Friday, July 24, 2009

Riding the Brenta Canal Route

In 2007 we took the burchiello down the Brenta from Stra to Venice with students from the University of Illinois. You start by bus from Padova and you get a guided tour with four villas including Villa Pisani at Stra and lunch. We saw a lot of bridges, locks with mechanisms designed by Leonardo da Vinci and villas designed by Palladio and decorated in one case by Tiepolo. This trip was a bit different.

We started by vaporetto to Fusina from Venice, a nice ride of about 20 minutes from Giudecca. Then we got our bikes. Because Girolibero, the company that runs the bike tours, keeps bikes just for this route, we had different bikes and even the men had to ride what they called " girly bikes." Big deal. Anyway, we took off on a busy road but soon we were riding along the canal, which was beautiful. Until we got around Mira the traffic wasn't too bad. Then we had more traffic and there aren't nice bike paths or road markings. The roads are narrow and Italian drivers don't usually slow down for bikes. Still, it was a nice ride to Stra and we saw a lot of biking groups like ours as well as small groups of bicycle tourists.

The Villa Pisani is a seventeenth century villa and Napoleon stayed there so people like to go and see the bathroom he had installed for his one night stay. Hitler and Mussolini met there in 1934. The gardens are very big and, since I had to pay to go in to them since there was nowhere else to eat my lunch, I went through the maze, which is one of the oldest in Europe.

Then, in the heat of the afternoon, we rode a slightly shorter route back to Fusina. In all it was 51.5 km. Peter had bad blisters in his feet from walking in the hot sand in the beach at Alberoni the day before so he did not go. We were hot and tired when we reached Fusina at 4 pm so we allhad cool drinks and ice cream before the boat came back to get us. Then we returned to Guidecca and the Vita-Pugna where skewers of fresh fruit and iced ice were waiting.

Our final dinner was spaghetti carbonara and meatballs with whipped potatoes and salad. We have had very good meals and the crew has been able to make substitutions for my wheat allergy. Now we are going to have breakfast and then take our luggage to the train station so we don't have to carry it around Venice all day.

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