What is Venice without its gondolas? Venice is a city in northeastern Italy that is composed of 118 small islands sitting amidst canals and lagoons. There are bridges connecting the canals but the use of gondolas has remained to be a popular means of traversing the water when going around some parts of the city.
The gondola is a long-established Venetian rowing boat with a flat bottom. It is designed to be suitable in navigating the lagoon and canals of Venice. Gondolas have been part of Venetian way of life for centuries already. They served as major means of transportation around the city. They are ubiquitous water vessels, so to speak. Today, the gondola has become iconic and synonymous to Venice and is popularly known to be among the reasons that draw tourists to the city. Gondolas at present still serve as public transport that ferries along the Grand Canal. They are also used in rowing races or regattas participated in by gondola rowers or gondoliers.
Gondolas in the 13th century normally had 12 oars. However their sizes became smaller in the 15th centuries and they were laden with so many decorations that somehow made the rowing a bit difficult. As a result, a law was passed banning too much ornament on gondolas. At present, gondolas are amazingly uniform, weighing 1,500 pounds and with components made of lime, oak, fir, larch, elm, mahogany and cherry wood. Because of their uniformity in make, size and shape, the gondolas have become even more beautiful to look at especially when they are docked in clusters along the banks of the lagoon.
To row a gondola, one must use a pole to propel the boat and make it move to a desired direction. These boats are not symmetrical and the keel tends to turn to the right. This creates a counter balance so that when the oar is pushed to the right, the gondola moves on the left direction. With tourism being much alive in Venice, gondolas have become tourist attractions in themselves as they are utilized to carry people for a ride at a certain fare rate.
Gondola rowers are called gondoliers. The job of the gondolier holds a special part in the story of Venice. According to an old Venetian tale, all gondoliers have webbed feet symbolizing their resemblance to water beings such as ducks that naturally know their way around the water. This is just an old folktale but gondoliers are indeed like water animals that rely on their rowing techniques and practical understanding of the canals and lagoon in performing their job. The gondolier’s rowing skill serves as a legacy that is passed from father to son and on to the next generations. Gondoliers regard gondola rowing as a profession and not just an occupation.
Romancing the gondola
There is so much romance in riding a gondola that lures tourists and even locals to take a ride. The vessel itself has a particularly dark, silent and dramatic bearing that gives it an air of mystery, excitement and romance. The best time to experience a romantic ride aboard the gondola is to take a trip at night when the moon is at its fullest and the surroundings are all quiet. Many people who have had the unique experience of riding in gondolas greatly relish such episode in their life that they often want to come back for another lift.