport" desk. The departure point is at the far left of the bus-loading area outside the terminal. Look for a blue Arriva bus with a sign that reads "Sottamarina 80." (Thanks to reader Alison Gillanders for the tip.)
In the off-season, take a Venice Airport bus to the Piazzale Roma in Venice. There, you can catch ACTV bus 80E (see PDF timetable) to Chioggia and Sottomarina.
Hotels in Chioggia and Sottomarina:
The classic Hotel Grande Italia (4 stars) has an unbeatable location on the waterfront, next to the main street of the historic center and directly across from the Actv vaporetto platform. Dogs are allowed, a garage is available, and the newly renovated hotel is accessible to disabled guests.
Other reliable to excellent hotels in the center include the Clodia (3 stars), the Grand Italia (3 stars), the Casa di Carlo Goldoni (B&B), Chioggia Bridges (B&B), and the one-star Hotel Caldin's.
Across a car and pedestrian bridge from the historic center, in the beach and boating resort of Sottomarina, our booking partner offers a number of hotels at lowest available rates: the Best Western Hotel Bristol (4 stars), Residence Eleanora (4 stars), Baviera (3 stars), Belevere (3 stars), Metropol (3 stars), Miramare (3 stars), Pineta (3 stars), and Ragno d'Oro (3 stars). Most of these hotels have pools, private beach clubs, or both.
For a more unusual stay, you can book a cabin with private bath on Rendez Vous Fantasia, a charter boat that moors in Chioggia's harbor (a few meters from the historic center) when it isn't cruising in the Venetian Lagoon.
More tourist information:
Reliable English-language tourist information about the city of Chioggia is hard to come by. For information about Sottomarina in a mixture of English and Italian, visit Sottomarina.net.
As you approach Chioggia by boat, you'll encounter shellfish farms and fishing cabins in the shallow waters of the Venetian Lagoon.
Boxes for growing crabs are arranged in long rows, with the catch being collected in small boats.
In Chioggia, the Coast Guard station faces the Venetian Lagoon, not the Adriatic Sea.
Chioggia and its citizenry have a long maritime tradition, and it's said that many of Venice's vaporetto pilots are from Chioggia.
Fishing boats are moored in the port of Chioggia and along the city's waterfront. If you're looking to get into the commercial fishing business, you might get lucky: During our visit, a boat was for sale.
As you head into town, you'll reach the Piazzetta Vigo with its "Winged Cat of St. Mark" column, shopping arcades, and cafés. (The lion atop the column symbolizes Chioggia's political and economic ties with Venice.)
The elegant Palazzo Comunale, or city hall, evokes memories of a time when Chiogga was the largest fishing port on the Adriatic.
As you leave the main street and its squares, you'll catch glimpses of everyday life in Chioggia.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was consecrated in 1110. After the original church burned down in 1623, the current building was constructed over a period of several decades.
Why waste money on a clothes dryer when a motorscooter is more fun?
On laundry day in Chioggia, your wet clothes will never be lonely.
While your clothes are drying, you can run rings around the older generation.
The Istituto Cavanis (a.ka. the Congregation of the Schools of Charity) is a religious and charitable foundation named after two brothers, Marco and Antonio Cavanis, who founded the first free school in Chioggia more than 200 years ago.
For more pictures of Chioggia, see the Chioggia section of our La Bella Vita barge-cruise review at Europeforcruisers.com.
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