Jesolo (Lido di Jesolo)
Lido di Jesolo is a purpose-built beach resort in north-east Italy, on the Adriatic Sea close to Venice. Its ten miles of sandy beach (made of yellow Dolomite sand), rows of sunbeds and nighttime entertainment attract thousands of holidaymakers every summer. Many Venetians and Paduans have second homes here. They opt to spend their summer vacations here because of the variety of laid-back beaches, the shopping (all along Via Bafile), and excellent seafood restaurants. Existence here feels very sheltered: clean, well-organized and safe. There are first-aid points and lifeguards, sunbeds and showers, snack-bars and ice-cream shops, mini-golf, and climbing frames. Jesolo used to be known for its rowdy nightlife but now there are only a few clubs left like Vanilla (a younger dance crowd) and Marina Club (adults thirty-five years and older hang here). Lately, a lot of Germans and Russians have decided to make a pit stop in Jesolo, so don’t be surprised to find some English and German pubs along restaurant row. After dinner, the main city center promenade fills with couples and families taking long strolls and shopping until 11ish.
Just an hour boat ride from Venice (from the Fondamenta Nove waterbus stop), Jesolo is just past Torcello and Burello Islands. You basically have to cross the whole lagoon and get dropped off at the Punta Sabbioni stop (just a few minutes walk to the best sandy beach), which has the nicest beach on Jesolo Island. Don’t expect Caribbean waters, but the water is more transparent than you’ll find on Venice’s Lido Island and there is a large free public beach area to take advantage of. It’s a more natural beach feel than the rest of the resort-like beaches closer to the city center. Punta Sabbioni beach also has a cafe where you can order hamburgers, sandwiches, and soft drinks right on the beach. It’s just before the lighthouse and they have bathroom facilities. Parasols and sunbeds cost from €13 to €18 a day, but after 2pm prices usually lower and in front of most of these areas the beach is free to lay on with your beach towel as long as you’re in front of rope that divides the paying area from the public section.
Jesolo has numerous apartments and hotels, but the most economical lodging is at their campgrounds. Jesolo has over thirty campgrounds to choose from, which are conveniently located along the beach!
An hour ride by waterbus, line 12 from Fondamenta Nove is probably the most scenic and direct way, but it will leave you near Jesolo’s most natural beach, Punta Sabbioni. If you want to reach the city center of Jesolo (Piazza Mazzini), there is an ATVO bus from Piazzale Roma or Marco Polo airport, which takes about an hour (with no traffic). Both buses and boats run about every half hour.
Jesolo’s Piazza Mazzini from Punta Sabbioni takes about twenty minutes but many tourists bike around the island. I recommend taking the bus if you don’t have a bike or car, since taxis cost about €15 for a five minute ride.
While there are plenty of pizza bars, cafes and a plethora of restaurants to choose from all over the strip of island, here are some local dishes to look out for: il baccala in tocio (cod in red sauce), moeche (soft-shelled crabs), le masenete (crabs boiled and seasoned with parsley and garlic) and pevarasse (Venetian lagoon clams). Jesolo has many good restaurants, but there are plenty of touristic ones as well, however, I have jotted down a few that I always go to after a long day of sun and swimming.
$$$ €31–50 (US$45 to $72)
$$$$ over €50 ($73 and up)
$$$$ Moby Dick – (Seafood) – I’ve met locals that have eaten here for over thirty years and drive over an hour and a half to indulge on chef Luciano Guiotto’s seafood creations. The specialty dishes include the ornate raw seafood appetizer, which changes everyday depending on what he buys from the fish market. Get ready to taste the unique pairings such as sea bass with orange zest or sea bream with pomegranate bits and then move on to a large bowl of the family secret recipe, seafood soup. Sip on a cool bottle of wine and an average meal for two can easily get over the $150 mark, but well worth the splurge. Location: Via V. Monti 4 (near Piazza Marina). Tel: +39 0421 972170. Open from 12pm to 2:30pm and 7:30pm to midnight. Closed Tuesdays.
$$$$ Tortuga – (Seafood/Outside Seating) – While they have a nice wooden veranda full of tables and an indoor dining room, there isn’t a view of the beach, but the view of the splendid dishes will take your breath away. Giulio, the Jesolo-born chef, and his Austrian wife are a great match mixing Austrian efficiency with Venetian charm. The portions are plentiful and some off-the-menu items to ask for are their seafood appetizer dish, homemade ravioli filled with sea bream and the sea bream cooked in salt. The rustic but refined atmosphere is very typical but tough to find in the midst of modern and touristic restaurants along the beach, so you’ll have to take a quick taxi ride to eat there. Location: Piazza Tommaseo, 15. Tel: +39 0421 93319. Open from 12pm to 2pm and 7pm to 10:30pm daily except Monday evenings and Tuesdays. They are completely closed from November to mid-January.
$$$ Giardino – (Seafood/Outside Seating) – Right on the main shopping promenade in Jesolo’s city center, you will come across a great foodie find. The spectacular service begins at the steps of their wooden front porch with their welcoming staff and continues on until you finish your after-dinner hookah. The restaurant has about five different dining areas which you can choose from. They have a back garden that is delightful but depending on the weather, it might be cooler in one of their raised tables in the semi-open dining room. Dimitri, Gena and Roberta are the owners, who you may spot working side by side with their staff just to make sure your dining experience is top notch. While all their dishes are fresh and tasty, I went back two nights in a row for their lobster linguini, which is the best I’ve had in all my travels. Location: Via Bafile 7. Tel: +39 0421 381827. Open from 5pm to 12:30am Closed November and December.