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  • Joanne Herd

A Journey Through Chioggia: Embracing the Charm of Italy's “Little Venice”

Updated December 6, 2023

Everyone's heard of Venice, but are you familiar with Chioggia or "Little Venice"?


With charming canals winding through town, colorful houses, and a more relaxed (as in far fewer tourists!) historic center, Chioggia is much more than just a smaller version of its more famous neighbor.


Chioggia may be less well-known, but it's bursting with character and offers a unique experience that will leave a lasting impression.


If you're seeking an authentic adventure a bit further off the beaten path, Chioggia is your ticket to Italian bliss. With a rich history, lively culture, and a mouthwatering food scene, this enchanting town is waiting to be explored.


Things to do in Chioggia, Italy


It's easy to feel like time stands still in Chioggia, allowing you to immerse yourself in its genuine charm and embrace a slower pace.


Whether you wander the canalside landscape, explore the festivals and landmarks, or sample the freshest seafood from the local fish market, there's no shortage of things to do.

A bridge over canals on a sunny, blue-sky day. Fishing boats float on the calm waters and a church tower rises in the background.
The canals of Chioggia, Italy

Let's start by getting to know this charming old town a bit better. Located in northern Italy's Veneto region, on the southern edge of the Venetian Lagoon, Chioggia is older than Venice and was founded in the 2nd century BC.


It once thrived as the "salt capital of the Mediterranean" before becoming renowned for its thriving fishing industry. Its ancient fishing port, serving as a gateway for generations of fishermen, continues to host vibrant fish markets, including the expansive Mercato Itico.


With stunning turquoise waters and a Mediterranean climate, Chioggia boasts a diverse ecosystem, showcasing an ever-changing array of wildlife and vegetation.

So what is there to do in Chioggia? Let's take a look.


Explore the canals and bridges

A canal with boats at sunrise, with a church tower in the background. The serene colors and warm light lend to a serene scene.
The beautiful canals of Chioggia

Like in neighboring Venice, the canals and bridges form the heart and soul of Chioggia. Lined by vibrantly painted houses, the kaleidoscope of colors reflect in the canals below.


The best way to experience the canals and bridges is to lace up your walking shoes and take a leisurely stroll along the canalside promenades. Watch the boats float by as locals go about their daily lives.


Feel free to lose yourself in the many streets and canalside walks. You never know what hidden treasures and surprises may be waiting around the corner.


While you're wandering you'll probably come across an imposing archway with a lion engraved at the top. This is the Porta Garibaldi, the ancient gateway into the city dating from the 16th century.


Discover the food

Fish and seafood displayed in Italy's largest fish market in Chioggia, Italy
Italy's largest fish market in Chioggia

Chioggia is a haven for food lovers, especially if you enjoy amazingly fresh fish and seafood.


The town's reputation as a seafood paradise is well-deserved. Pulled by fishing boats fresh from the azure waters of the Venetian Lagoon and the Adriatic Sea, the seafood is nothing short of exceptional. Think succulent prawns, delicious clams, and everything in between, much of it caught or harvested just hours before.


But where can you experience the best of Chioggia's seafood? Look no further than the local fish market, a bustling hub of activity where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and see the freshest catch of the day.


Many of Chioggia's restaurants pride themselves in preparing these fresh catches in mouthwatering ways. From traditional Venetian dishes to innovative seafood creations, there's something to please every palate.


And let's recognize the other culinary treasures that Chioggia has to offer. The town's proximity to fertile agricultural land means you'll find a cornucopia of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From vibrant heirloom tomatoes to fragrant herbs, these flavors elevate every dish to new heights. Combine them with a glass of local white wine for a delicious meal you're sure to remember.


Visit the landmarks

Fishing boats sit moored along a canal in Chioggia, Italy
Fishing boats in Chioggia

Let's explore the historical landmarks that make Chioggia, Italy a captivating destination. These sites offer a glimpse into the city's rich past and are a must-visit for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.


First on our list is the lovely Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the town's Duomo that showcases beautiful architecture and rich decor. Stepping inside, take your time to appreciate the intricate details and the sense of devotion that has filled this sacred space for centuries.


Another notable landmark is the Torre dell'Orologio or the Clock Tower of St. Andrew. This towering structure houses one of the oldest working clocks in the world and stands as a symbol of Chioggia's heritage.


The clock was first recorded in a document from 1386, but due to war and conflict many 14th-century documents in the area were destroyed. So we don't know exactly when the clock was created, and England's Salisbury Cathedral competes with Chioggia for the title of "World's Oldest Clock" since theirs was also built in 1386.


As you explore Chioggia, be sure to visit the delightful Piazzetta Vigo, a charming square lined with cozy cafes and shops. It's the perfect spot to take a break, savor a gelato, and soak in the local atmosphere.


Nearby, you'll find the Ponte Vigo, or Vigo Bridge, a picturesque bridge that seems frozen in time. Pause for a moment to admire its beauty and imagine the stories it could tell from centuries past.


Head to the beach

White sand with azure waters and blue sky on Sottomarina Beach, Chioggia Italy
Sottomarina Beach

Unlike Venice, Chioggia has beautiful sandy shores surrounding it. Grab your sunscreen and towel and head out to the beach!


One of the most popular spots is Sottomarina beach, which beckons with warm sand and clear water. Here, you'll discover a relaxed seaside atmosphere, perfect for unwinding and soaking up the sun's warm embrace.


Lounge on a beach chair at one of the many beach clubs, take a leisurely stroll along the seafront, or spend the day on or under the water while sailing, snorkeling, or scuba diving.


Whether you're a beach lover or simply seeking a delightful escape from the bustling city life, if you visit in the summer you'll want to leave some time for the Italian beach experience. So pack your beach essentials, embrace the coastal charm, and create unforgettable memories as you soak up the beauty of Chioggia's sandy shores.


Experience the local festivals

Fishing huts on stilts extend over the ocean outside of Chioggia, Italy
Fishing huts on stilts outside Chioggia

Now, let's dive into the vibrant tapestry of local festivities that grace the streets of Chioggia throughout the year. From lively celebrations to cultural events, this little Venice has something special in store for every traveler seeking a taste of its authentic charm.


One event seafood enthusiasts and festival lovers should make a point to visit is the famous Sagra del Pesce di Chioggia or the Fish Festival of Chioggia. Held annually for 10 days in July, this gastronomic extravaganza celebrates the sea's bounty and the region's rich fishing heritage.


Local fishermen showcase their catch of the day, including the delectable fish and shellfish that Chioggia is renowned for. From succulent branzino to plump shrimp and tender calamari, the options are abundant and oh-so-tempting.


Join the locals and visitors as they gather around long communal tables, eagerly awaiting their turn to savor the flavors of the sea. Indulge in a hearty plate of freshly fried fish, accompanied by crispy fries and a generous squeeze of lemon. Engage in lively conversations with fellow festival-goers, exchanging stories and laughter as you bond over your love for seafood.


In addition to the culinary delights, the Sagra del Pesce offers a lively ambiance filled with music and live entertainment. The vibrant energy is infectious, and you'll be caught up in the festive spirit.


Another notable event that captures the essence of Chioggia's spirit is the Palio della Marciliana. This medieval festival recreates the 1379 war against Genoa, making it a must-see for anyone who enjoys medieval history.


Attend historic banquets, have a drink at one of the many taverns, and watch the historic crossbow competition, which still follows the rules set up in 1414. Which district will you root for in the competition?


How to get to Chioggia

The Hotel Grande Italia, located right on the Venetian Lagoon in Chioggia, Italy
The Hotel Grande Italia, located right on the Venetian Lagoon

The easiest way to get to Chioggia from Venice is by water taxi or transfer. You can also use public transportation, with a combination of boat, bus and ferry. Another option is to rent a car and combine Chioggia with a trip to other towns in northern Italy, either starting or ending in Venice.


While you can go to Chioggia as a day trip, I recommend staying overnight to have enough time to explore the town.


For an overnight stay consider the Hotel Grande Italia in Piazzetta Vigo. It's in a prime location in the pedestrian area of the city and boasts views over the Venetian lagoon.


The bottom line


From enchanting canals and vibrant bridges to historical landmarks and local festivities, Chioggia is a hidden gem in Italy's travel landscape. Whether you're drawn to its picturesque streets, the flavors of its seafood delicacies, or the tranquility of its beaches, Chioggia offers a unique experience that will leave a lasting impression.


Feeling inspired? Check out our other Italy travel blog posts, and our Veneto region travel posts.

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