The weather in Venice, Italy has been warm and sunny. This island city also happens to be the world’s most beautiful urban environment. I must, of course, ignore such things since I am hard at work on your behalf, riding the transit system.

 

Like other cities, Venice has a pretty extensive network. Unlike most places, this lovely, lively open-air museum can only be navigated by foot and boat. Trains and buses travel from the mainland to the edge of the old city, but that’s it. After that you must walk — and since the streets are narrow, winding and often crowded you use the vaporetti — translated as ferryboats or busboats.

 

The average vaporetto (in the singular form) is actually a lot like a bus. It’s long, narrow and low enough to pass under Venice’s famous bridges. Riders can sit inside, where the colour scheme may be the same light green as the water outside, or they stand in open areas near the pilot cabin. Some boats even have exposed seats at the stern – arranged similarly to the rear of a Toronto streetcar.

 

Riding public transit in Venice, one risks being splashed by other boats – or getting mildly seasick – but I’d say the continuous view of ornate, centuries-old edifices is probably worth it.


The network, known as “Actv” does use modern technology. It’s even ahead of the TTC in this regard. Digital monitors at most stops (which are T-shaped docks) show departure times for each route. The system map has the same graphics as elsewhere in the world, except the lines travel the Grand Canal and to scattered isles including the populated barrier island called Lido.


Both locals and tourists use electronic fare cards, but the latter pay a premium. A single ride for visitors – valid 60 minutes – costs about $8.50. A day pass costs 18 Euros, or almost 24 bucks. Residents are charged a similar fare to other Italian cities, where one ride is around $1.50.


Some Venetians have their own boats and rich visitors can afford to cruise the canals by fancy gondola, but everyone else gets around by vaporetto. Docking can be a bit bumpy – but the ride is like none other. Go to actv.it to see the Venice transit map.


To visit Toronto’s own car-free enclaves, go to toronto.ca/parks/island/ and consult the ferry schedule.