Is it worth while to observe that
there are no Venetian blinds in Venice?
William Dean Howells
Hotel Ca’ Dei Conti
Modern Venice seems to be an elaborate program for gobbling up euros. Our hotel was on a small canal, close to the San Marco vaporetto stop, but walking to it required the sensible use of a good map, and so Railbookers strongly recommended that we pre-book a water taxi. This, we discovered, would cost well over a hundred euros for a twenty minute journey. As for a gondola, complete with tenor . . . We decided to take our chances with a vaparetto.
Even public transport proved to be almost three times its cost in Paris. Our time in Venice was spread out over five days and so one week cards seemed the best option. These, we read, could be purchased in advance online, but since there would be a ticket kiosk dockside at the railway station it seemed hardly worth the effort. What the guide books failed to mention was that they would only take cash, and so the hundred euros (!) for our two tickets ate up a huge chunk of our ready money, necessitating a later visit to an extortionate hole-in-the-wall. One of Mary's vaporetto tickets from 1965 [right] was rather cheaper. 1200 lire would be about 0.60€; today it's ten times that for a single journey.
Here’s something else the guide books don’t tell you. If we had chosen to ignore our consciences, we could have travelled for nothing. Passengers elbow their way onto the boats like bargain hunters at an IKEA sale. There's no pretence of checking tickets – during our week’s travel we saw not a single inspector. It wouldn’t surprise me if the entire ACTV system were kept solvent by the ignorance and/or honesty of those stampeding tourists. Or perhaps the natives who are caught cheating are drawn slowly between two vaporetti.
NOTE: A friend tells me that he saw inspectors regularly. Perhaps when we were there, they were on strike.
Our hotel proved to be ideally located – a five minute stroll from the Piazza San Marco but on a tiny canal with a narrow footpath and no peddlers, either of bicycles or of souvenirs. Our room was in a nearby annex facing a small square, with top floor windows overlooking a private courtyard; we could just see the top of the campanile and hear the pealing of its bells. (Fortunately we were not forced to reenact Genevieve—they stopped at midnight.)
Forgive the unsteady camera. I wasn't drunk—I hurriedly grabbed it to catch the six o'clock bells before they stopped.