There are 117 islands in the Venice Lagoon. Only about 32 are inhabited and we’d only been to five. So when Tim asked what I wanted to do this weekend, I thought we’d stay a little closer to home and visit the island of Chioggia in the Venetian Lagoon.
Chioggia is often called Little Venice because of its picturesque canals and its slower pace of life. Corso del Popolo is the main street and runs from one end of the island to the other. The Corso is the heart of the historic center, with shops, cafes and restaurants lining the street. Piazzetta Vigo is at the very end of Corso del Popolo; its a lovely open square with gelato shops, souvenir shops, the Grande Hotel Italia, and a vaporetto to Piazza San Marco in Venice.
From Piazzetta Vigo, walk over the white marble bridge and cross the Vena Canal to Chiesa di San Domenico. The church is on its very own island and contains one of Chioggia’s greatest treasures: Vittore Carpaccio’s St. Paul, his last recorded painting. There are also works by Tintoretto and Bassano, and a venerated wooden crucifix (“the oldest in the world” the sacristan informed me with pride). Through a grille in the church you can see a collection of local ex-voto images.
Continuing on, we came upon the Fish Market, which is open daily until noon. Since Chioggia is a fishing village, it’s no wonder that the fish market has an extensive variety. Many restaurants serve fantastic fresh seafood meals for less than you’d pay in Venice. We chose to eat at Al Porto on Riva Canal Lombardo. I had the spaghetti with clams and we shared calamari fritti and fried mixed fish. I also recommend the house white wine!
The Duomo, or cathedral, is at the opposite end of Corso del Popolo from Piazzetta Vigo. It became a cathedral in 1110 but was rebuilt in 1623. The cathedral has a marble pulpit with gold canopy and a decorated 17th century altar. There’s a nice 19th century stained glass window. Outside the Duomo stands its tall fourteenth-century campanile, which is older than the present incarnation of the main church.
There is also a Clock Tower and Clock Tower Museum, which can be visited on Sundays and holidays.
There’s a summer vaporetto that runs between Chioggia and St. Mark’s Square in Venice from early June until late September. The rest of the year, it’s possible to make the trip by taking a vaporetto to Lido, then transferring to bus number 11, and finally catching the passenger ferry from Pellestrina to Chioggia.The journey takes around 2 hours.
Alternatively, there is also an ACTV bus from Venice to Chioggia and Sottomarina. This service, the 80E, leaves from Piazzale Roma every half-hour, and the drive to Chioggia takes around an hour.
If you are staying in Chioggia and wish to visit Venice, there is a direct boat service, the Linea Clodia, which leaves every morning at 9.05am and returns in the evening, leaving Venice at 5pm. Check the latest times as these are subject to change.