Venetian Gondolas

13 things you may not know about Venetian Gondolas

Gondola riding Totally touristy, totally a must when visiting Venice. Here are a few fun facts you may not know about Gondolas.

Venetian Gondolas-They’ve been around since at least 1094 and were the main way to get around for hundreds of years. People used to use horses too until they were banned in the 14th century, today bicycles are forbidden.

-During the 17th & 18th century there were more than 10,000 on the water. Now, there are about 400.

-Flat bottomed gondola’s are designed for Venice’s shallow water… they don’t have a keel or a rudder. The gondolier stands on the back to do all the steering and to see.

Venetian Gondolas-They used to be all different colors, the more ornate the better. Until one wise Doge decided the showing off had got out of hand and ordered, in the 16th century, that all gondolas had to be just black on the outside. Interiors can still be decorated.

-They are lopsided, the left is 10 inches longer. The Gondolier always stands off center. The boat weighs about the same as grand piano and is 35 feet long.

-Gondoliers have to do 400 hours of training then take a test in order to get a license. They  learn about landmarks, languages & history in addition to how to steer the boat. Only three or four people qualify each year.

Venetian Gondolas-Gondoliers are well paid… in normal (non Covid years) they can earn up to 100,000 euro.

-Prices are fixed… 80 euro per half hour, more at night when it is most romantic.

-There is only one female Gondolier. Giorgia Boscolo got her license in 2010.

-The design of the gondola is filled with symbolism. The S shape of the prow, called the ferro, stands for the bends in the Grand Canal, the ‘teeth’ in it represent the 6 districts of Venice, while the curve top stands for the Doge’s cap.

-They are built in a very traditional way from 8 different kinds of wood, using 280 different pieces and cost about 40,000 euro. They get a new coat of varnish every 40 days.

-Gondola’s used to have a cabin. Nobles liked to maintain their privacy. They were also the perfect places for illicit trysts and had shutters that closed. The original Venetian blind. Tourists prefer to see everything!Venetian Gondolas

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