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7 Amazing Things To Know About Gondolas

7 Amazing Things To Know About Gondolas

Many cities have a symbol that represents them: for example Apple for New York City, Eiffel Tower for Paris, Big Ben Tower for London, and, of course, Gondola for Venice. But Gondola is not just an old symbol; it’s also one of the means of public transportation in the city and it’s a part of culture and traditions. It’s a symbol, which is very much alive nowadays.

Read these amazing things about Gondolas and you will look at them with different eyes.

1. History of Gondola

Gondolas are much older than what you might think. Yes, they are about 1,000 years old! During the 16th century, Gondolas were the main mode of transportation used in Venice. By the 18th century, there were about 10,000 Gondolas in the city. Today there are only about 450 licensed Gondolas in Venice.

2. What is it made of?

Compared to other bigger and more sophisticated boats one might think that it is not so difficult to make a Gondola. Completely wrong. It is a very meticulous process, requires true craftsmanship. All Gondolas are handmade and it takes about 2 months to build one. Gondolas are made of 280 hand-made pieces using eight types of wood: lime, oak, mahogany, walnut, cherry, fir, larch and elm.

There has been a recent proposal to build modern gondolas from plastic or fiberglass. Shock and horror on Gondoliers faces! I doubt if it will ever happen.

The ornate shiny metal trim on the prow is called the ferro. It always has 6 bars under the curved top piece. These bars represent the six sestiere, or districts of Venice. Sometimes 2 smaller bars are added, representing the two islands of Murano and Burano. At the side of the gondola you can see the forcola, an oddly shaped carved piece of wood, usually walnut because it’s very hard, used to hold the oar when rowing.

3. Asymmetrical shape

May be you have noticed, or may be not, but beautifully shaped Gondolas are actually asymmetrical. Every Gondola is a little more than 35 feet in length and 4.5 feet wide with a weight of about 1,500 lbs. But the left side of Gondola is about 10 inches longer. This asymmetry provides a counterbalance for the weight of the Gondolier. As the gondolier is rowing only of one side, this counterbalance prevents the boat moving in circles. 

4. Becoming a Gondolier

Most of the modern Gondoliers descend from the families of Gondoliers, this family tradition goes from one generation to another.

To become a Gondolier you have to go through a training of 400 hours. It covers every aspect of rowing a boat, making it almost similar to the modern day driving tests. Only 3-4 new licenses are given every year. And today there are only about 450 licensed Gondoliers.

A 900-Year-Old Taboo

It is only in 2010 that the first license was given to a woman to row the Gondola. The first Gondoliera is Giorgia Boscolo. Mother of two small children, she follows in the footsteps of her father Dante.

5. “You can have any color you want, so long as it’s black”. – Henry Ford

In past centuries, Gondolas were painted in many different colors and embellished with all kind of things you can possibly imagine. According to the local authorities the situation was out of control and they passed the law specifying that all Gondolas must be black. There are still little personal touches like the colored cushions, rugs or flower vases, but it’s nothing compared to the diversity in the design of the past.

The clothing of a Gondolier is also strictly regulated with white colored shirts or striped t-shirts (red and white or black and white) in summer. In the winter, the Gondoliers have to wear black-colored jackets which also save them from the chilly Venice winters.

6. Numbers $$

It costs about 38,000 Euros to build a new Gondola.

Ride prices: There is a fixed rate of 80 Euros for a 40-minute gondola ride during the day Every additional 20 minutes will cost you $40 extra. After 7 pm, the gondola rides are slightly more expensive, costing 100 Euros for a 40-minute ride.

7. Maintenance

Not only Ferrari and Maserati are high maintenanceJ) Gondolas, these floating beauties too require a good maintenance! The hulls of the Gondolas are to be varnished every month to save them from the pests that destroy the wood.

The squero is the traditional boatyard where gondolas are made and repaired. The most famous one is in San Trovaso

Do you have a picture of yourself in a Gondola? Share it on our Facebook page! We would love to see it!

7 Amazing Things To Know About Gondolas

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