The tour hotel was on Lido, an island that was mostly developed during the 20th century as a resort destination. The downtown near the ferry port looked like Italy, but the area where we were staying, with modernist construction and wide roads, felt much more like something in Florida.
But, it’s not possible to ride bikes in Venice proper, and Lido is nicer than Mestre, Venice’s mainland counterpart. It’s also a quick ride on the vaporetto (water bus) to Piazza San Marco, so it was easy to pop into town.
We’d taken the fast train up from Naples the day before the trip. We were already more than a week into our voyage and needed to do laundry before we got on the bike, so we stopped by the lavanderia and the bar conveniently located next door, where we had a very nice plate of prosciutto e melone (one of my favorite Italian bike touring foods).
Then we headed into Venice to wander the pathways. Venice is always a wonderful place to get lost, and we had no specific plans other than exploring. We found some nice back alleys.
Eventually we made our way back to Piazza San Marco. I had seen pictures of flooding there before, but I was not really prepared for the experience of it. Venice is sinking into the wetlands it was built on; combined with sea level rise, flooding events are becoming more and more common. When we’d arrived in the afternoon, we saw a few puddles, but by the time we returned to the square the tide had risen and about half of the square was under water.
It was magical and terrible. The historic buildings reflected in the water were beautiful, but the fancy restaurants with waiters walking over gangplanks to serve tables on islands in the square felt like a product cognitive dissonance. Are we in collective denial about how the world is changing?