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VENICE - GETTING AROUND

Walking

Venice is a compact city, which is designed for pedestrians. Aside from boats, the only way to explore Venice is by walking - and getting lost, repeatedly! Venice`s historic center is free of cars, and with the exception of the 400 plus foot bridges, the pavement is mostly smooth and level. To navigate the many twisting streets whose names change constantly or simply end in a blind alley or spill into a canal, you will need a detailed map. Ask for `apianta della città` at news kiosks, especially those at the train station and around San Marco. The best (and most expensive) is the highly detailed `Touring Club Italiano` map, available in a variety of forms (folding or spiral-bound) and scales.

As you wander, look for the (usually) yellow signs whose destinations and arrows direct you toward five major landmarks: Ferrovia (the train station), Piazzale Roma, Rialto (the main bridge), San Marco, and the Accademia (the only other Grand Canal bridge below the train station). And, when all else fails, just stop every couple of blocks and ask a local to point you in the right direction, but always know the name of the campo/square or major sight closest to the address you`re looking for, and ask about that. Treat getting lost in Venice as part of the fun, and allow more time than you think necessary to get wherever you`re going.

By Vaporetto (Water Bus)

The vaporetto can be a great way to get from place to place during your stay in Venice. However, a single fare ticket (good for 75 minutes) costs about €7.50 , so if you`ll be making more than one trip a day on the vaporetto it makes sense to buy a pass. Tickets can also be purchase for 24-hour ACTV travel card for about €20 (it only takes three rides to begin saving money with the card). For more savings, there are also ACTB travel cards for 48 hours for about €30 and 72 hours for about €40. Before buying a transit pass, think about how you want to use it and plan your sightseeing to make the most efficient use of the time you`re paying for.

The system of about a dozen lines is operated by the Azienda del Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano (ACTV; actv.avmspa.it). Most lines run every 10-15 minutes from 7am - midnight, and then hourly until morning. Most vaporetto docks have timetables posted. Transit maps are available at the tourist office and most ACTB ticket offices. It is easier to get around the center on foot, as the vaporetti principally serve the grand Canal, the outskirts, and the outer islands. The crisscross network of small canals is the province of delivery vessels, gondolas, and private boats.

Please Note: Before boarding a vaporetto or other water bus, be sure to validate your ticket at the grey and white machine (ignore the green one). Traveling without a valid ticket can result in a heavy fine.

Lastly, you`re allowed one bag with a combined length, width, and depth of 59 inches. According to ACTV, Venice`s transit agency, if you go over that limit, your suitcase can be charged a full adult fare.

By Water Taxi

Taxi acquei (water taxis) charge high prices and aren`t for travelers who are watching their euros. Trips in town will likely cost you around €40 to €70, depending on the distance, time of day, and whether you`ve booked in advance or just hired on the spot. Each trip includes allowance for up to four to five pieces of luggage, beyond that there`s a surcharge of €3 to €5 per piece. Also note that there is an €20 supplement for service from 10 pm to 7 am and also on Sundays and holidays (these last two charges can`t be applied simultaneously). These rates cover up to four people; if any more, it`s another €5 to €10 per extra person (max of 10 ppl). Taking a taxi from the train station to Piazza San Marco or any of the hotels in the area will cost about €80 for two people, while there is a fixed fee averaging €107 - €120 (for up to four ppl) to come from or go to the airport. Taxis to Burano or Torcello will be at least €120. Note that only taxi boats with a yellow strip are the official operators sanctioned by the city. You can book trips with Consorzio Moscafi Venezia online at www.motoscafivenezia.it. Six water-taxi stations serve key points in the city: the Ferrovia, Piazzale Roma, the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, the Lido, and Marco Polo Airport.

By Gondola

To come all the way to Venice and not indulge in a gondola ride could be one of your biggest regrets. It`s touristy and it`s expensive, but it IS the quintessential Venetian experience and it`s truly as romantic as it looks!

There are 12 gondola stations around Venice, including Piazzale Roma, the train station, the Rialto Bridge, and Piazza San Marco. There are also a number of smaller stations, with gondoliers standing alongside their sleek 36 foot long black wonders looking for passengers. They all speak enough English to communicate the necessary details.

Before setting off, establish with the gondolier the cost, time, and route explanation (any of the back canals are preferable to the much trafficked and often choppy Grand Canal). Though it`s printed at differing official rates, expect to pay about €80 for a 30 minute tour (about €100, 7pm-8am), with up to six passengers, and about €40 for every additional 20 minutes (about €50 at night). If the gondola price is too high, ask visitors at your hotel or others lingering about at the gondola stations if they`d like to share it. They`re regulated by the Ente Gondola (tel. 041-528-5075), so call if you have any questions or complaints.

Note: At these ridiculously inflated prices, there is no need to tip the gondolier. Aim for late afternoon before sundown, when the light does its magic on the canal reflections (and bring a bottle of prosecco and glasses). Oh, and don`t ask them to sing!

By Car

We don`t recommend keeping a car in Venice due to the cost and inconvenience. Piazzale Roma is the last stop for motorized traffic as cars are not allowed in the city. If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

If you must have a car while you are visiting Venice then the Tronchetto parking island next to the historic center and the Piazzale Roma are the main parking areas, but prices can be high during the busy season. A less expensive optionis parking in Mestre, on the mainland. The Garage Europa, San Giuliano andFusina, all have bus or water bus service to Venice.