Pellestrina: fishermen, bikes and shells decorations


Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Laura Teso

Pellestrina is an island in the Venetian lagoon. Narrow (from 23 meters to 1,2 km) and 11 km long, it’s a paradise for cyclists, since you can board a bike on the vaporetto (or rent it) and then travel freely at your own pace to discover more far than wide this less known part of the Lagoon.

Ca' Roman
Ca’ Roman

It so happened that I heard some people talking about it within a few days. And then I decided to go there myself.

Pellestrina facts

Did you know that…

  • The etymology is uncertain. Someone suggest that derives from pelle strana (strange skin), for the colour of the inhabitants, fishermen forced to work all day under the sun on the boats.
  • All the residential areas went completely destroyed during the War of Chioggia (end of 1300). After that, doge Andre Contarini decided to send there four families: Vianello, Busetto, Scarpa and Zennaro. They gave the name to the four neighbourhood: Vianelli, Busetti, Scarpa and Zennari. These are still the most common surnames in the island.
  • That white wall you spot along the whole island is a part of the Murazzi, a dam in Istria stone, built in 1700s by the Republic of Venice to defend the lagoon’s banks from the erosion of the sea.
  • The island is also famous for the merletto, the lace, as Burano is. And, as Burano, its houses are colourful. But the atmosphere is not touristy at all, and slightly nostalgic, I dare say. In a good way, if you’re introspective like I am.

Trip fail

Our trip was a partial fail though.

Ideal scenario:

The ideal scenario in my mind was: to rent two bikes, go there by boat, cross the island by bike, bathe and then have dinner at a wonderful restaurant with a lovely panoramic terrace.


It was June 2, Republic Day in Italy. All the bikes were already gone. Matteo and I decided to go anyway. We took the vaporetto number 11 from Chioggia and went off at the first stop, in Ca’ Roman, where there’s a natural reserve, a kiosk and a tourist village. Plus a free beach. Mi raccomando, follow the path uphill. Then, after a hundred meters or less, turn left and you’ll get to the beach. Nothing special but at least not as crowded as the beaches on the mainland.

We bathed first, and then we took the vaporetto again to reach the centre of the island and have dinner. Unfortunately the restaurant our friend recommended us was completely booked already (at 6 pm).

Peaceful island

We wandered taking pictures and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.

I spotted two or three grills here and there outside the houses. That’s because people there often grill fresh fish for dinner. Pity we couldn’t gatecrash at a family dinner. 😉

Three kids were playing football in the churchyard. One of them failed a passage and so the other two decided a suitable penalty: jump into the water, at 5 meters from their football field. So he run towards the sea, in a few seconds he was in. And the other two followed him immediately. I never saw kids so free and so close to nature like those in my area. Lucky them!

Another interesting thing I spotted were the houses decorations made with shells. How lovely!

Gelateria for sale

At a stone’s throw from there, a sign “gelateria in affitto o in vendita” (ice cream parlour on sale or to rent) and I confess I was tempted to give up everything and start a new life there, even if I don’t know anything about gelato, other than how to eat it.

Sunset reward

In the end I just promised myself to go back in a less crowded day, rent the bike and dine in the panoramic terrace. Our day ended going back to Chioggia and having a panino, cause all the cool spots were fuly booked. Never mind. Look at the sunset we enjoyed anyway! 🙂

Sunset in Chioggia
Sunset in Chioggia

Pellestrina on the map

Comments are closed.