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Mestre is the gateway to the mainland. Increasingly large numbers of visitors are opting to stay in Mestre, for it is close to the historic centre of Venice, and yet within easy reach of mainland beauty spots. After leaving the industrial and business district of Marghera behind you, and passing the Villa Malcontenta, you will find yourself on the Strada Romeo (so named because it was once on the route taken by pilgrims travelling to Rome). The long straight road leads to the town of Chioggia, which juts out into the sea.
The scenery is typical of a lagoon marshland plants, reeds, still tracts of water, fertile fish-hatcheries, narrow strips of land and sandbanks. The animal habitat is equally distinctive, and you may catch a glimpse of birds of passage and non-migratory specimens. Traditional fishing huts add to the unique charm of the landscape. Over the years, Mestre's urban layout has undergone extensive changes, particularly in the industrial area of Marghera and in many outlying villages. An ambitious project to revitalise the old town centre and its parks and gardens is currently under way. Environmental restoration schemes are planned for two waterways - the Marzenego and the Salso Canal - and for the San Giuliano parkland area which faces the lagoon Mestre's old woods, starting with the Carpenedo shrublands, are also to be given e net lease of life. The town's architectural and historical assets will be restored, beginning with the fortresses with which the Venetian Republic once protected its territory - Forte Marghera, Forte Carpenedo and Forte Tron.
The medieval features of the town centre -the Castle, the Clock Tower and Piazza Ferretto - will also be affected by the project. Take the road flanked on one side by the industrial landscape of Porto Marghera and, on the other, by the last stretch of cultivated fields on the lowland plains, and you will find yourself following the course of the River Brenta. Along the banks of this waterway, which links the lagoon with the hinterland and Padua, you'll glimpse villas once owned by the Venetian aristocracy, some of them designed by Palladio. The rivers cutting through the lowland area beyond the airport flow into the northern lagoon, where the ancient Venetic city of Altinum, later a Roman colony, once stood Rich in archeological remains, it is a fascinating area to explore.
Continuing along the Altino road, you will come to the small town of Porte- grandi, where boats laden with gravel and sand still cruise through the clear waters of the River Sile on their way to Venice. Surrounded by unspoilt countryside, the leafy road skirting the banks of the Sile leads to Treviso. Here it is possible to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing hour or two. A long, scenic avenue laid during the Napoleonic occupation, the Terraglio, links Mestre and Treviso. The road is fringed by centuries-old plane-trees, between the branches of which you can just catch sight of the parks of villas. The lush countryside, enhanced by the classical architecture of the mansions once inhabited by Venetian aristocrats, makes this a very pleasant drive.
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