getting around Venice

Mar 9th, 2007, 02:42 PM
  #1  
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getting around Venice

I am claustrophobic and not a swimmer, I would like to have an idea how deep is the water where the gondolas or vaporetto go through. Don't laugh but I really am not a "water person" but Venice is water and I can't wait to see it. Please tell me if I should calm down and not fret about this. Thanks.
caribegirl23 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 02:44 PM
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Calm down and do not fret about this.
saps is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 02:47 PM
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This thread should help you (and I hope make you laugh too!)...it's one of my favorites:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34477053
Slow_Wanderer is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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No worries. The water is really shallow - you can stand in every canal. It wouldn't even be possible to swim if you happened to be a swimmer - just too shallow. The Venetian gondola is a boat particularly designed for shallow water - the main problem for boats all over the lagoon (not just in the city) is that the water is TOO shallow, and most boats cannot even pass. "Streets" across the lagoon for the (somewhat) bigger boats like vaporettos and so on have to be unsilted every year.
franco is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 02:51 PM
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Oops, I posted the wrong thread (the follow up thread rather than the original)...this is thread that most directly pertains to your question:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34476606
Slow_Wanderer is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 02:52 PM
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I know that the joy you will feel the first time you see Venice will outweigh your fear of the water. You will also feel proud that you did not let your fear control you. If I let my fear of flying, and I mean sheer terror, keep me trapped in California, then I would never see all the wonderful places that are out there. Sure, you will still have some anxiety, but you will just have to breathe and refocus onto something else, or else it can really get a hold of you. Good luck to you! Let us know how you did when you return.
michele_d is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 03:26 PM
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Caribegirl-the average depth of the Grand Canal, is around 17 feet (don't quite understand what the other poster is saying about being able to stand in every canal-that simply isn't true!) It's not very deep, but it is deep enough to drown in, and gondolas do overturn in the Grand Canal and also in the Basin of San Marco (out in front of the Piazza San Marco, the shipping lanes are very deep, because obviously, you have cruise ships passing through), and people have drowned, but of course, that would be true of any body of water that is near human habitation, and has water deep enough to be over your head. However, that is not something for you to worry about at all- you can always stick to the wide and narrow streets all over Venice and admire the water from afar in the lovely piazzas-you really will like the effect, trust me on this.
Girlspytravel is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 04:16 PM
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Smaller side canals are often not very deep. But the main ones have to be - or the larger boats would get stuck.

But don;t understand your fear unless you plan on having a mad urge to throw yourself into one of the canals.

The sidewalks near the main canals are usually fairly wide - often piazzas; the sidewalks near the smaller one are often narrower (but still as wide as 2 city pavement squares).

And to get to several places you will need to get on and off a variety of boats. Just don;t let yourself be rushed and be sure the boat is well tied to the dock before you step across from the dock. If in doubt - ask someone to help you step across.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 05:25 PM
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Exploring the world by Google certainly has its advantages, no doubt - but its disadvantages as well, see above. When my Venetian friend Bruno fell into the Canal Grande after a night of drinking with other friends, at the end of Calle del Traghetto near the S. Maria del Giglio vaporetto stop, he could stand there; and no, he's not 20 feet tall. When another of my friends told me two days or so later (I had not been with them on that evening), I was shocked - my Venice knowledge, at that time, was about as good as yours is now, Girlspytravel. My Venetian friends would laugh at me - the secret is that also the Grand Canal is shallow on the edges, as shallow as the small canals: about 3 feet, not 15 or 17. Of course, if you'd dive into the water from the rear of your vaporetto right in the middle of the Canal Grande, you couldn't stand there. Most people, however, prefer to fall in on the edge, if at all... (No, Bruno's fall wasn't that funny; not only was he wet and dirty, he also lost his glasses. No danger of being drowned, though.)
franco is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 07:02 PM
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I don't know how deep the water is, but a vaporetto is a fairly wide, sturdy boat. I don't think you'd have a problem there. If you're really worried, you might want to avoid a gondola, a much more narrow boat. And yes, you can have a wonderful visit to Venice without taking a gondola ride!
SusanP is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 04:03 PM
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First, thanks Michele_d for the advice, I certainly will try it. I was very happy and relieved after reading Franco's answer about shallow water, but my happiness went down the drain when I read girlspytravel's reply about water 17 ft. deep (I am 5 ft 2!) and drowning! Now I am more scared about taking a gondola ride or the vaporetto than before I sent in my post. Anybody who can try to make me feel better? Thanks to all anyway.
caribegirl23 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 05:33 PM
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"my happiness went down the drain when I read girlspytravel's reply " You are not the first one to have that sort of feeling after a girlspytravel post

Please ignore that silliness, she does tend to over dramatize things. You really have nothing to worry about - hundreds of thousands of folks take gondolas and vaporettos every year w/o drowning or even getting wet.
janisj is online now  
Mar 11th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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A gondola is a farily narrow boat and you may choose not to ride in one.

However a vaporetto is a large and wide boat with a roof that holds many people. Even if one were to sink (I'm not sure how) I'm sure the top of the boat would be above the water.

And people in Venice who have problems with canals are almost always drunk and simply fall in. So - don;t drink enough to get drunk and don't walk right along the edge of the canal.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 05:37 PM
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In three trips to Venice I have never seen anyone fall into the canal. Both the Vaporetto and gondolos are very safe. Besides, there are so many people around, including the gondolier and the staff running the vaporetto, that you would surely be saved before you drowned if you did happen to fall in. I can't imagine how it is possible to fall into a venetian canal unless there is a large amount of alcohol thrown into the equation. Relax and enjoy the most wonderful city in the world, if you fall in someone will be at hand to save you I am certain.
jdraper is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 05:39 PM
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caribegirl, that was exactly what I was afraid of when reading Girlspytravel's post, too... but you did read my reply as well, didn't you? Don't let it get down to you; you seem to be relatively new on this board, right?, or you'd know that Girlspytravel has a certain reputation for being the very nicest and most sensitive of all Fodorites... I repeat, all Venetian canals are only about 3 ft deep, and the same is true for the edges of the two big (and deeper) canals, the Canal Grande and the Canale della Giudecca. What a tremendous rubbish to tell that gondolas are overturning in the Canal Grande; it's really malicious to pretend something like that. Maybe she's been watching to many B-pictures on Venice! In reality, though, it doesn't ever happen. And the vaporettos are the safest boats in the world, it's much more probable that you're getting drowned while washing the dishes at home in your kitchen (just kidding). Uuuuuh, I'm curious which NICE reply she'll have for me, but I had to put it this way, it was simply too mean-spirited what she did to Caribegirl!
franco is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 06:18 PM
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Janisj-I'm not quite sure what the point of your derogatory post was-is it some form of oblique jealousy? Because it sure sounds like it-but what I can say, is that YOUR post was totally non-sensical. The fact of the matter is, people DO drown in the Grand Canal, and they have done so within the past 3 years, since you never are in Italy, and know nothing about Venice, you really wouldn't know that, would you? But I'll be in Venice on Thursday, and I can tell you, for a fact that although the tourist information sites won't tell you, there are a number of gondola accidents, some more serious than others, that occur every year in Venice. But you wouldn't know that, would you? Since you don't go to Venice, nor do you speak Italian. But I DO notice that you sometimes post on matters that you have absolutely no knowledge of, I guess it's a self-esteem problem with you, or something, I don't know, to make you feel more superior? Whatever-it's silly, and very catty, but ultimately, what you are saying has no validity, because you don't know Venice-and that's the bottom line.


Girlspytravel is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 09:05 PM
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Have to put my 2 cents in: I understand fear! I'm afraid of heights!
But I either read in a travel magazine or saw on the Travel channel that the Gondoliers (?) (guys who tend the boats), go through training for about ONE YEAR, and have to pass a stringent test to get a license. Sounds like they are the BEST and SAFEST they could possibly be!
MildredAY is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 05:11 AM
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Hi C,

Calm down and stop fretting.

You are not going to accidentally fall into a canal from the street or fall off a vaporetto (they are big ships), unless you are falling down drunk.

I suggest that you not bother with a gondola ride. They are small boats, and too expensive anyway.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 05:22 AM
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Ok - I'm willing to be the bad guy on this thread, because I don't get by with Girlspytravel's total lack of education, esthesia and humanity anymore. In her invective against janisj, she's given a fairly complete account of her own motives for posting on Fodor's, I guess... I don't know anything about janisj's Venice knowledge, but Girlspy: if you're right that she doesn't know the city, all the worse for you, cause even in this case, she's given much better and more intelligent advice on Venice than you did. If you are soooo fluent in Italian, and in googling, why don't you simply google "incidente - Canal Grande - gondola OR vaporetto"? You'd find Italian newspaper articles and the like (no tourist websites), and realize - attention, caribegirl - that the last gondola accident so far was in September 2005 (a collision, no overturned gondola, nobody harmed), and the last overturned gondola obviously in November 2003, with 14 wet passengers and again, nobody harmed. The ONE AND ONLY tourist drowned in a gondola accident over the entire more than 1500 years of Venetian history occurred on August 2nd, 1992.
See, e.g., http://www.corriere.it/Primo_Piano/C.../gondola.shtml or http://www.feempandora.it/news_archi...ids=132&pag=41.
franco is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 07:38 AM
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I think that the idea that venice is water is a bit confused. Venice is a set of paved islands, connected with bridges, and mostly experienced walking, on paved stone streets and over bridges, with walls on the side. You may walk along canals, too, but there is no need to get close (think of a wide sidewalk), and the water is quite still in most of the canals, and much safer to walk along then, say, a street of moving cars. While the boats are needed to get things around (since there is no auto traffic in venice) the venetians mainly travel on foot and you will too. The last time we were in Venice (8 days) we took a boat on 1 day. It was just not necessary.

Finally the boats - no need to take gondolas (Im not going to get into whether they are tippy or safe) they are mainly a tourist attraction you can take or leave. the waterbuses (autoscafi and vaporetti) are big and wide and you can sit in an enclosed space and feel very safe, if you decide to take them.

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