Venice is a city of water. It has been this way since it was established. As soon as we arrived and stepped out of the station, we were faced with the Grand Canal that curves through the middle of Venice. The main form of transport is by boat- gondola, vaporetto or the numerous private motor boats that line the sides of the canal.
After the burning heat of its squares, the shade of alleyways is a relief. Here, there are numerous canals and bridges that wind along and confuse the unwitting pedestrian. The canals are green, glassy, the ripples casting dancing diamond of light on the bridges as gondolas slide through. It is quiet, the silence only broken by the friendly calls of gondoliers to one another or warning shouts round the corners. After the burning heat of the Venetian squares, the shade of the alleyways is a relief. It is so seemingly idyllic that I want to just slip down the few steps that lead into the canal and pass silently alongside the boats…
But after having read about how unsanitary the canals are, I decided against it. Apparently, 90% of the waste from Venice is flushed directly into the canals. Although there is a new filtration system which cleans waste before it is released, they are so expensive and difficult to maintain that few Venetian buildings bother to install them. Furthermore, the natural flushing system of the tides is not as effective as it once was. So my dream of floating along the canals as elegantly as a gondola was destroyed.
Determined not to give up hope of swimming in Venetian water, I decided to take the vaporetto to the lido and visit Alberoni beach. Usually, I am not a huge beach person. What I mean by this, is that I am not hugely interested in the peacocking, ‘beach ready’ aspect of beach holidays. And by ‘not hugely interested’ I mean that I think it’s needlessly competitive, sexist and encourages judgement and self-deprecation.
But Alberoni beach was not at all like the many English beach experiences I have had. There were so many people of all shapes and sizes and everybody seemed to be having completely their own fun. I swam in the sea and marvelled at the hottest sand I have ever walked across. I joined a woman doing yoga and watched the storm clouds gathering. It was an all round fabulous experience in Venetian water.