The magic of the Lido isn’t just “being removed from the action of mass tourism,” writes Julia Buckley at The Independent. “The magic is that although it’s full of tourists, it’s also full of locals. It’s a real place, inhabited by people who saw what happened to Venice and want to make sure it never happens again (almost everyone I meet on the Lido tells me that they used to live in town, until town got unbearable).” Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, explains Buckley, the Lido was “the place to be … Europe’s glam set descended every summer. They built everything from belle époque villas to beach cabins. They liked the art on offer in town, of course -- and they loved the intellectual air it leant to their fun in the sun -- but they liked the Lido even more.” But as Venice exploded in popularity in the 20th century, “the Lido had an identity crisis.” The result: today’s locals are “taking care to curate it: to keep the small businesses open, to retain a sense of community, to keep things on a small scale, to keep them local.”
This 12km barrier island once quartered visiting navies and attracted Europe’s early 20th-century aristocratic holidaymakers, is still Venice’s beach and bastion. Lido’s high season peaks in late August and early September, when the star-spotters pile on the vaporetto to catch a glimpse of rich and famous at the Venice Film Festival. But take some time to “enjoy the sandy cost of Lido,” advises Jasmina Kanuric at The Culture Trip. Your budget will dictate whether you go to a private or public beach. Lido’s public beach is located to the north. One of the best private beaches is Hotel Excelsior Beach.
Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, commonly called Gran Viale, is the main strip. The street crosses the whole island from the vaporetto stop and is dotted by hotels, shops and eateries. “Look up at the buildings on either side,” recommends Italy Heaven and “don't miss the fish details on top of a left-hand façade as you reach the sea.” But nature is the real star of Lido. The Alberoni Oasis is a protected reserve, located on the south end of Lido island. It holds one of the largest and best-preserved dune systems on the coasts of the Northern Adriatic Sea. It is “a unique environment used as a stopover and winter habitat for numerous birds,” says Venezia Unica.
The island’s charms inspired the likes of Byron to poetic heights. You can look into his study room in the Armenian Monastery, where a permanent exhibition is devoted to the writer. Elsewhere, the church of San Nicolò al Lido was founded in the early days of Venice and formed the most important of three sea entrances to the lagoon. You can also walk around the nearby Ancient Jewish Cemetery. And take time to explore Malamocco, an idyllic village connected to the Lido by a series of bridges, whose “pastel Gothic palaces were built by the doges of Venice when they established a capital here in the eighth century,” recounts Conde Nast Traveller. The most prominent landmarks include the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, Ponte Borgo (the oldest bridge in the village), and Palazzo del Podestà, where the village’s mayors resided until 1339.
To the south is Pellestrina, another barrier island, but this time almost exclusively populated by fishermen. “There are many reasons to visit this island,” explains Nicoletta Fornaro at Naturally Epicurean, “but out of all of them the best one is the authentic and simple dimension of the place.” Smaller islands dot the foreground, the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni is “home of Mechitarists (the Armenian Catholics),” says John Carswell in City Secrets, while San Servolo is the location of the city university and an abandoned asylum, which now houses the Museum of Madness. More enticing is the recent opening of the J W Marriott resort on the private-island Isole della Rose with its luxurious rooftop spa and Michelin-starred restaurant.
The entire area has an enviable reputation for seafood, writes The Culture Trip recommending a top-ten list of restaurants ranging from the “friendly and relaxed” Da Cri Cri e Tendina to Villa Mabapa; popular with the locals, it is famous for its high-quality Venetian cuisine, “accompanied by their in-house pianist.” Or you can head to the pricey Osteria, advises Anne Hanley in The Telegraph. “The staff can be off-hand, but you're paying for top-quality, straight-off-the-boat Adriatic fish and seafood.”
Even the way it slides off the tongue in Italian sounds luxe and slightly louche: Leeed-oh. This 12km barrier island, which once quartered visiting navies and attracted Europe's early 20th-century aristocratic holidaymakers, is still Venice's beach and bastion. And these days it reinventing itself as a hub of sustainable tourism, writes Julia Buckley at The Independent.
To the south is Pellestrina, another barrier island, but this time almost exclusively populated by fishermen. "There are many reasons to visit this island," explains Nicoletta Fornaro at Naturally Epicurean, "but out of all of them the best one is the authentic and simple dimension of the place." Smaller islands dot the foreground, the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni is "home of Mechitarists (the Armenian Catholics)," reveals John Carswell in City Secrets, while San Servolo is the location of the city university and an abandoned asylum, which now houses the Museum of Madness. More enticing is the recent opening of the J W Marriott resort on the private-island Isole della Rose with its luxurious rooftop spa and Michelin-starred restaurant.
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