If you’ve been to Venice, or seen pictures of it, you’ll know it’s a city of little islands in a lagoon within the Adriatic Sea. Most people get around by boat, along a network of waterways leading off from the magnificent Grand Canal. While many are privately owned, sharing their routes with freight-carrying craft, the city has a fleet of public waterbuses, or vaporetti, which move thousands of people every day. In charge of these is Gianluca Cuzzolin–inevitably a very busy man–so we were delighted that he spared some time to answer a few quick questions:
Q: You’re director of waterborne transport services here–give us some idea of the numbers involved.
A: There are over 100 boats in the daily fleet. Others are available, some are in maintenance and so on. We are also responsible for the floating pontoons where the boats stop. In one day we carry between 120,000 and 200,000 people. That’s divided roughly into 70% commuters and 30% tourists, and means we provide 535,000 hours of navigation a year. Then there are around 1,150 crew members in the summer months; fewer in the winter (around 975), plus around 100 office staff.
Q: You can see some incredible buildings and bridges from the waterbuses along the Grand Canal and there are so many places to stop and explore, like the magnificent St Mark’s Basilica in Piazza San Marco, for instance. Can you share a secret stop that’s not quite so busy?
A: I would suggest Zattere. It is quieter; you can walk along the promenade, and see some wonderful buildings such as the Custom House, and look across to the church (Redentore), on the other side of the water. There are restaurants here–and it’s a very good place for ice cream!
Q: OK–and as the director of the waterboats, we’d better ask if you actually use them yourself!
A: Whilst I have access to the company boat, I tend to use the vaporetto most days. It’s important to test my own service!
You can find more about vaporetti routes, times and ticket prices here: http://actv.avmspa.it