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Mestre is a borough of the commune of Venice on the mainland opposite the historical island city in the region of Veneto, Italy
Venice, Though Not As You Know It
During my solo Interrail tour of Europe, I stopped off in Mestre for a few days. On the outskirts of the Venice the world knows, Mestre offers a slower pace.
Mestre is a less expensive option to explore Venice. Having used my 3-month Interrail pass to get to Stazione di Venezia Mestre, I then only needed to pay £1.50 each way for the bus to take me in or out of Venice.
Jumping off the train, I made my way to Piazza Erminio Ferretto. From the Art Deco style cinema building to the modern art that is the water fountain, I was intrigued by the contrasts. I spent hours trailing round the streets, simply stopping for a coffee or a beer when the heat got too much. The whole area was quiet, and the shops offered a welcome escape with next to no customers, attentive staff, and aircon.
One night was spent in Venice View Guesthouse, located in Marghera. Not much to shout about, it offered a roof over my head after a long walk. Very basic accommodation with a shared bathroom, just £23, I was glad I wasn’t here long. Clean, and sufficient for what I needed, it was only somewhere to sleep.
However, I did find a decent, cheap pizza just up the road in Il Pizzaiolo Magico. They were surprised to see a foreigner but more surprised when I understood and responded in Italian! Well wishes exchanged, they gave me a beer and I went back to my room to devour my meal.
The next hotel I stayed at was Hotel Vidale which cost £24. This is one hotel I never wish to return to, it felt like a prison cell (see my rather glamourous picture, below).
The shared bathroom was grimy, the fan just circulated hot air, and there was nowhere to go except my tiny room. A sweatbox that didn't emulate a sauna, I was only too happy to leave.
Being stopped by armed police on the doorstep only added to my discomfort. After being held and questioned for longer than I care to remember, they finally let me go. I don’t know how many times they can ask me the same questions, but it did start to worry me as they weren’t loosening their grip on my arm at all!
The only bonus to Hotel Vidale, was the amazing triple fish dish in the Hostaria Vite Rossa next door. The waiter was a gentleman, he explained the dishes to me, took care to make sure my order was placed before they closed the kitchen 10 minutes later, and gave me the utmost attention as the only solo diner. I couldn’t fault the place; I was treated like a queen.
One of my favourite meals came from Tasty Poke who made me the most incredible ginger salmon salad mix. Chatting with the manager, we were discussing languages and learning, which resulted in a discussion about the name of beansprouts. It was quite amusing to see I couldn’t remember the English name for them.
With company joining me for a couple of days whilst in Mestre, there was a detour to Jesolo. Involving a pitstop in Bergamo, the 5-hour car journey revolved around food. Sadly, I have no pictures from Jesolo because I was enjoying myself far too much! But, I have to make a point of mentioning the restaurant we went to; Il Granso Di Gigi. Presented with a mountain of delicious seafood, and a great bottle of red wine, we rolled out of there with eyes bigger than our bellies.
Hotel Margherita was our chosen accommodation, it offered a tasty continental style buffet breakfast, and the rooms were spotless. Lido di Jesolo is on the doorstep; it really was an amazing mini-break within my trip. Seaside break completed, I returned to Mestre solo.
Continuing With Mestre
Anyway, moving on from my detour, here are some additional places of interest that I failed to get pictures of;
• Torre dell'Orologio
• M9 - Museo del '900
• Teatro Toniolo
• Duomo di San Lorenzo Martire
• Chiesa Ortodossa della Natività della Madre di Dio
• Remains of a tower (Resti di una Torricella del Castelnuovo)
• And if you like your football - Venezia FC Store | M9
Whether you want a pretty town with gorgeous architecture or a cheaper stop-off to pop into Venice, consider Mestre.
With cute streets, pretty shops, and great restaurants, Mestre ticks the boxes, at least around Piazza Erminio Ferretto. It is also good base, whether driving or using public transport.
I’d advise keeping your wits about you as there were pickpockets operating in the vicinity. I had a dodgy encounter with a persistent male outside the Soul Kitchen Café. He was rather annoyed I saw straight through his attempts and then tried to intimidate me. Once away from the train station, I felt more comfortable walking alone and thoroughly enjoyed my stay.
When travelling, I walk everywhere but I found that some streets here had gangs of men congregating. I U-turned whenever I saw these and made a mental note of which areas to avoid. Mestre was one place I didn’t venture out in the dark whilst alone.
Even solo, I would still go back. A cheap alternative to staying on the island, I felt this was a good budget stop.