Venice – “T” is for Traghetto

Traghetto – The cross-Grand Canal gondola operated by two gondolier and carrying around 12-15 people (mostly standing).  A great “short-cut” when you are far from one of the few bridges across the Grand Canal!

To Market via Traghetto (c)2009 Randy D. Bosch

To Market via Traghetto (c)2009 Randy D. Bosch

Today, there are only eight fixed Traghetto routes still operating in Venice, all crossing the Grand Canal. 

Traghetti provide a great time-saving (and shoe-leather saving) “short-cut” when you are far from one of the few bridges across the Canale.  A little “balance” work is recommended, but few attempts to “walk on water” out of a traghetto seem to occur!

According to documents from 1697, there were then 42 traghetti, or water taxis, in the Lagoon of which only 23 had specific routes (referenced in a wonderful 2004 WPI study, Traditional Boats of Venice, page 55, available on-line at ).

Trust but verify is a “Renaissance Rule”, including sometimes trusting legend more than records!  In this case, an independent review of the “Disegno della Pianta di Venezia” map drafted in 1677, stated to be an excellently drafted copy of an earlier (perhaps 1620) map, confirms the reported 23 Traghetti routes (perhaps the same source?), included 19 crossing the Grand Canal and four crossing the Canal Della Giudeca:

  1. Da San Simeon piccolo al Corpus Dio, al Santa Lucia, e al Scalzi
  2. Da San Simeon piccolo al Santa Lucia
  3. Da San Simeon piccolo al Scalzi
  4. Dalla Riva di Basio a San Geremia
  5. Dalla Fontico de’Turchi a San Marcuole
  6. Dalla San Stae alla Madalena
  7. Dalla Riva dell;Basio a San Felise
  8. Dalla Pescaria di Rialto a Santa Sofia
  9. Dalla Fabriche al Lion Bianco
  10. Dalla Erbia al Buso (west foot of Rialto Bridge on San Marco side of Canale)
  11. Dalla Riva del Vin a Ca’Dolfin
  12. Dalla San Silvestro alla Riva del Carbon
  13. Dalla San Aponal a San Benetto
  14. Dalla San Toma a Ca’Garzoni
  15. Dalla San Barnaba a San Samuel
  16. Dalla Carita a San Vidal
  17. Dalla San Vio a San Maurizio
  18. Dalla San Gregorio a Santa Maria Zobenigo
  19. Dalla Salute a San Moise
  20. Dalla Dogana a l’Fontico della Farina
  21. Dalla Colone a San Giorgio, ed alla Giudeca

And the mid-1600’s Giudecca routes:

  1. Dalla Prissioni a San Giorgio
  2. Dalla Spirito Santo al Redentor
  3. Dalla San Trovaso a Santa Eufemia

The 2004 WPI study also found 19 route references still in existance today as wall signs demarking calle, ramo, corte or campiello that include the name Traghetto.

To date, I have noted a number of Traghetto names on physical routes and places in Venice from personal observation in an attempt to further my understanding of the historical structure of the City (part of my collection of souvenirs without clutter!).  I have only “found” sixteen so far, defining fifteen traghetto routes, as listed below.  Where identified, “from – to” locations are also noted:

  1. Fondamente della Salute (Dorsoduro)          <->Vallerosso (San Marco)
  2. Calle de Traghetto San Giorgio (Dorsoduro)<->Campiello Traghetto (SMZobenigo)
  3. Campo San Vio (Dorsoduro)                           <->Fondamente del Traghetto S.Maurizio
  4. Calle & Fondamente del Traghetto (S.Barnaba)<->Campo San Samuele
  5. Calle del Traghetto Vecchio (S.Toma)        <-> Calle Traghetto Garzoni (old route)  
  6. Fondamente/Calle del Traghetto (S.Toma)<->Calle Traghetto Garzani (new route)
  7. Calle del Traghetto della Madonneta          <->Calle del Traghetto (Cpo S.Benedetto)
  8. Sottoportego del Traghetto (Riva del Vin) <->Riva del Carbon
  9. Fondamente Erbia                                             <->Fondamente Traghetto del Buso
  10. Campo della Pescaria                                        <->Campo Santa Sofia
  11. Salizzada del Fontega dei Turchi                     <->Campo San Marcuola
  12. Calle del Traghetto Santa Lucia                   <->Campo Santa Lucia (demolished)
  13.  Riva de Basio                                                     <->Calle del Traghetto (Cpo. San Felice)
  14. Campiello del Traghetto (Sta.Margarita)    <->Campo San Pantalon
  15. Calle del Traghetto (w. of Rio Apostoli)       <->Rio Terra Santi Apostoli)
  16. Campo San Stae                                                 <->Calle del Traghetto (della’Madallena) 

Perhaps you have identified other “old signs” of Traghetti accessways and landings around the City that have not been demolished or obscured through renaming as more bridges were built, conquerors honored or Rio Terra developed.  If so, please share your discoveries for the collection!

If there can be a Rio Terra, a good remembrance of canals past but an oxymoron all the same, cannot some of your traghetto-less Rio Terra crossings be…

Walking on Dry Water?


About randysrules

From a professional background in architecture, community and regional planning, urban design, leadership, and fine arts, this blog provides insights on ethics, leadership, architecture/planning/urban design, Venice, and whatever intrigues me at the time. Enjoy!
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