The other sea approach is from Fusina, at the end of an electric-tram line from Padua. If the Chioggia scheme is too difficult, then the Fusina route should be taken, for it is simplicity itself. All that the traveller has to do is to leave the train at Padua overnight—and he will be very glad to do so, for that last five-hour lap from Milan to Venice is very trying, with all the disentanglement of registered luggage at the end of it before one can get to the hotel—and spend the next morning in exploring Padua’s own riches: Giotto’s frescoes in the Madonna dell’Arena; Mantegna’s in the Eremitani; Donatello’s altar in the church of Padua’s own sweet Saint Anthony; and so forth; and then in the afternoon take the tram for Fusina. This approach is not so attractive as that from Chioggia, but it is more quiet and fitting than the rush over the viaduct in the train. One is behaving with more propriety than that, for one is doing what, until a few poor decades ago of scientific fuss, every visitor travelling to Venice had to do: one is embarked on the most romantic of voyages: one is crossing the sea to its Queen.
This way one enters Venice by her mercantile shipping gate, where there are chimneys and factories and a vast system of electric wires. Not that the scene is not beautiful; Venice can no more fail to be beautiful, whatever she does, than a Persian kitten can; yet it does not compare with the Chioggia adventure, which not only is perfect visually, but, though brief, is long enough to create a mood of repose for the anticipatory traveller such as Venice deserves.
On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that there are many visitors who want their first impression of this city of their dreams to be abrupt; who want the transition from the rattle of the train to the peace of the gondola to be instantaneous; and these, of course, must enter Venice at the station. If, as most travellers from England do, they leave London by the 2.5 and do not break the journey, they will reach Venice a little before midnight.
But whether it is by day or by night, this first shock of Venice is not to be forgotten. To step out of the dusty, stuffy carriage, jostle one’s way through a thousand hotel porters, and be confronted by the sea washing the station steps is terrific! The sea tamed, it is true; the sea on strange visiting terms with churches and houses; but the sea none the less; and if one had the pluck to taste the water one would find it salt. There is probably no surprise to the eye more complete and alluring than this first view of the Grand Canal at the Venetian terminus.