Padua to Dolo – 17 km (on foot, 31,969 Fit Bit steps)
Dolo to Venice – 29 km (by bus and 17,995 Fit Bit steps)
We needed to walk and the weather looked promising. We intended to follow (in reverse) the Romeo Leona, a path which connects Venice via another route in northern Italy to the Camino de Santiago, leading to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Our route out of Padua took us along a flat, easy 10K track along the Canale Piovego. The Veneto region is criss crossed by multiple canals dating back centuries. Built for transportation and irrigation, they have been a main contributor to the wealth of the Veneto. For 300 years before Napoleon arrived in 1797, Venetian families packed up and vacated the city for the summer months, floating their households on barges up the canals to summer villas. Presumably it was hot, humid and malodorous at home! We passed a number of abandoned grand villas. The imposing house and gardens of the Villa Pisani Nazionale (1774), close to Stra, was the Doge of Venice’s way of reminding everyone who was in charge, even outside the city.
While the path we were on did not appear to be signposted (the route was described online by Friends if the Camino), we did notice signs for the Cammino di Sant’Antonio and the Cammino dei Giusti del mondo. On the latter, the only information on the web is in Italian, but with google translate we learned that it leads to a garden in Padua that recognizes “righteous people” who helped others during times of genocide, not only the holocaust, which decimated the Jewish population of Venice, but also Armenia, Rwanda and Serbia. There are other such gardens in Yerevan and Sarajevo. One of the people celebrated is Gino Bartali, a racing cyclist who had won the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France between the two world wars. Under the guise of training, he carried photographs of Jews in hiding from Florence to Lucca for the creation of forged papers to enable their escape. Also, he pulled a wagon purportedly to help in his training in which he smuggled Jews from Assisi to the Swiss border.
At Stra, the Naviglio Brenta (canal) begins its journey towards the Lagoon of Venice. Unfortunately, the canal path disappeared here and we were forced to walk for several kilometres on a narrow shoulderless road on which cars passed uncomfortably close to us (sound familiar?). Stopping in Dolo for the night, after confirming that the route continues on a busy road, we decided to abandon the walk and continue on by bus to Venice.
Wildlife note: Kingfisher