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Traghetto

Looking for a cheap (if quick) gondola ride? Take a traghetto across the Grand Canal.

Traghetto on Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

ABOVE: A traghetto, or gondola parada, arrives on the Dorsoduro side of the Grand Canal.

Until 1854, the Ponte di Rialto was the only bridge across the Grand Canal in Venice. Even now, there are only four bridges along the canal's 2.5-mile (3.5 km) length. If you need to cross the canal and you aren't near a bridge, you have two choices:

  • Take the No. 1 vaporetto, which zig-zags from one bank to the other as it follows the Grand Canal, or better yet:

  • Head for the nearest traghetto pier and get rowed to the other side. As a tourist, you'll be expected to pay €2,-- (nearly three times the residents' rate of 70 cents).

Traghetto (plural: traghetti) means "ferry" in Italian. On Venice's Grand Canal, traghetti are the passenger boats that cross the canal at seven points between the railroad station and St. Mark's Basin.

Traghetto on the Grand Canal, Venice

A traghetto, also called a gondola parada, carries up to 10 passengers (compared to five for a privately-hired gondola da nolo). The boats eschew bow decoration, brocaded chairs, and other luxury trimmings. They are rowed by two oarsmen: one who stands behind the passengers like a traditional gondolier, the other closer to the bow.

Traghetto street sign

Most traghetti have been operated by the same families for generations. As recently as the 1950s, there were some 30 of these gondola ferry routes. Today, there are just over half a dozen official routes, although you'll be lucky if you find more than two, three, or four operating at any given time. Two of the most reliable are:

Pescaria (Rialto fish market) - Santa Sofia (near Ca' d'Oro):

Traghetto map - Pescaria to Santa Sofia

San Tomà - Sant'Angelo:

Traghetto Map - San Toma to Sant'Angelo

Two other routes are convenient and operate with some regularity:

  • Giglio, from the gondola station by the Gritti Palace Hotel to Calle Lanza in Dorsoduro (near the Salute Church)

  • Dogana, from a pier near the tip of Dorsoduro to San Marco Vallaresso.

Other official routes are still marked on maps, but service can range from sporadic to non-existent:

  • Fondamente S. Lucia (in front of the railroad station) - Fondamenta San Simeón Piccolo

  • San Marcuola - Fóndaco dei Turchi (by the Natural History Museum)

  • Riva del Carbòn - Fondamente del Vin

  • San Samuele - Ca' Rezzónico

  • Note: Traghetto routes are clearly marked on some Venice street maps (look for straight lines across the Grand Canal), and you'll often see signs on buildings pointing toward the traghetto landings when you're walking through neighborhoods along the Grand Canal.


How to ride a traghetto

Venice traghetto prices

ABOVE: A sign at a traghetto pier shows the traghetti's two-tiered pricing scheme.

  • Follow the "Traghetto" signs to the nearest landing, which will be a small wooden pier along the edge of the Grand Canal. Boats normally shuttle back and forth almost continuously, so you shouldn't have to wait long if the service is running.

  • When the traghetto arrives from the other side of the canal, board the boat and find a place to sit or stand. Face backward, because the boat will turn as it leaves the dock. (Venetians traditionally stand during the crossing, but you're welcome to use a seat or perch on the gunwales, and an oarsman may gesture for you to sit down if his last batch of tourists toppled into the canal.)

  • Hand your fare to the oarsman as you board or leave the boat. If you don't have exact change, try to pay with coins instead of banknotes.


Other practical advice

  • Don't try to board a traghetto in a wheelchair, with a baby carriage, or with heavy luggage. Instead, use the No. 1 vaporetto, which has a flat deck and is fully accessible.

  • Hours of traghetto service are unpredictable at best. When they're operating, the boats are usually rowed back and forth across the Grand Canal from early in the morning until 7 or 8 p.m., or possibly a bit later in the summer (sometimes with a break for lunch).

    If you arrive at a traghetto platform and no boat is in sight, just do as the Venetians do and either take the vaporetto or save money by walking to the nearest bridge across the Grand Canal. (The vaporetto option makes the most sense when you have a one- to seven-day ACTV Travel Pass, which allows unlimited use of public water buses during the period of validity.)


Related videos

Traghetto Santa Sofia:


Traghetto at the Venice Fish Market:


More photos:

Giglio traghetto and gondola pier

ABOVE: The Giglio traghetto runs between a gondola station on the Campo del Traghetto in San Marco to Calle Lanza in Dorsoduro, not far from the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.


Giglio traghetto timetable on a bricola

ABOVE: A printed timetable shows operating hours for the Giglio traghetto service.


Santa Sofia traghetto pier

ABOVE: The Traghetto Santa Sofia operates between the Campo Santa Sofia in Cannaregio and the Pescheria, or Fish Market, on the opposite bank of the Grand Canal.


Traghetto San Toma sign

ABOVE: Sandwich signs along major pedestrian routes often identify traghetto routes that are operating. (This one points to the Traghetto San Tomà, which is next to the San Tomà vaporetto stop.)


MAP CREDITS: Walking maps by Anders Imboden, using base data from the Comune di Venezia and Regione Veneto under license IODL-2.0.