Ladies Living Venice, in Oxford and on the Thames

Un Po di Donne on the ThamesA group of women vogatrici from the Remiera Giudecca rowing club organize a rowing vacation each year in August. Their name, Un Po di Donne (a few women), is a double entendre for the destination of their first sojourn in the park of the Po delta. Subsequent trips include second trip down the Po from Mantova and Cremona, and to Acquileia in Friuli and back.  This year was their first trip abroad: starting and ending in Oxford, up and down the River Thames.

The City Barge Venetian rowing club in Oxford boasts a small fleet of Venetian rowing craft. Several members are frequent visitors to Venice (a number of them rowed the Vogalonga this year), and once they heard of Un Po di Donne’s idea to row the Thames, they graciously arranged to provide the women with three, four-person sandal for their week-long trip. As a result of their being short a rower or two, I got to tag, or rather row, along.

A few of us went up a few days early, giving private lessons as an excuse for eating the bounty of rich, creamy things one of the members served up at her home afterward (she kept the happiest chickens I have ever seen; four of them provided her with about 3 eggs a day). The next day we went to Port Meadow (open range cows, horses, sheep, etc.) and stopped at the Perch pub (it didn’t take us long to understand that pubs are the whole reason you ever get in a boat).

NarrowboatFor maximum flexibility during the journey, we rented a 70-foot long narrowboat, a type of boat initially developed for traversing the canal waterways,  but now found chugging along many rivers as well. They are quite comfortable, resembling a very long, floating camper. The plan was to row first upstream as close to Lechlade and the source as we could get, then back downstream to Abingdon and Dorcester, before returning again to Oxford. We made it as far upstream as Radcot, and indeed down to Dorcester and back.

It was a wonderful adventure, indimenticabile. Our captain and chef Cristina had hauled down the essentials via air: an 8-cup stove-top caffetiera, a liter and a half of olive oil, and a massive pressure cooker for eat-in meals. A wi-fi hot spot kept us in touch as long as their was a data signal; we indulged in a pint and welsh rarebit when the sun was shining at mealtimes. We rowed past pubs and sometimes partook, saluted wildlife & livestock, in weather consisting of endless cycles of showers, wind and sun; chatted with locks and charming lock minders, photographed a pristine countryside, discovered Pim’s and sampled ciders, soaked up extraordinary hospitality.

Buongiorno, VeneziaUnica (addio, VeniceConnected)

VeneziaUnica is the new portal the offers advance purchase for all passes and services you’ll use while you’re visiting the city. The online portal was activated October 7, 2013, replacing and eventually expanding on other online venues like VeniceConnected, Venicecard, with more likely to shift there in the future.

FOR TRAVELERS

VeneziaUnica Composer

Just passing through? Use the composer to select, then purchase passes and services for each individual in your travel party, including

• ACTV passes
• museum & church passes (VeniceCard, San Marco Museums, etc.)
• land and water transfers (Aerobus/Alilaguna)
• toilets, wi-fi

with more to be added over time.

Where you retrieve your pass/tickets depends on the service you purchase, it has not changed. What seems to have changed is that services are no longer date specific, which is probably a good thing.

What is misleading from the English description is that they talk about it being a city pass. There is no single card for all services for the traveler; there is a single portal with a “composer” that you can use to purchase a number of services in advance, that you retrieve individually according the services; instructions will be included as they always have.

VeneziaUnica city pass will also replace imob/CartaVenezia (though your imob will act like a VeneziaUnica city pass until it expires): the card is free, the paid services for residents and frequent visitors that may be activated via the city pass are public transport, bike sharing, car sharing (Italian driver’s license required), car parks, wi-fi, etc.

FOR RESIDENTS and FREQUENT VISITORS

Residents and frequent visitors will be issued free VeneziaUnica cards, then use them to activate paid services such as ACTV services, car park, car sharing,

Your current imob card will act like a VeneziaUnica card until it expires, when it will be replaced with a VeneziaUnica card.

 

Last minute holiday giveaway, til midnight tomorrow!

There’s still time. Hurry and leave Susan Van Allen a comment about who inspired your love for Italy for a chance to win a heap of wonderful Italy-inspired books (including Italy: Instructions for Use, & Gemelli Press‘s newest release, True Vines)!
To enter the giveaway, just click the link below, and leave your comment until midnight tonight, Sat, December 8, 2012:

Susan Van Allen’s
Golden Day Holiday Giveaway

NOTE: Don’t leave your comment on this post, make sure to skip over to Susan Van Allen’s blog.

Sirens announce “code red” high tide.

140 cm is a very high acqua alta tide warning…and the four ascending tones (the maximum number) tell you so:

They sounded at about 8:15 p.m. this evening, between three and and half hours prior to when the tide’s expected to peak. It’s a dramatic tide, and a bit early in the season; the rain and wind have stepped right in to make sure that promise is fulfilled. Though there’s little abnormal about the weather anymore; last year there were so few high tides we were beginning to think they’d subsided for good. Of course there was no snow for skiing either, which it didn’t sit well with winter wonderlanders at all.

That, and the next high tide will still be nothing to sniff at, 130cm that will peak at 10:5o, still accompanied by rain and diminishing winds. This is what we’re expecting tonight; the ISTAT site will bring it to you in real time.

While not at all pleasant, and in many cases labor intensive (two friends have been working in ground level stores and apartments and storerooms to get merchandise and furnishings up and away from the water’s intrusion), it pales in comparison with the devastation and havoc Sandy wreaked along the U.S. eastern seaboard. As water begins to seep under the downstairs entryway door from the calle even now, I consider myself quite lucky.

 

Hop-on, Hop-off Vaporetto dell’Arte eliminated.

Vaporetto dell'Arte Venice City Tour water bus

The vaporetto dell’Arte service has been eliminated as of fall 2013.

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The Vaporetto dell’Arte debuts June 1, and with any luck will allow curious ticket holders to travel more comfortably,  and more informed.

A local will only lament the arrival of yet another vaporetto water bus traversing the Grand Canal, and after the failed attempt at the resident-only line two years ago, you can understand their skepticism. But this new hop-on, hop-off city tour might just help distribute the tourist vap traffic a bit more appropriately, freeing  sightseers from the more cumbersome arrival and departure traffic—we can only hope.

The Vaporetto dell’Arte resembles hop-on, hop-off buses in other cities like London or Rome, with some notable differences. Each of the 80 seats on this colorful vaporetto is equipped with its own monitor; you can select your language and use the earphones to listen to the presentation between stops. There is more ample outside seating compared to a normal vaporetto, and with your purchase, along with the earphones, there’s a kit with a map, a booklet with instructions and route, and offers from associated organizations (Venice city museums, Biennale, Fenice , Guggenheim, Cini and Prada Foundations, and more) for Vaporetto dell’Arte ticket holders.

The Vaporetto dell’Arte stops have be selected to make them convenient for sightseeing and for criss-crossing the city more efficiently; though that will likely depend on exactly what it is you intend to visit (the Ghetto, Ca’ Rezzonico, Bevilacqua, Querini Stampalia and Palazzo Grimani don’t seem terribly convenient to any of the included stops, which are San Stae, Ca’ d’Oro, San Samuele, Accademia, Salute, San Giorgio, and San Marco, of course; Arsenale and Giardini when the Biennale’s on). Forza, corraggio.

Some particulars:

  • the pass is good for 24 hours, so you’re covered for two full days of sightseeing.
  • the cost is €24, or €15 for seniors or kids 12 and under; you can also combine this pass with any regular  pass for €10.

• purchase the Vaporetto dell’Arte and other travel passes from veniceconnected.com,

Note, too, that

  • the starting point is the Ferrovia train station, not Piazzale Roma; the line ends at San Giorgio Maggiore (or Arsenale or Giardini).
  • the vaporetto departs every 30 minutes from any stop; when you arrive, check the next departure times.

For complete information, see the official web site, vaporettoarte.com

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By the  way, the VAP MAP has been updated to reflect the new line, and the new Alilaguna and ACTV stops.