The Brenta river has its source in the Caldonazzo Lake, then it flows down the Valsugana valley to Bassano, where there begins its course in the plain. When it reaches the north of Padua, it divides: a branch continues straight to the south lagoon of Venice while at Noventa Padovana the other branch, the famous Naviglio del Brenta (Brenta shipway), deviates to Strà, Fiesso, Dolo, Mira to reach Fusina and, ultimately, Venice.
Noventa Padovana was the old river port of Padua on the Brenta river; once the boats from Venice used to stop here, and passengers and goods reached Padua on carts and carriages. Then in 1209 the opening of the Piovego Canal was completed. This 10-km long canal goes from Padua to Noventa Padovana to convey the waters of Padua from the Bacchiglione river into the Brenta, thus connecting Padua directly to the Naviglio del Brenta and, hence, to Venice.
With the opening of the Piovego Canal and the building of the river port at Portello, the Venice-Padua navigation stretch grew and flourished.
After the arrival of Napoleon and the fall of the Venice Republic in 1797, the navigation service of Burchiello ended and there began a slow decline of river transport, also proportional to the rapid development of the railway and road networks.
In the 1950s cleaning works, river re-sectioning, and the restoration of old locks made it possible to resume navigation along the old waterways where the peoples of the Veneto had made their history.
The regular service of Burchiello resumed in 1960 as a tourist service linking Padua, the Brenta Riviera and Venice, thanks to an initiative by the Tourism Board of Padua and Venice; in the 1990s other boats began to furrow the waters of the Brenta.
Today river navigation along the Brenta Riviera is an important economic asset carrying about sixty thousand people per year, who visit the Villas and use the catering and accommodation services of the hotels along the Brenta Riviera.
The Burchiello offers the tourist line service daily on the Padua – Brenta Riviera – Venice route, from March to October each year, and ensures a public transportation service to individual tourists as well.
Other boats instead offer rental services for events or for group excursions, along routes and with programs on demand.