Thursday, October 04, 2018

Trains in Italy - Venice

This post is part of a series on trains I saw and/or rode while on vacation in Italy. Start at the beginning if you like.

After a few days in Florence, it was time to move on to our final Italian stop - Venice.

Florence Station

Of course, I had to take a few photos around the train station in Florence before we left...

Lots of bustle in the Florence train station

I like the raised pantograph in this photo

En Route to Venice

Our train - a Frecciargento train
We took a Frecciargento train between Florence and Venice. Frecciargento means "silver arrow" in Italian, and these trains can reach speeds up to 250 km/hr. Zoom zoom!

My wife and I both had window seats, facing each other. I was facing backward, but that didn't really bother me. The other two seats in our little group of 4 contained two loud Russians. My wife slept much of the trip and I kept my headphones in.

I snapped a few photos along the way with my cellphone.
Meeting another Frecciargento in Bologna
I'm not sure what this structure was in Bologna - another tower, maybe - but it was impressive.
Track-straddling structure in Bologna
I spotted this EuroSprinter (Siemens ES 64) locomotive later on. It's owned by Interporto Servizi Cargo, an intermodal railway in Italy. They own their own locomotives - electric and diesel - and about a hundred well cars for carrying containers.
Interporto Servizi Cargo locomotive
I like seeing the European rolling stock - wagons - as they are very different from North American freight cars.
Empty autoracks
Check out these two different kinds of "trucks on flatcars" (TOFC):
Railway trucks on flatcars

Highway trucks on flatcars
Of course, I always have a soft spot for small diesel locomotives.
Diesels in Italy
After two hours, we were on the causeway linking Venice to the mainland. This causeway carries both road and rail traffic to the city. Transportation in Venice is by foot, or by canal. Cars and trucks arriving via this causeway can basically only drive in a small portion of the city (Santa Croce, the port area).

The Death of Venice

Cruise ships, the doom of Venice
Much has been written about how tourism is destroying Venice. The city was obviously not built for the volume of tourists that stay (4.6 million people stayed at least one night in Venice in 2016), never mind the huge number of day-trippers by bus or cruise ship. In 2015 it received 30 million visitors.

Services like Airbnb have resulted in landlords jacking up rents to force residents out, so they can sell their apartments to short-term rentals for much higher prices. This is not limited to Venice, as other cities like Barcelona have the same issue.

I don't know what the solution is. The population of Venice is shrinking, the buildings are falling apart (and sinking), and there's no end in sight. Get there while you can, before Venice turns into an unoccupied museum.

Venice's Station

The Venice train station
We stayed in a hotel near the train station - the excellent Ca' Pozzo - so we didn't have far to haul our luggage. That was good, because if you walk any distance in Venice, you're going over a bridge.

The nice thing about being near the station is that it was easy to walk over to take a few photos now and then!

Here's a few trains I saw at the train station in Venice.
Trains in the Venice station
The below two trains were interesting. Italo is a privately owned company, in direct competition with state-owned Trenitalia on the Milan-Naples and Turin-Venice routes. ÖBB is the Austrian national railway (see my Austrian railway series).
Italo and OBB trains in Venice
I liked this bilevel train too.
Bilevel train in Venice
 I ended up going to the train station two mornings to record trains.

One more train...
Something a little different

Getting Around Venice

Many boats in Venice
There are so many boats in Venice. This is to be expected, given that it's the only motorized way to get around the city, but it's still surprising to see so many of them. From vaporetti (water buses) through water taxis to gondolas, there is a lot of passenger traffic on the Grand Canal and smaller canals.
A vaporetto in Venice
These are real city buses, with schedules, electronic displays, bus passes, the whole shebang.
Vaporetto / Water bus departure board
Of course, the city needs food, water, and many other goods, and those get around in various sizes of cargo vessels.
Cargo transport in Venice
Gondolas are for tourists, not for transportation. We did take a gondola ride and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Gondolas in Venice

A Few Tourist Photos

A vaporetto passing under the Rialto bridge at night
The Rialto bridge and St. Mark's Square are well known Venice landmarks. However, I'd say the whole city is a landmark and deserves to be explored. We could honestly have spent another week in the city and not finished wandering its twisty streets and canals.
Venice from up high
I was surprised to see a Canadian connection!
A Canadian in Venice?
The most beautiful part of Venice, in our opinion, is the island of Burano. This place was picture perfect.
Burano beauty

Leaving Italy

The water bus dock at the Venice airport
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and so our visit to Italy had to end. We took a water bus from just outside our hotel to the airport. I'd say this is one of the few places in the world you can take a boat to a major airport...

After waiting in a long line to pass through Customs, we headed out to our Air Canada Rouge plane for the long flight over the Atlantic toward home.
Air Canada Rouge plane

But Wait, There's More

This isn't the end of the series, though. I have one more post to make about the trams I saw in Italy. It'll be relatively short.

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