Some places get so crowded they become a cliché. Venice is one of them. But across the bay is Chioggia, the holy grail of north Italy’s Veneto region. A small fishing village representing the local, unspoiled, and day-to-day part of Italy – filled to the brink with canal facing houses and family-owned restaurants. A 1950s version of its bigger brother that, if any place, is to be called “Little Venice”.
Being an old town in the Venetian lagoon, Chioggia has many similarities with Venice. Built on a network of canals, its houses are surrounded by water and a myriad of narrow streets. But the parallel stops there, because Chioggia is a place to live. Cars are crossing the streets and gondolas slowly passes the bridges, not for tourism but as a natural way to move around the city. And although its rich history, the museum lines of Venice are replaced by a Friday morning wedding at the Basilica of Saint James.
Follow the Canal Vena, splitting the peninsula in two, and walk along the canal facing houses. Fresh baked bread, yawning people in their windows, and pop-up markets selling fruits. At Corso del Popolo, a restaurant owner prepares the fish of the day. A group of kids are playing in the street. Across the bay is Venice and a never ending silhouette of cruise ships, merchandise vendors, and crowds of tourists. So close, but still so far away.
How do I get there?
Where: Chioggia is situated on the tip of a small peninsula, 50 km north of Venice and 100 km southeast of Bologna.
How: Fly to Venice, Bologna or Milan. Get there by boat from Lido or by car from Bologna or Milan. Stay in the old town close to Canal Vena.
When: Late spring or early fall. In contrast to Venice, Chioggia does not get overly crowded during the summer, making a visit in June-August suitable.
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