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How did I avoid paying Venice’s new ‘entrance fee’? By joining the local Venezia FC fans | Venice holidays

How did I avoid paying Venice’s new ‘entrance fee’? By joining the local Venezia FC fans | Venice holidays

Sunday day-trippers to Venice flashing their €5 entry ticket QR code to get through the turnstiles at the city’s main access points look bemused when football supporters simply show their match tickets instead. Attending a sporting event just happens to be one of the exemptions in the opaque regulations behind what locals see as an attempt to turn their town into a living museum.

Anyone who joins the crowds of football fans making their way through the streets to the Sant’Elena neighbourhood, in the east of the city just beyond the Biennale Gardens, will discover that this city is a long way from being a museum, and that buying a ticket to watch Venezia FC affords the opportunity to enjoy a slice of local life. Where else in the world can you arrive at a football stadium by vaporetto (waterbus)? It costs just €15 to sit up in the Curva Sud stand surrounded by friendly cheering, singing Venetians, and watch a match against the backdrop of Venice’s lagoon.

For the last home game of the season, against lowly Feralpisalò from Lombardy, I jump on the vaporetto outside Venice Santa Lucia station headed for the Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo. Built in 1910, it is Italy’s second-oldest football ground, with a capacity of just 11,500. There are always plans afoot to build a modern stadium on the mainland, but for now it remains the unique venue where all of Venice – kids, mums and dads, bar staff, butchers, bank clerks and gondoliers – forget about the daily invasion of tourists and come together to support the local team. And that team is verging on promotion to the giddy heights of Serie A under American owners who have realised the global potential of a Venice football team.

The Penzo stadium is in the east of Venice, heading towards the Lido

Sitting next to me on the vaporetto, wearing the team’s distinctive green, orange and black, are local builder Thomas Blascovich and his son Nicolas. “Though I was born on the mainland, my parents come from Venice itself and I attended matches with my papà from the age of seven,” says Thomas. “I consider myself Venetian even though I live on the terraferma. And, though it may sound strange, the moment the bus crosses the Ponte della Libertà and I get on the vaporetto, well, I feel I am at home again.”

With tickets to the match almost sold out, I grab a seat early, high up in the rickety Curva Sud, home of the most…

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