Although the Lido is Venice’s beach, it is also much more. An island, a town with its own history and a nature reserve, it is also a jet-setters’ paradise, with luxury hotels and exclusive villas. In September, it becomes the world capital of cinema.
The Lido (meaning beach in Italian) is a separate island from Venice. Measuring less than 200 metres in depth in certain areas, it is a 12km stretch of sand, strategically positioned between the Lagoon and the open sea, only connected to the city and dry land by ‘vaporetti’ or ferry boats.
The clear difference between the Lido and Venice is that the Lido has real streets, which means you get around by car. In mid-November, Rolls Royce’s, Cadillac’s and Bentleys abound at the entrances of grand hotels. However, today, it is considered chicer to access the Lido by boat or explore it on foot or by bicycle.
WHAT TO SEE
The nature reserve and wild sand dunes of the Alberoni, recognized and protected by the WWF since 1997, are the perfect place for a quick swim. The area comprises 160 hectares of land, including two kilometers of golden sand dunes that extend from Murazzi to the Alberoni dam, and a beautiful pine forest. For a natural beach experience, the Lido also offers several free beaches, like the sandy dunes of San Nicole, the rocky outcrops of the Murazzi, or the beach known to the Venetians as ‘Bluemoon’.
Among other attractions, the area is home to an exclusive golf club set against a stunning backdrop of umbrella pines and poplars. Founder of the famous automotive house and an avid fan of Venice, Henry Ford commissioned the course in 1926, when he discovered to his disappointment that there was nowhere else where he could play golf, a sport widely practiced in America, but not in Italy at that time.
WHERE TO GO
Moving to the other end of the island, we find Malamocco, a small, ancient town that offers visitors a mini experience of Venice with its canals, ‘campielli’ and ancient buildings. Also dating back to olden times, in a more northerly direction, is the settlement of San Nicolo, featuring a Benedictine complex built in the 11th century.
WHAT TO DO
Don’t miss a walk, or even better, a bike ride along the Murazzi, the remains of ancient fortresses which are now used as a race track. Bicycles are provided by several of the island’s hotels. If you happen to be there at the right time, you will be treated to a breathtaking sunset. What’s more, you’ll also get a glimpse of a wilder, more untamed side of Venice, amidst the boats and fishermen searching for clams.
One of the island’s rituals, that you should not miss is having a ‘spritz’: the Venetian cocktail or aperitivo par excellence. You won’t have any trouble finding one at any bar on the Gran Viale, the Lido’s promenade. If you’re not pressed for time you can catch a boat from the Gran Viale to Pallestrina (where you can eat fabulously fresh fish, or a sandwich with fried sardines), or travel to Chioggia, a second, smaller Venice that abounds in fabulous small restaurants.