pellestrina_casoni

An island where time stands still, far off the usual tourist routes

If you are looking for what Venice was like half a century ago and you want to find a bit of peace and tranquillity, the island of Pellestrina is an ideal destination for immersing yourself in serenity.

Today, after two days of intense rain and dark clouds, it was beautiful and sunny out with a splendid blue sky. So, I climbed on bus number 11 heading to the island of Pellestrina, a place which remains a small corner of genuine paradise little or not at all disturbed by mass tourism. This is because it’s a bit out of the way and reachable only after a couple of hours’ travel.

After a pleasant crossing of the lagoon from San Marco, you get to the Lido. There you climb on bus number 11 that runs all the way to Alberoni a Sud where you enter the ferry boat. In a couple of minutes, the ferry crosses the mouth of the port, one of the entrances seaward from San Marco, finally arriving in  Maria del Mare.

After coming off the ferry-boat, the bus runs along the coast of Pellestrina until it gets to the opposite end. From there, a vaporetto or water taxi service regularly connects with Chioggia.

Although the island has been discovered in recent years by ecotourists, you can still get to the southern end by bike from Chiogga where the Ca’ Roman nature oasis is.

You pass small, successive clusters of houses, Portosecco, and San Pietro in Volta until coming to the village of Pellestrina, which gives its name to the entire island. In recent times, new construction has sprung up in this location whose principle source of income is fishing. You gather this by the almost endless succession of boats and vessels moored along the banks of the lagoon.

What strikes you after walking for awhile along the lagoon is the silence. It’s only intermittently interrupted by the screeching of seagulls or water lapping on the hull of sporadic and slowly departing boats.

There’s also the chatter of little groups of women with their traditional, peculiar, musically-cadenced way of speaking that is enjoyable to hear and different from the dialect spoken in the city. Or you can hear the rare tourist on a bike. These are the only noises that punctuate the air in this place where silence reigns sovereign. It seems almost unnatural for those coming from the chaos of car traffic in the city. Meanwhile, on the other side, along the beach, the noise of the waves washing up is broken only by the engines of the few cars passing along the long road winding around the island.

The long “Murazzi” or walls, built to defend the town in distant times, hide a beach which was reformed and protected by works done after the Great Flood of 1966. It’s a wild and natural place which is visited almost exclusively by residents during the summer. It has no bathing facilities, cabins, kiosks or beach clubs. There’s only a long line of tamarix shrubs concealing the view of the town.

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