If you want to get off the beaten path and have a glimpse of authentic life of an ordinary maritime community in the Venetian Lagoon head to Chioggia. The town has canals, beautiful medieval churches and a couple of interesting museums; add to those the charming laid-back atmosphere reminiscent of old days, excellent seafood and you will understand why Chioggia makes a lovely day trip from Venice.
Although Chioggia is often described as a “little Venice”, it doesn’t have as many architectural gems or priceless artefacts like its neighbour. Stroll down the town’s main street, Corso del Popolo, which runs through the island from north to south, to see beautiful churches and small artisan shops.
Pop in to the Chiesa di San Giacomo Apostolo to see fascinating ex-votos displayed on the walls. The painted votive offerings are tokens of gratitude to the Madonna della Navicella for miracles: escape from a fire or drowning boat, recovery from a grave illness. Another church that is worth a visit is the Chiesa di San Domenico sitting on a small island. There are works by Tintoretto and Bassano and an ancient wooden crucifix that locals believe to be the oldest in the world. Near the church, you can admire the white marble bridge with carved lions that crosses the Vena Canal lined up with fishing boats.
|The Marble Bridge|
There is also an interesting small museum, Museo della Laguna Sud, in town where you can learn about the history of the southern part of the lagoon, see old boats and agricultural equipment.
Chioggia is renowned for its excellent seafood dishes. Make sure you visit the local bustling fish market to see locals stocking up on fresh fish on weekday mornings. At the market restaurants you can also sample excellent seafood, such traditional dishes as risotto a la ciosota (seafood risotto), cape sante al forno (scallops baked in cognac), bibarasse in cassopipa (clams cooked with onions).
Photos via Flickr by: Patrick Giese, Fabio Veronesi.