Where Venice - - Contents - BY ELE­NA BINDA

An island, a to­wn and a na­tu­re re­ser­ve, but al­so a jet-set­ters' pa­ra­di­se.

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 Ni­co­lò, the roc­ky out­crops of the Mu­raz­zi, or the bea­ch kno­wn to the Ve­ne­tians as ‘Blue­moon”.

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.

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 Ni­co­lò, 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 Pel­le­stri­na (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.

SPE­CIAL EVEN­TS - For ma­ny years the Lido has been the play­ground of ce­le­bri­ties and cro­w­ned heads. It all be­gans in the se­cond half of the

19th cen­tu­ry when the in­ter­na­tio­nal jet-set di­sco­ve­red its long san­dy bea­ches. It is the­re­fo­re not sur­pri­sing that in Au­gu­st 1932 the ter­ra­ce of the Ho­tel Ex­cel­sior ho­sted the fir­st film fe­sti­val, at­ten­ded by all the film stars of the ti­me. Then, a spe­cial lo­ca­tion, the Pa­laz­zo del Ci­ne­ma, was as­si­gned to the mo­st gla­mo­rous event of the year.

At the end of sum­mer, the fe­sti­val turns the slee­py Lido in­to a mi­ni Hol­ly­wood, at­trac­ting ri­sing stars of the screen, ea­ger to be pho­to­gra­phed, plus hor­des of fans, film buffs and on­loo­kers.

ICO­NIC LAND­MARKS. Left, da­ting back to cir­ca 1935, this ‘Ani­ma­ted view of the Grand Ho­tel Ex­cel­sior on the Lido in Ve­ni­ce' is a part of the pre­sti­gious Ali­na­ri Ar­chi­ves of Flo­ren­ce. In ad­di­tion to other pri­ce­less ori­gi­nals in al­bu­min, this pe­riod...

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