THE LAST TIME I flew into Venice’s Marco Polo airport was in the late 1960s with my parents. In those days, the airport was tiny in comparison with what it is now. Back then, there were two ways of reaching the city of Venice from Marco Polo: by bus to Piazzale Roma, or far more expensively, in a private water taxi, in effect a speed boat. Despite my mother’s tendency to become seasick easily, we always took the speedy water taxi from the airport to our pensione on the Fondamente Zattere. In those now distant times, the airport arrival hall was much closer to the shore of the lagoon than it is today.
Times have changed. The airport has grown and is far from the waterfront. Although there are still plenty of speedy water taxis carrying passengers, there is now a regular, moderately priced water bus service, which links Marco Polo to many points in Venice. We used this service.
As we crossed the lagoon, many water taxis sped past us. We passed Murano and the cemetery island of St Michele. Then, as we approached the Fondamente Nuova on Venice proper, I spotted the curious domed Bell Tower of the church of Madonna dell’Orto. I looked at it and felt a lump in my throat as I remembered the numerous times I visited that church with my parents to see the frescos within it. It was one of my favourite Venetian excursions, being taken to see that edifice.
After getting off at the wrong stop (mea culpa) and boarding another vessel, we reached our destination near the Gardens where much of the Venice Biennale happens. There is no doubt that arriving in Venice by traversing the water in a boat is far more dramatic and pleasant than arriving across the bridge by train or bus.