Venice’s beaches: the Lido

Yes, you even can go swimming in Venice. Not in the canals of the lagoon, where bathing is forbidden and punishable with a fine, with good reason, although until the 70s it was not unusual to see youngsters diving from some of the city’s bridges in the summer. The beaches used by the Venetians are those of the Venice Lido, a long island which can be reached in 10-15 minutes from the Hotel Londra Palace, by water bus, motor boat or water taxi.

The Lido stretches for about 12 km from the port of San Nicolò to that of Malamocco, the two inlets which connect the lagoon with the sea. Despite its narrowness, it has streets suitable for motor traffic and an airport. Its historical value also far outweighs its length; it provided defence and protection to Venice for centuries. It became a recognized seaside resort only in the second half of the nineteenth century. Legend has it that the first to take a fancy to the Lido was the English poet and politician Lord Byron, who used to rush along the island’s deserted beaches until he reached the church of San Nicolò and then dive into the basin and swim back to Venice.

The beaches of the Venice Lido feature a gently sloping seabed which means that they are safe for children as well, thanks also to the protection given by the two dams at San Nicolò and at Alberoni. There are both free and private beaches. The free beaches include the sand dunes of San Nicolò and Alberoni, the Murazzi rocks and Bluemoon Beach, which is convenient for the water bus stop of Piazzale Santa Maria Elisabetta. However, it is often crowded for precisely this reason. The main features of the private beaches are their beach huts: cabins with a veranda and an awning attached to the enclosed structure. There are many bathing establishments which rent out various types of equipment (huts, beach chairs, umbrellas, beds) for various periods: a day, a week, a month or the season.

The Alberoni beach is particularly special: it is an oasis protected by the WWF, one of the best-preserved examples of the original ecosystem of the northern Adriatic, a stopping place for migratory birds and a breeding place for turtles. It is a natural paradise which is difficult to reach but is nonetheless worth the effort.