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Visiting Venice on a Cycling Holiday
Even if you can’t cycle in Venice itself, the nearby Po Valley is great cycling country. A trip to this region of Veneto and Emilia-Romagna can take in cities such as Verona, Padova, Ferrara, Bologna, Modena and Ravenna. Marco Polo Airport, just north of Venice, forms the starting point for such a trip, but it would be a shame not to visit Venice when you’re nearby, especially if you’ve never been. A few days in these beautiful cities would be the perfect way to relax at the end of a cycling holiday.
A system that involves both Venice and bicycles presents some challenges – this is probably the least bicycle-friendly city in the world. Piazzale Roma, the busy area where the road from Mestre to the mainland ends, is the only part of the island where cycling (or driving) is possible. Even if it’s allowed elsewhere – and it’s not – it’s not even possible to push a bike through the narrow streets that are filled with tourists almost every hour of the day. And space is at a premium in this city, so hotels don’t have bike storage, even if you take your bike wherever you’re staying by putting it in a bag and taking it as luggage. Water buses (vaporetti) are a smart way to get around, apart from walking, but they are often overcrowded and have limited luggage space. Remembering that a touring bike with panniers can be carried by the rider while assembled with its panniers, and this is not an option in a crowded city that bans bicycles, you have a problem. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up a trip to Venice as part of your cycling holiday. Here are some of the options.
- There is a safe parking area near the Mestre railway station, called BiciPark. To find it, exit the main entrance of the station, turn right and walk about 80m. The park has 600 sites. Most are hired by monthly hikers, but bikers who go looking for a spot for a few days have a better chance of finding one outside of the summer season. At a cost of €0.50 per day, your bike will be taken care of in a building that is open and manned from 6am to 11pm all week except Sunday. You need to get your lock and buy a ticket, which you show when you return to collect your bike. Trains run from Mestre to Santa Lucia station in Venice, or you can take the train. 2 bus from the front of the station to Piazzale Roma.
- Unless you’re planning to get to or from Venice on a Sunday, or the Mestre BiciPark is packed when you arrive, you won’t have to think about other options. I was flying out on Sunday at the end of a recent trip so I went to speak to Tourist Information in Venice on Saturday afternoon to see what they told me to do with the bike I left in Mestre. I had already taken the bike map of Venice from BiciPark and noticed that there is another cycle park nearby, in the Parco di San Giuliano near the Marghera Fort. The tour operator explained that this is not a secure, public bike park and advised me to lock the bike securely if I was going to leave it there as he had heard of many thefts. Since he didn’t think much of my other answers (see below) I decided to go with this one and catch the no.2 bus back to Mestre. While I was on the bus, I saw several bicycles parked in a shed next to a building opposite the Mestre train station. After collecting my bike from the BiciPark, I went back to check where I could see from the bus. It was well protected from the weather, being under the roof of the house. Several bikes there were secured with heavy duty locks. After some thought I decided to leave my bike there, well secured with two locks. I also removed the saddle, because it’s very comfortable and because a bike without a saddle doesn’t tempt a thief. To find this bike park, go to the tunnel that carries the north-south loop under the railroad tracks. The mouth of the canal is on Via Dante and the motorbikes are next to it on the west side of the road, next to the building on the corner of Via Dante and Viale Stazione. This building houses the Avis office with a big red sign on the Viale Stazione side and is easy to spot. Bicycle infrastructure can be viewed from Google Streetview.
- There is another BiciPark in Venice itself. This is a covered park near the parking lot of Piazzale Roma. It’s open 24 hours a day, and it’s free, but it only has 25 places and cannot be reserved. Another major disadvantage, compared to Mestre BiciPark, is that bikes can be left there for one day and can be removed if left longer. So it’s a good idea if you’re planning a trip to Venice, but not unless you want to risk your bike on the way back. Even so, it would be best to arrive early in the morning to have a better chance of getting a free seat. You may find that you have to go back to the road to Mestre’s biggest bike park.
- The last possibility, which I have not explored in detail, involves Trasbagagli. The agency transfers goods between the airport and Venice by road or water, mainly for tour groups. It has offices in Piazzale Roma and at the airport and offers a left-hand luggage service at any time, open every day from morning to 9pm. You may have to ask about the possibility of leaving the bike in its normal condition, but there is no reason why a bike packed in a bag or a box ready for the trip home should not be accepted as any other piece of equipment. of property. The price is currently €5 or €5.50 per day, depending on the port used, which is more expensive for trips of more than one or two days. You can cycle to the airport, pick up your bike and leave it for a few days, and return to Venice by Alilaguna waterbus or no.5 roadbus. You can also arrange with Trasbagagli to leave your loaded bike in Piazzale Roma and have them drive you to the airport for your flight.
Now that you have the information you need to spend a few days in Venice as part of a trip around Veneto or Emilia-Romagna, start planning your trip!
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