Cycling from Venice Lido to Pellestrina along the lagoon
The cycle route of the islands of Venice leads to the discovery of both the island of Lido of Venice and Pellestrina, which protect the Venetian Lagoon from the open sea. Exploring those island means traveling through time, by admiring first the luxury of the Belle Époque along the Lido avenues, and then the simple lifestyle of fishermen in Pellestrina. By cycling along the 12 km length of each of the two islands, you can calmly explore them in all their authenticity.
The first stage of the cycle path, starting from Venice, is the Lido Island, mainly known for the famous International Film Festival which leads here the stars of the jet-set to the lagoon every year between the end of August and the beginning of September. The island can be reached with the water bus (called “vaporetto”) from Venice, or with the Ferry Boat from Tronchetto (which loads buses, cars, and bikes) that departs almost every hour. It is possible either arriving with your own bicycles or renting them near the water bus arrival station in Gran Viale S. Maria Elisabetta, where there is a wide choice of vehicles available.
Once arrived in the island, the splendid Art Nouveau buildings amaze the eyes, testifying the great splendor of the early 1900s that made the Lido renowned as “Golden Island”. Main symbols of this era are the Grand Hotel Ausonia & Hungaria, whose façade is covered with majolica and polychrome bas-reliefs, the Hotel Excelsior, a Moorish palace loved by celebrities such as the writer Goethe, who saw the sea for the first time right at Lido Island, or the Grand Hotel Des Bains, where Thomas Mann, a regular there, set the story of “Death in Venice”.
A curiosity. The elegance of the island was a source of inspiration for the famous Parisian cabaret “Lido de Paris”, founded after the Second World War, whose furnishings and decorations are inspired by those of the Lido of Venice.
After crossing the living heart of the island, the area surrounding Gran Viale, the tour continues towards the beach where you can see the typical huts, colorful changing rooms with an external veranda, that the Venetians traditionally rent during the summer season.
Heading south, the beach gives way to the Murazzi, a public beach that runs alongside an Istrian stone dam built in 1700 by the Republic of Venice in order to defend the islands from the erosion of the sea. The tip is to walk along the stone dam, enjoying the wild nature on one side and the sea on the other, until reaching the village of Malamocco. One of the oldest lagoon settlements, here you can breathe a typically Venetian atmosphere. For a snack (called typically “cicchetto”) you can stop by the trattoria Ponte di Borgo, called “Mauretto” by locals, or under the pergola of trattoria da Scarso, loved by famous people such as Federico Fellini, Hugo Pratt, that mentioned it in Corto Maltese, and still today from his epigone Lele Vianello.
Continuing to the southern end of the coast beyond the historic Bagni Alberoni, in a stretch of wild beach protected by the WWF, there is a popular beach usually frequented by local people and characterized by a wild and hippie atmosphere. At its far end, there is the chiringuito Macondo, the last bar available before ferrying to Pellestrina. Once already arrived in Pellestrina, it is possible to stop for a rest at Agriturismo Le Valli in Santa Maria del Mare just near the arrival of ferry boat.
The first village that we meet cycling along the island is S. Pietro in Volta. Made up of colorful houses, gardens, and flowered balconies, it is characterized by an eighteenth-century church surrounded by fishermen’s houses and vegetable gardens overlooking the lagoon. On the way to Pellestrina there are many historical trattorias such as da Celeste restaurant or osteria la Rosa where you can taste good fresh fish while enjoying the calm view of the lagoon. The myriad of fishing boats parked along the banks testifies that fishing is still the basis of the island’s economy.
Leaving behind the village of Pellestrina and its women busy embroidering lace outside their doorstep, the cycling path goes on along the Istrian stone dam that creates a narrow stone lane between the sea and the lagoon. At the end of the island, you arrive at Ca’ Roman, a 40-hectare natural reserve which constitutes one of the most intact dune environments of the northern Adriatic, famous especially for its fauna richness. Thousands of birds, in fact, stop by this area in autumn and spring during their migration for reproduction reasons before departing for distant destinations.
If you have time, you can take from here a water bus or the typical bragozzo Ulysses and reach Chioggia. Returning back along Pellestrina and Lido, you will see many mussels’ farms and fishermen stilt houses. On a bright day, it is possible to admire even the shape of the Euganean Hills and the Dolomites, perhaps still covered with snow, soaring behind the bell tower of San Marco square.
The ferry boat route, which reaches Tronchetto sailing through the Giudecca Canal, allows you to enjoy a great view of Venice, beautified by the golden hour that makes it even more magical. You will return to the city excited for this journey, having discovered the most authentic Venice, that of the islands that protect it from the open sea, where the relationship between the man and the lagoon is still visceral, and where time seems to stand still.
Edited by Valentina Scarpa Bandelloni
Departing from Venice, Lido can be reached with water buses lines 5.1, 5.2, and 6 with stops in piazzale Roma or out of the train station, with line 17 from Tronchetto, or with line 1 from one of the several stops along Grand Canal (timetable available in Actv website).
For passengers who do not have the Venezia Unica card, the ticket price is € 7.5 per way per person and € 1 per bike. It is recommended to buy a daily ticket (€ 20 per person).