Not really in Venice. Not really a canal. But a really great day of relaxation and effortless sightseeing!
I found the website for Il Burchiello while searching for how we’d spend five days in Venice with another couple, longtime friends of ours. It looked so relaxing, motoring along in an air-conditioned modern boat, stopping along the way for three villa tours and a lunch, then back from Padua at the end of the day on the train or bus. Il Burchiello lived up to its claims, and the tour guide and boat staff were accommodating and informative. In four languages!
The boat has a capacity for 110 passengers, but we had only about a dozen on board the day of our tour. This added to our comfort with a sense of “private” touring, and we were able to get acquainted with some of our fellow travelers. In addition to the air conditioned cabin with a mini-bar selling espresso, various drinks, and snacks, the upper open-air deck provided ideal viewing of the dozens of villas along the canal, most built in the 1500s to 1800s.
We boarded the boat along the waterfront not far from Piazza San Marco, and soon were motoring across the lagoon. The Brenta “Canal” is actually a natural river. We entered the river in an industrial area, but soon came to the first of five locks and several swinging bridges. These were interesting, but the main attraction for me was seeing so many villas, and being able to tour three of them. My love affair with castles and palaces began in childhood, and these villas, the summer homes of the wealthy Venetians, played to my heart.
Lunch along the way was not included in the cost of the tour, and the four of us opted for the “light” lunch, sandwiches, drinks, and a snack. A bit overpriced, but the restaurant was comfortable and clean. They offered a full seafood lunch, and the one passenger who ordered that seemed happy with it.
After touring the third villa, in the late afternoon, we were still 90 minutes from Padua. Our guide offered us the option of returning by Venice by bus from there, rather than going on to Padua and having a longer trip back. Several of us found our way to the bus, and rode back to Venice a little earlier than we had planned. We were very refreshed, and ready to hit the more active sightseeing circuit the following day–our last full day in Venice.
I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story, and I encourage anyone who needs a day out of the crowds in the city to book a river cruise on Il Burchiello.