The Brenta Canal was built to facilitate navigation between Venice and the city of Padua. Wealthy Venetians built magnificent villas along the banks of the canal – the “Riviera del Brenta” – to escape the heat of the lagoon in high summer. Being in Venice in July we too decided to escape the heat and crowds of Venice and took a boat up the Brenta. It makes a great day trip.The Burchiello moored outside Palladio’s Villa
We left our hotel on the Lido early in the day to get to the departure point, one of the piers on the Schiavoni, just down from St Mark’s, by 9am. The boat that runs most days up or down the Brenta canal between Venice and Padua is called the Burchiello, named after the boat that made the same trip in the eighteenth century. From the Blue Guide: “Those who, for one reason or another, chose not to make the trip up the canal in the family gondola took the burchiello, a large riverboat rowed by slaves or pulled by horses–a ‘marvellous and comfortable craft’, as Goldoni recalls, ‘in which one glides along the Brenta sheletered from winter’s cold and summer’s ardour’.” (According to the guide the trip can also be made by bicycle along a marked cycle route.) The time table is on their website (somedays it goes up from Venice to Padua, some days back the other way): www.ilburchiello.com and tickets should be bought in advance, we got them from a travel agent on the Lido (they add EUR 20 to the cost) but you can also do it from the website or hotel concierge.
There is more information in the Blue Guide (NB Blue Guide Northern Italy, not the Venice guide), we can recommend it as a peaceful day out with plenty to see but not too much hassle. We didn’t take the pre-arranged lunch (you pay less) but found agood restaurant in Oriago where the boat moors for lunch. I’d be interested to know what the lunch they offer was like if anyone has done that.