Veneto Ventures #2: Observing the dolphins down to Chioggia

Veneto Ventures #2: Observing the dolphins down to Chioggia

Sunday 25th –  Tuesday 27th September 2022

Leaving Casier, we headed south, leaving the Parrocchia dei Santi Teonisto e Compagni Martiri towering behind us [see GoPro video below] and motored onwards towards Venice. 

Rain had been forecast but fortunately this seemed to have all fallen overnight and by the time we set off, both Captain and crew could enjoy the sunshine. 

At Portegrandi, where the River Sile meets the Laguna, we negotiated our first lock. The term ’we’ is used loosely. This lock, unlike those on the canals of England, was operated by a lock keeper and required comparatively little effort from the crew. The Co-Captain took most of the strain.

Once on the Laguna, we passed several casoni with the fishing nets hung out beside them. A casone is a basic fisherman’s hut or peasant’s house in the Veneto, but as we would see shortly not all casone are equal and some are more basic than others.

Our route took us past the picturesque island of Burano, which is famous for its brightly coloured houses. The bell tower is no longer vertical and from some angles the lean is quite alarming.

le boat has its own dedicated berths on Burano and it is high on our list of places to visit. We had planned that we could moor here, if there were spaces available, but realised that the boats which had left the marina earlier than we had the day before would probably already have occupied the company’s moorings. Having identified where these were for our return, we continued on to our second mooring option at Vignole, close to the vaporetto stop. The tide was low and Liz took multiple attempts at looping the mooring rope around the pole [unfortunately there is no video available] but eventually Robert [on his first try] secured the Caprice and we went for a stroll.

The information book provided onboard says that Vignole has ‘few inhabitants and is almost entirely dedicated to farming’. Research [after we arrived] informed us that the recommended trattoria is now permanently closed. Other than a handy cut through for small boats there did not seem to be much there and we chose to adopt Plan C and retrace our route slightly to return to a mooring we had sighted back on Sant’Erasmo.

Mooring place #2: Sant’Erasmo

Here we found the Al Bacan – a beautifully situated beachside bar – where Robert discovered that the young barmaid was half Brummie and had just been on a camp in Birmingham for the summer. She was multi-talented and as well as speaking excellent English she was painting a mural in the restaurant. 

We returned to the boat for Martin to cook and our mooring spot provided an ideal view of the sun going down beyond the dolphin [pictured below]. Everywhere on the Laguna, you must observe the dolphins or briccole. These are groups of pilings which are used to stabilise or protect docks and moorings; mark low tide or to function as navigational aids.

Briccola at sunset

Robert is struggling with charging his new GoPro and so we have not as yet managed to capture a whole day’s journey. Below shows the first part of our trip down the River Sile.

On Monday, Matilda woke early and the reflection of the dolphin was almost a perfect mirror image.

She was awake early enough to watch the bin men at work. 

But her peace and quiet was short-lived: a loud horn sounded as a rather peremptory signal that we should vacate our mooring. Moving a short distance round the island of Sant’Erasmo in the early morning we passed two gondoliers who made rowing standing up look totally effortless.

Having sorted ourselves out, we set off again and found that, in this part of the Veneto the casoni [fishermen’s huts] were indeed very basic.

Robert demonstrated that the Caprice, unlike a narrowboat, will hold her course [see video of the day below].

We approached Chioggia, still observing and navigating by the dolphins.

Reversing into our berth proved to be a complicated manoeuvre requiring quite some skill: unfortunately once again no video is available but this time we will simply document that Robert was not successful on the first attempt. Eventually the Captain directed the Caprice safely into our mooring for the next two nights. . .

Mooring place #3: Canale Lombardo, Chioggia

. . . and the Co-Captain secured our craft. The crew were impressed. At this point we were the only le boat craft using the company moorings, although during our stay they filled up and some had to find alternative berths. The Laguna is tidal and so there was approximately a one meter variation in the water level which makes disembarkation more difficult at low tide. The Caprice has a gang plank which has been thoughtfully fitted with a rope to secure it to the boat. We had moored next to a pole with metal rungs in the dockside so we were able to use this to facilitate getting onboard. We noticed that the other boats’ gang planks often fell into the water.

Having moored up, we strolled to the Piazzetta Vigo where we had a welcome cup of coffee with a view over the bridge.

From the piazzetta, the Corso del Popolo runs straight up, past St Andrew’s Church and the Torre di Sant’Andrea [the Campanile of St Andrew the Apostle] which claims to be one of the oldest clock towers in the world still in operation.

Further on lies the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta close to . . .

. . . the Porta Garibaldi which was once the monumental entrance to the city.

Chioggia is sometimes referred to as ‘little Venice’ and this attractive fishing village also has a network of canals and bridges.

The GoPro captured the start of our journey to Chioggia.

The afternoon promenade is flourishing here and during the later afternoon and early evening the local residents take a companionable stroll down the main thoroughfare. Whilst taking some liquid refreshment on the Corso del Popolo [see Dish of the Day] we were amused to see a gentleman in a long coat with three dogs riding nonchalantly on his hoverboard.

The following morning we walked to the famous fish market where some of the visitors were partaking of a sneaky breakfast.

The churches along the Corso del Popolo encompass a wide range of styles, decorative elements and sizes. In contrast to the grand basilica, [see above] Matilda also popped into the airy and graceful Church of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary [below right] and the tiny, gothic Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli Pietro e Paolo [below left].

The nearby beach is named Sottomarina [see Selfie of the day] and although Matilda was not keen to go swimming, she felt she needed to dip her toes in the Adriatic. It was evidently the end of the season here and men were at work dismantling the bars and cafés which must be bustling during the summer months.

Video of the day:

Selfie of the day:

Dish of the day:

Route map:

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