Lido di Venezia: Part 2, covers the island’s military role in the defence of Venice and its lagoon islands; together with the urbanisation and development of the island in the 19th and 20th centuries, as a suburb of Venice and its most famous holiday resort.
Lido di Venezia: Part 1. This post covers more general descriptive, historical and cultural information, to help maximise your appreciation of what the island has to offer. Just a few kilometres south of Venice, it has a quite different atmosphere and appeal; that makes a great day away from the city, especially in summer.
The information is split into two posts, so as to give a more comprehensive and detailed overview of this historically important and fascinating barrier island; guarding access to the lagoon and its numerous islands.
MILITARY ROLE – DEFENDING THE LAGOON
Until the 19th century, Lido di Venezia’s main role was a military one for the defence of the lagoon. At its northern end is the lido inlet, the widest point of entry of the lagoon and the one which is closest to Venice. It continued to have a military role until WW II.
Prior to the 19th century, it was also a scarcely populated island. In 1820, the Lido had 814 recorded inhabitants; 662 of whom lived in Malamocco and 152 in San Nicolò.
In 600, a lookout tower was built at San Nicolò, at the northern end of Lido on its lagoon side shore; to monitor enemy and particularly pirate ships, approaching the lagoon at the Lido inlet. In 1100, it was developed into a fort, under the doge Vitale I Michiel (1096-1102) and later named “Castel Vecchio” (Old Castle).
In 1229, crossbow shooting ranges were created in areas of Venice; for weekly exercises by men between the ages of 16 and 35. In the same year, a shooting range was established at San Nicolò; hosting shooting contests at Christmas and Easter, to make the exercises more interesting.
Infantry, cavalry, and artillery units were also stationed in the area and foundries for armaments and munitions, were built where the Jewish cemetery was later set up. In 1304 a militia was instituted.
Sailing to the Lido, was also turned into a contest. The men rowed to the island on boats with 30-40 oarsmen, called “ganzaruoli”; competing over who would get there first. This is probably the origin of the word “regatta”.
A lighthouse was also built close to the shooting range. A permanent garrison was set up, serving as rest area for troops in transit. Wells were built to supply freshwater to ships leaving the city.
In the mid-14th century, tensions between Venice and the Republic of Genoa escalated due to their rivalry over supremacy of the naval routes and trading ports in the eastern Mediterranean. 1318. Indeed, San Nicolo was bombarded several times by a Genoese fleet.
The Lido and Pellestrina barrier islands, extending to the horizon top right. Bottom left is the vaporetto complex of Santa Maria Elisabetta.
In 1335 the “Gagiandra” (turtle in Venetian) was built. It was a platform for artillery, which was placed in the Lido channel to Venice. It was broad and tapered at the stern and bow and was covered by a metal plate which acted as a shield. The canons stuck out of this shield, giving it the appearance of a turtle.
The platform was placed between the Castel Vecchio (Old Castle) at San Nicolo and the Castel Novo (New Castle) on the island of Vignole. These two islands with the island of Certosa, formed the shores of the channel. An iron chain was placed across the channel and was supported by the Gagiandra and two rafts placed midway between the “turtle” and the two shores. The chain was kept close to the surface of the water, to prevent enemy ships to pass above it.
In 1379, Genoa attacked the lagoon in the War of Chioggia (1379–80). Two towers were built as platforms for crossbows and cannons at the Castel Vecchio on the Lido and the Castel Novo on Vignole, on the two sides of the Lido channel; to further protect the entrance to the lagoon. Small boats chained together, were placed between the two towers. Between them, there were three ships with archers covered with fresh hides; to protect them from fire. The S. Nicoló abbey, was protected by a ditch and earthen rampart, strengthened with stone. Eventually Venice won the war.
In 1409, an admiralty was established at San Nicolo. In 1520, the Council of Ten, raised a building called the “Casa Rossa” (Red House); to house its offices and barracks for the officers. They were entrusted with monitoring the Lido, its fortresses, inlet and the way the sea changed its beaches.
In the 16th century, with the Turkish conquests in south-eastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean; they were considered a threat to Venetian dominion in that part of the Mediterranean and to Venice itself.
Between 1543 and 1549, Castel Novo on the Vignole island, was developed into the Sant’Andrea fort. Between 1546 and 1574, Castel Vecchio at San Nicolò was developed into the San Nicolo fort. Between 1569 and 1574, the latter was strengthened with a triple ditch. Artillery was placed on the seaward side. There were no batteries on the lagoon side, in case the fortress was seized and the cannons would be used against the Sant’Andrea fort.
The fort complex, became the military headquarters of the Republic of Venice. The whole area became an over 500 metre long, fortified citadel; stretching along the lagoon coast with brick barriers and bastions, a dike and an earthen fore-wall.
It was later was extended towards the sea with angular barriers, six gates and underground exits on the sea beach side; towards the entrance to the Lido inlet. Inside the new fortification, there were the old San Nicolò church and its convent and the adjacent Casa Rossa at the back. In 1572 an Istrian stone bridge that looked like a triumphal arch over the dock was built to provide access to the citadel.
Large barracks for the troops, known as “Saraglio”, “Quartier Grando” or “Palazzo dei Soldati” (Stronghold, Large Quarters or Building of the Soldiers), were built between 1591 and 1594. It was an imposing building which provided lodgings for 2000 soldiers.
It was the first true barracks in Europe, the first instance in which troops were lodged in peacetime; an important step towards the creation of a modern army, as opposed to a mercenary army or militia. It was built on the location where the crusaders had gathered before setting off for the fourth crusade. From 1600, the barracks hosted the “Fanti da Mar” (Infantrymen of the Sea), the first amphibian troops in history and perhaps a precursor of today’s marines.
In 1571, a decision was made to build octagonal forts for artillery batteries; on islets off the lagoon side shore of Lido. They were the “Ottagono Campana” (later called Abbandonato, abandoned octagon), between Malamocco and Alberoni (off the southern end of the Lido island). The “Ottagono Alberoni”, by Alberoni and the northern end of the Malamocco inlet. This was the other point of access into the lagoon; where ships could turn towards Venice.
The “Ottagono di Poveglia” (Left), further north on the Poveglia island, just off Malamocco; acted as a reinforcement for the other two octagons further south.
A further two octagons were built off the Pellestrina island, the “Ottagono San Pietro”, at the northern end of the island and the southern end of the Malamocco inlet. Finally, the “Ottagono Ca’Roman”, at the southern end of Pellestrina; to guard the Chioggia inlet, the third entry point of the lagoon. In 1572, 75 artillery were supplied for the San Nicolo fort and 56 for Sant’Andrea.
San Nicolo, was also where the soldiers and the ships for Venice’s naval expeditions in the Adriatic Sea and the rest of the Mediterranean Sea; gathered and set off from.
Examples of these expeditions were:
- In 1000, the doge Pietro II Orseolo(991-1099), set off for a mission to Istria and Dalmatia; which freed the northern Adriatic from the Narentine
- In 1099, 207 ships set off at the end of the first crusade, to help the crusaders to consolidate their conquests. It defeated a fleet of their Genoese rivals off Rhodes.
- In 1124, a fleet sets off to free the King of Jerusalem,who had been imprisoned in Tyre, Lebanon. It had 108 vessels, 40 galleys 40 supply ships and 28 ships with rams. It besieged and seized Tyre.
- In 1171, a fleet set off for a battle against the Byzantine emperor Emmanuel Kommenos, who had the Venetians in Constantinople arrested. The fleet was defeated more by the plague, than the Byzantines; who were was joined by the rival maritime republics of Genoa and Pisa.
- In 1202, the crusaders of the fourth crusade gathered at Lido, in preparation to be taken to the East by Venetian ships.
- In 1690, Francesco Morosini set off for a campaign in the Peloponnese. He was elected as doge while away. He was met at Lido by the abbot, while the senators waited for him with the Bucintoro; the ceremonial boat of the doge.
- In 1784, there was a punitive expedition against the Barbary pirates
“The Battle of Lepanto of 1571” by Andries van Eertvelt (1640). The Venetian fleet in action against the Ottoman Turks.
POPE, EMPEROR AND THE “PEACE OF VENICE”
The emperor Frederick I, Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire (reigned 1155-1190); conducted six military campaigns in Italy.
Originally, he wanted to confront the Norman Kingdom of Sicily in the south. However, his intervention in Italy was opposed by several Italian cities, particularly Milan; which he had partially destroyed during his second campaign.
A dispute with Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) developed, because Frederick endorsed antipope Victor IV; who had been elected in opposition to Alexander. Opposition against Frederick in northern Italy grew and the Lombard League; a league formed by several cities, fought him. Frederick was defeated at the Battle of Legnano in 1176. Preliminary peace negotiations took place at Anagni (the Peace of Anagni) in 1176.
Negotiations involving all the concerned parties to reach a formal peace treaty took place in Venice, where a conference was scheduled for July 1177. The doge Sebastiano Ziani (1172–78), was to act as an intermediary.
The pope arrived in Venice on 10 May 1177. Negotiations with the Lombard League and the king of Sicily started; but they were taking a hard stance. Frederick was not allowed to go to Venice and waited for news in Ravenna. A pro-Frederick faction in Venice encouraged Frederick to come to Venice in defiance of the veto, but the emperor declined to do so without the doge’s approval. Because of internal pressure, Ziani hesitated. The envoys of the League, left Venice for Treviso in protest. The head of the Sicilian delegation threatened to leave and said that his king would take revenge on Venice’s breach of faith. This would have meant retaliation against Venetian traders in Sicily. The doge confirmed that Frederick would be allowed to enter Venice, only after this received papal approval.
This situation highlighted the danger of a breakdown in the talks and negotiations then proceeded more rapidly. On 23 July, the agreement was completed and at the pope’s request, Venetian ships went to Chioggia to pick up the emperor, who was taken to Lido.
Four cardinals went there to meet him there. Frederick recognised Alexander as the rightful pope and could now be allowed to enter Venice. Doge Ziani went to meet him at San Nicolo and took him to Venice with great pomp. A ceremony was held at St. Mark’s Basilica.
THE WEDDING TO THE SEA
In 1000, the doge Pietro II Orseolo (991-1009) set off for a mission to Istria and Dalmatia, which freed the northern Adriatic from the Narentine pirates. Istria and Dalmatia accepted Venice’s suzerainty.
(Note: Suzerainty is a relationship in which one state or other polity, controls the foreign policy and relations of a tributary state; while allowing it to have internal autonomy).
The Venetians celebrated with the “Benedictio del Mare” (Blessing of the Sea) ceremony, which was held annually until 1177. After Venice’s mediation, which led to the Peace of Venice; it was replaced by the “Sposalizio col Mare” (Wedding with the Sea).
Above: Guglielmo Da Re – “The Bucintoro with the church of San Nicolo at Lido, Venice“.
In this ceremony, the doge sailed for the Lido on the “bucintoro” (the doge’s ceremonial ship) with the top clergy, the top officials of the Republic of Venice and ambassadors. This was followed by a large number of Venetians on various kinds of vessels. It was a festive parade.
Between Lido and the Sant’Andrea island, where the Lagoon of Venice meets the Adriatic Sea; the doge took a golden ring, donated pope Alexander III. He then threw it into the sea, although it was attached to a string for retrieval. The doge then recited “We marry thee, oh sea, in a sign of eternal domination.”
The ceremony ended in 1797, when the Republic fell with its conquest by Napoleon. It was performed on the first Sunday after Ascension day.
The ceremony and fete were performed again in 1965 and in 1988. The latter was an initiative by private citizens, cultural and sport associations; which wanted to relaunch the celebrations. The ceremony became permanent and is now led by the mayor of Venice.
The ceremony was also associated with the “Festa della Sensa” (Fete of Ascension). In 1180 it developed into the “Fiera della Sensa” (Ascension Fair). There were acrobats, jugglers and minstrels in all the streets of Venice, as well as a large market in St. Mark’s Square.
From 1307, the market had especially prepared stands, which over time became more decoratively elaborate. Goods of all kinds and from all over the world were displayed.
19th CENTURY DEVELOPMENTS
The accumulation of sand carried by the sea at the Malamocco and Lido inlets, made their navigability problematic.
During the second Napoleonic occupation (1806–14), it was decided to build breakwaters each side of the Malamocco inlet.
One was to be built at Alberoni, on the southern tip of Lido. However, the works were not completed due to the second Austrian occupation (1814–48) and unfortunately they disagreed with the French plans. The project was entrusted to the engineer Pietro Paleocapa. Eventually works at Alberoni started in 1838 and were completed in 1845.
Works on the southern breakwater at Santa Maria del Mare, on the Pellestrina island; started in 1853 and were completed in 1856.
The object of the northern breakwater was to keep the coastal current at bay and trap the sand it carried. That of the southern one, was to channel the receding low tide water to make the inlet deeper; through the force of the exit current.
A number of poets and writers in the late 18th and 19th centuries, wrote about the Lido, making it an attractive destination for the European elites, undertaking fashionable journeys throughout Italy.
In 1786, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet and scientist, visited Lido and wrote about his experience there in this book about his journey in Italy. Lord Byron spent five years (1816-21) in Venice and liked to ride his horses at Lido, from a hut he rented at Alberoni. In 1818, he was visited by Percy Bysshe Shelley and the two spent a couple of days at the Lido. Shelley wrote a poem about this. Since Byron was a celebrity, this attracted tourists who hoped to meet the poet or get a glimpse of him at the Lido. In 1830, James Fenimore Cooper, the author of “The Last of the Mohicans“, visited and described Lido and used Venice as the background for his novel “The Bravo“. In 1841, John Ruskin the art critic who wrote about Venice and her art; also wrote about Lido. Other people who visited Lido and described it were: the French poet Theophile Gautier in 1850, Herman Melville, the American novelist and poet in 1857 and Hyppolyte Taine, the French critic and historian in 1864. Henry James first arrived in Venice in 1869 and visited the Lido 14 times. He wrote about Venice in some of his novels and one of them was set in Venice. The British poet and playwright Robert Browning, went to the Lido in 1888 and died in Venice, nearly two months later.
The therapeutic or curative value of sea bathing. Frederick William, the Duke of Brunswick (1771-1815) bought a plot of land at Lido, intending it to have his holiday home.
From 1879, Queen Margherita of Savoy took her sickly son Victor Emmanuel III, the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Italy on holiday at Lido; staying at the sea bathing facility of La Favorita. A royal chalet was arranged for her, as in those days there was the belief that sea bathing had a curative or therapeutic value.
Tommaso Rima, a doctor at Venice’s hospital, believed that bathing in the lagoon had therapeutic benefits for nervous illnesses, scrofulosis, rickets and skin disorders. In 1833, he set up a floating bathing facility at Punta della Dogana, on the southern end of the Grand Canal. It consisted of two big rafts, which created a pool with a grate at the bottom and which could be reassembled in the summer. There was a café and one could sunbathe.
The idea of bathing therapy caught on. Gondolas were adapted for the purpose and inns set up pools with water drawn for the nearby canals, which was warmed up. The idea was that this kind of bathing in the Venetian winter, was particularly therapeutic.
The Lido’s potential for tourism did not go unnoticed. In 1852, there was a proposal to set up two spas, one on the lagoon shore and one on the sea shore; however, it was then thought that the lagoon water was less pure.
In 1855, De la Hante, a Frenchman, set up a bathing resort in the La Favorita area, which was named after the villa of the archduke Maximillian of Austria (1832-1867) the brother of the emperor who was in charge of the Austrian dominions in northern Italy (1815–59) and who spent some time in Venice. In 1872, De la Hante bought the archduke’s villa to convert it into a restaurant, café, casino and 70 rooms for an exclusive beach resort. However, he then sold it to the Lido Bathing Resort Society.
In 1857, Giovanni Busetto, also opened a seaside resort. This consisted of wooden cabins on pilings over the beach, with a common central area and two wings with 15 small rooms each. Separate cabins for the lower classes were planned. It was demolished by the Austrians in 1859, due to the Second Italian War of Independence against Austrian domination in northern Italy.
In 1867, after Venice became part of Italy, the resort was reopened and expanded; but was destroyed by a storm surge. It was reopened and expanded again in 1870. From 1867 to 1871, the number of bathers increased from 30 to 60 thousand.
In 1857, a summer shuttle service to and from Venice was set up. It consisted of large boats with four oarsmen which could carry 16 passengers. In 1858, the road from the church of Santa Maria Elisabetta, which was by the landing stage on the lagoon coast and led to the seacoast; was widened and made suitable for vehicle traffic.
It eventually came to be called Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta (or just Gran Viale). It was widened again in 1888 and a horse-drawn omnibus service started; taking tourists to the beach along the Gran Viale.
In the same year the military steamship “Alnoch”, which could carry up to 200 passengers; was made available for linking Lido with Venice during the tourist season, from 6 am to 9 pm. This was then extended to 4 am to 11 pm.
In 1872, a group of entrepreneurs set up the Società Civile dei Bagni di Lido (the Lido Bathing Resort Society). Its aim was to boost Lido’s tourism potential. It bought the La Favorita villa and reduced the number of its room to six, to be used by Queen Margaret.
A large terrace which overlooked the sea was built. It could host 1500 people and had salons, café-restaurants, reading rooms and ballrooms, a telegraph and post office, medical assistance, a chemist and life guards with special lookout posts and boats. The group also wanted to promote sea bathing as a leisure activity. as well as a therapeutic one. This idea was expounded by Paolo Mantegazza, a doctor who wrote about beaches and the sea as collective salons; where people could rest and have fun.
Urban development. The group planned more resorts and the urban development of the area between the landing stage of the lagoon side and the beach. This area came to be called Santa Maria Elisabetta. The project involved substantial land improvements and drainage for the island, which was still largely rural and had areas of bog land and scattered dunes.
A water drainage and sewer system were developed. The urbanisation was to have hospitality and entertainment facilities, residential areas, roads, gardens, woods, restaurants and cafes. Villas for wealthy bathers were built in Liberty style, the Italian version of Art Nouveau. The number of bathers increased from 60,000 in 1871, to 80,000 in 1872, to 160,000 in 1883. The number of small rooms for bathers increased to 600. They were equipped with facilities for seawater therapy, with the spraying of rarefied water with compressed air.
The birth of the Venetian waterbus. In 1873, a steam navigation company was established. This was the birth of the Venetian waterbus; the service for the transport of people around the lagoon.
It used steamboats which were smaller than the military ones, which had been used and thus allowed more frequent journeys. With regard to Lido, compared to oar boats, it shortened the time needed to reach Santa Maria Elisabetta from San Zaccaria (near St Mark’s Square) dramatically; from one hour to ten minutes. In 1882, saw the introduction of a regular time table with services every half an hour between 6 am and 12 pm.
In 1898, the Municipality of Venice took over the Grand Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta and widened it to 17 metres, to allow for a single-track horse-drawn tramway. In 1899, The Bathing Resort Society, introduced the tramway service; replacing the omnibus.
Extending the resort facilities to the lower classes. In 1885, a low-cost bathing resort for the lower classes, with 150 small rooms was established. Over the next few years, the bathing resort was expanded again and an electricity power plant was built.
The first beach huts were installed for bathing and for “air, sunlight and sand” therapy; which was popular among families. This development required the construction of a seafront boulevard.
Above: “Bathers on the Lido” by Leon Bakt
Further urbanisation took place and more villas were built. In 1889, an electric tramway line along the Gran Viale was introduced and from 1892 the Gran Viale had electric lighting during the tourist season. The number of tourists increased from 80,000 in 1872, to 160,000 in 1883.
The “Ospizio Marino” (Sea Nursing Home) opened in 1870. It was a hospital for poor children who suffered from scrofulosis, which affected especially children from deprived backgrounds; who needed heliotherapy. The hospital had initially 200 beds, that was expanded to 500 beds in 1873.
After the opening of the Excelsior Hotel in 1908, it was planned to move the hospital elsewhere to make more room next to the hotel; which took place in the 1920’s.
Fixing the sand accumulation. The lido inlet had not used for navigation since 1724, because this was prevented by frequent sand accumulation.
In 1866, the engineer Pietro Paleocapa, submitted a plan to build two breakwaters to reopen the inlet; one on its northern shore (Punta Sabbioni) and the other on its southern shore (San Nicolò). They were to be 3.5 km and 2.85 km long respectively, extend in the direction of the Scirocco wind, give the inlet a width of 1 km and reach a depth of 8 m.
In 1870, studies showed that similar works on the Malamocco inlet, had been effective in preventing sand accumulation and that the sand was stopped by the northern breakwater, where it accumulated. The project was approved in 1871 and work started in 1882. The San Nicolò breakwater was the first that was built. The works on both were completed in 1910, together with the construction of a 26 m high lighthouse at Punta Sabbioni.
More entertainment. A theatre (Nuovo Teatro del Lido) with 600 seat capacity, opened in 1892. A velodrome was opened in 1894, but cycling competitions were ended in 1896, due to high running costs. In 1911, it hosted period costume equestrian tournament, which attracted a big crowd.
Above: Immaculate private beach and facilities, with wonderful villas and apartments behind.
20TH CENTURY DEVELOPMENTS.
Further expansion and urbanisation. Expansion of the bathing resorts and the urbanisation of the Santa Maria Elisabetta area continued.
From 1900 to 1920, some 50 villas were built. In 1904, a horse-riding school was established, that over the decades; held several international contests and two world cups. The planning for a boulevard to connect Piazzale Santa Maria Elisabetta to San Nicolo, started in 1905. An aquarium was opened next to the theatre in 1909; but both were later demolished.
Left: La Casa “Licia“, in Liberty style. Right: La villa “Lombardi“.
The age of Grand Hotels. Lido also became an island of grand hotels. The Grand Hotel Lido, in Piazzale Santa Maria Elisabetta; the square in front of the landing stage, was opened in 1900. It was demolished in the 1970’s.
In the same year, the famous Grand Hotel des Bains was opened. The Hungaria Palace Hotel, later called the Grand Hotel Ausonia & Hungaria (Above right); opened in 1907. It had 82 rooms furnished by Eugenio Quarti, a famous Milan furniture maker. A majolica mosaic with Renaissance motifs interpreted in liberty style, was installed on its facade between 1914 and 1916 and made the hotel very distinctive. The Hotel Palace Excelsior (Above left), opened in 1908.
In 1905, Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta was widened again to 27 metres; to accommodate two tracks for an electric tramway.
The era of flying. In 1911, in an era when flying was new; a show of short flights which landed on the beach of the Hotel Excelsior was organised. Two flights from Venice to this beach, were arranged later in the year; that attracted many people who paid to get on the terrace of the hotel. There lottery draw’s prize, was a tour on the plane. More such flights were then organised, that brought attention to the hotel.
In 1914, the owner of the Excelsior opened a fun fair, which was extremely successful. However, it was dismantled the next year because of WW I. Another one was opened in 1932, but it suffered the same fate because of WW II.
In 1919, work started on a staircase to a votive temple (later built between 1925 and 1928), dedicated to the Madonna of Victory as a remembrance to the fallen soldiers of WW I. The bodies of 3700 soldiers are kept here.
In the 1920’s, seaplanes became the next technological advance. An international competition, the “Schneider International Cup”; was held at the Lido in 1920, 1921 and 1927 and proved extremely popular.
A new hospital. In 1919, it was decided that the “Ospizio Marino” was to remain open permanently and not just in the summer. Between 1922 and 1926, a new site for the hospital was built in the La Favorita area. It was now opened to adults as well.
The centre for rehabilitation for children with rickets, merged with this hospital in 1924.
The Ospizio developed balneotherapy (bathing therapy), psammotherapy (hot sand baths) and sun therapy. Later In 1933, it was renamed “Ospedale al Mare” (Hospital at the Sea). It became a hospital of specialised excellence and the foremost thalassotherapy centre (the use of seawater for therapy) in Italy. In 1933, a church was opened in this complex.
The ”bagno popolare”. In 1920 the Grand Hotel Company, built a low-cost bathing resort and gave the municipality a large square to create a public playground. In 1923, another “bagno popolare” was established, next to the Ospizio Marino.
The Nicelli airport, was developed during WW I for the defence of Venice (below left – note the San Nicolo church and monastery complex at top right of landing strip). In 1926, it was converted to civilian use, with the construction of a terminal.
The first flight was to Vienna and carried four passengers. By 1931, there were six routes and in 1935, a second terminal was built. By1939, there were 23,285 passengers.
The major European airlines operated here and the airport was the second most important one in Italy, after Rome. During WW II, much of its equipment was confiscated by the Germans, who also tried to destroy it; but operations resumed after the war.
Venice Marco Polo Airport. However, with the advent of bigger jet planes; the runway became too short. In 1961, the new Venice Marco Polo Airport was opened. The Nicelli airport, only handled small private planes and hosted a school for pilots and parachutists. In 1994, the municipality of Venice set up a management firm, to restore the airport and relaunch economic activity in the area.
The golf course. In 1930, the golf course at Alberoni was inaugurated. It was reported that Henry Ford had been disappointed, that Lido did not have a golf course. The area chosen, was at the southern end of the island, which had sand dunes (sand was good for drainage), trees and a former military fort and stables. Originally having 9 holes; it was extended to 18 holes in 1951. The 6 km long course, hosted Italian opens in 1955, 1960 and 1974.
Over the 15th-16th of June 1934, Hitler went to Venice to meet Mussolini. He stayed at the Grand Hotel in Venice and Mussolini stayed at the Grand Hotel Excelsior. The two men met at the golf club at Alberoni.
The casino. Venice was the first city in the world to have a publicly owned and regulated casino; that opened in 1638. However, it was closed in 1774. In 1938, the casino (Palazzo del Casinò) at Lido was opened. This marked the return of legal gambling in Venice. It became a summer casino in 1946, when a winter venue was opened in Venice; in what is now Ca’ Vendramin Calergi and formerly the last residence of Richard Wagner, who died there. The Palazzo del Casinò at Lido was closed in the 1990’s, when a new casino was opened at Ca’ Noghera on the mainland.
Motor racing, cycling and skating. In 1946 and 1947, a motor race was held at the Lido circuit to relaunch tourism. Lido hosted the road cycling world championship in 1952 and track cycling world championship in 1962. In the latter year, the ice rink was opened. Prior to that, the wealthy skated at an inner terrace of the Excelsior Hotel, whilst others skated at a small garden by the casino.
Please see my other posts in the series “Islands of the Lagoon”: HERE
Lido di Venezia: Part 2 Lido di Venezia: Part 2 Lido di Venezia: Part 2
Lido di Venezia: Part 2 Lido di Venezia: Part 2 Lido di Venezia: Part 2
Lido di Venezia: Part 2 Lido di Venezia: Part 2 Lido di Venezia: Part 2
Lido di Venezia: Part 2 Lido di Venezia: Part 2 Lido di Venezia: Part 2