Like school kids!

After a lot of communication, I finally wore Gianluca down, and he agreed to an out-of-season topa tour. Thank you to Peter and Lou, who told us about this on a travel forum.

A topa is a working boat in Venice, the type you’ll see doing the hard stuff, transporting goods of all descriptions around the canals that are the streets and alleys of Venice.

Here are some images of Gianluca.

Getting us loaded onto the topa

Getting us loaded onto the topa at the San Stefano vaporetto stop


Gianluca and one of the passengers

Gianluca and one of the passengers (Mike, who lives in Venice with his wife, Karen)

This Carabiniere featured in our trip, but I’m sworn to silence about the details, to protect the innocent!

Thanks for the use of photo, Susie

This is the basic route we followed, during the 2 hours (plus) trip.


Here areΒ some photos of the views we would never have seen when exploring the city on foot.

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And, then, the lovely surprise of the trip. The tide level co-operated and we went right under Chiesa San Stefano. Gianluca and I hadn’t said anything, just in case we couldn’t do it. Now, the boatload of adults really transformed into happy, laughing school kids. (Except for one, who was a tad claustrophobic.)


Here we go!

Looking up at the church

Looking up at the church

Another big underpass in front of us

Another big underpass in front of us

Heck, it's dark in here

Heck, it’s dark in here

Now, looking back at the church

Now, looking back at the church

To my intrepid companions Karen and Mike, Susie and Mark, Christy, Linda and Mary, thanks for being such enthusiastic travellers. Here’s to the next topa trip!

To Gianluca, thank you for being such a good-natured, patient, helpful boat pilot.

We truly enjoyed this excursion to the hilt, and we’re grateful that our parents signed the permission slip!



Filed under Venice

43 responses to “Like school kids!

  1. Son of Sharecroppers

    Very cool! I am so envious!


  2. Andante

    What a magnificent thing to have done. Back now from Venice ( we only overlapped a day or so with you) we really wish we could have been there in that party. It looks like a wonderful route through those waterways, and a splendid thing to have done. We’ve always had a soft spot for those little workboats going around. Yvonne: why didn’t we know about trips like that? (probably because we’d not read any earlier posts by you on the subject) We are really sad we missed out on such a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing the photos with us, it’s nearly as good as being there. Perhaps next time we get there we might be able to do something like that.


    • I first read about this trip on TripAdvisor, then Peter wrote about it and that sealed the deal. You would have been welcome in the party, but Gianluca would have towed you behind in a dinghy, perhaps!

      When are you coming back?


  3. Gail Isles

    We did this in September (after reading the recommendation in Peter’s blog!) and loved it too. The tide was high and we had to crouch on the floor at the front of the boat to be able to get under one of the bridges. Great fun! I am enjoying your photos and stories- love Venice and can’t wait to return one day.


  4. Oh wow! I was just re-reading Secret Venice and wondering how to get under the church. I am so glad for you that you had the chance, and that the tides played ball! And thank you for sharing such great photos…I am gobbling up Venice vicariously through your blog…! A presto!


  5. What a wonderful trip You offered to us thru Your beautiful photos.


  6. Rob C

    Wow, that looks so incredible! We are exceedingly jealous.
    Is that Karen wrapped up like a pre-revolutionary Russian princess?



  7. Hi Yvonne πŸ˜€ What a lovely boat trip post. I did enjoy the ride with you.
    Uh oh !! Carabiniere !! What did you do ? Pull out the plug and all the canals drained or you were caught water skiing at 5kph ? Tell me !! πŸ˜€ hehe
    Have a lovely weekend. Ralph xox πŸ˜€


  8. Hi, Liz I think some folks have been having problems with WordPress, for some reason.

    How’s the weather in your part of the world? It’s been foggy, but not too cool here.


    • Dear Yvonne,
      Thanks for your reply!

      The weather is really mild here, which is good (for me, that is) because I don’t think I could handle snow, cold and the other usual features of January weather. But as we all know, the weather has been doing strange things worldwide, these past 12 months: they even had snow on Table Mountain (first time in living memory) instead of the usual cloud cover, called “the tablecloth” by local residents..

      Regarding the earlier post, I think someone else may have been posting something at the same time, which could have caused it but am not completely sure of that.
      Woke up in the early hours, so time to say good night (or good morning?)
      Ciao, Liz


  9. I thought I had posted but it didn’t work.
    It must have been a really amazing boatride.

    It’s always good to hear about things that are a bit different — and the two hours must have given you a really different perspective of the city’s waterways. Some of those bridges looked very low … It reminded me a little of the trips you did not long ago back in Australia.

    First day back at work, so am off for an early night.

    Wish you a nice weekend and look forward to hearing what you are up to in Venice..

    Ciao from Vienna,


  10. Livia

    fantastic tour you had. Shall I be envy a bit? I hardly wait to return and participate such a tour.
    CIao Carissima, Livia


  11. I’ll be doing that again, for sure!


  12. steven

    I’ve heard unconfirmed rumors, Yvonne, that the carabinieri were responding to complaints by people who’d been “mooned” by a rowdy water-borne group, but I trust you didn’t carry the class trip atmosphere that far. It must have been an especially atmospheric trip with the fog! What a great thing to do (and photograph)!


  13. WOW! What a cool experience!!!


  14. JoanneH

    What a great thing to be able to do I would have loved it. Lucky you.


  15. Maryk

    It was a truly memorable thing to do! Thanks Yvonne for herding us so beautifully.


  16. Pat

    The photos were great! What an experience…


  17. Lynda

    What an incredible trip that must have been – your photos are amazing!


  18. What a fun thing to do!


  19. Thanks Y for organizing this! I loved every moment of it!

    Grazie Cara (while sitting in Zurich airport)


  20. julie

    What a fantastic trip Yvonne, loved the photos, specially going under San Stefano Church, reminded me of a fairground ride. When does he start the in season tours ?


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