Lennard Zinn in Venice
Each morning during the ExpoBici bike show in Padua, I’ve been riding toward Venice along the Riviera del Brenta, as I have 1.5 hours each day to squeeze in a ride between when breakfast opens (and it becomes light) and when my shuttle leaves for the bike show.
Wealthy Venetians back in the day apparently hated traveling by land. To escape the congested island in the lagoon, and because starting in 1345 residents of the SerenissimaRepubblica di Venezia were not allowed to own land on the island, they built enormous villas inland toward Padua along the Brenta Riviera, a navigable canal off the Brenta river (which flows relatively freely to Padua from Trento and Bassano del Grappa) with locks every 10km or so to control the level. The Riviera del Brenta was considered an extension of Venice’s Grand Canal and went all of the way to Padua (35km), and it included many side canals and loops to get all over the place without leaving the boats. Crews would row the luxurious barges across to the mainland from the island of Venice, and then horses would drag the barges up and down the Riviera del Brenta. In the mid 1700s, Casanova and his friends traveled this way from party to party at the huge villas lining the canal.
Check out my daily route (http://bit.ly/nZoEM9). Each day I see more hidden villas with vast, elegant grounds. A lot of them seem abandoned; it would be fun to fix one up and live in it, switching off kayaking to Venice and riding to Venice from there, but the wait for Casanova would be in vain unless he’s on Elvis’s program.