Visiting the city of Venice you will have the memorable opportunity to admire our traditional venetian Gondola. In fact, as in the old times, many of the iconic black boats still navigate the Grand Canal and the minor canals of Venice.
The elegant and sinuous black boats are famous all over the world and are commonly associated with Venice, a bit like pizza is associated with Naples. However, not many people know that gondolas truly carry the symbol of the city!
Symbol that is found in the iron prow-head of the gondola. The sort of comb in front of each boat, which has the function of balancing the boat itself. Its shape, in fact, is not random at all:
- the S-shape resumes the twists of the Grand Canal;
- the six forward facing teeth correspond to the six districts of Venice;
- the tooth facing inwards represents the Giudecca island;
- the arch above the last tooth represents the Rialto Bridge;
- the curved top end symbolizes the Doge’s hat.
So, we have already revealed some secrets to you… are you ready to dive deeper into the world of gondolas?
The Gondola Venice’s most famous boat
The gondola is a traditional venetian boat used to move around the city of Venice Italy. In the absence of roads, the inhabitants couldn’t use horses, and the size of the canals required a thin and flat bottomed embarcation. The venitian gondola surely answers all those problems.
The construction of a gondola requires a lot of time ( about a year ) and some well selected pieces of wood (8 different types). The craftsman starts by building the skeleton, then adds the sides and keeps building on top of the structure.
Once finished, the waterproofing process can start, followed by painting and finishing varnish and golden decorations for the most elegant gondolas.
Find out more about the features of the gondola boat in our article !
Where are gondolas built? Journey to the Squero of Venice
The squero in Venice is the shipyard for small rowing boats of the Venetian tradition: mascarete, sandoli, caorline and certainly, the famous gondolas.
Today only 5 squeri remain active on the island, but in ancient times there were many more!
Seen from outside a squero is easily recognizable:
- it is singularly characterized by wood, which recalls the relationship with the mountains from which the construction material comes from;
- It has a covered area, which is closed on each side, except the side towards the water, called tesa. Here is where boats are built and repaired;
- The open tesa ends with a ramp towards the water. This ramp was required to take the boat in and out of the water with the only help of a trolley (the electric bridge cranes, have only recently been introduced to help men in this activity!)
Visiting a squero today is truly exciting, an incredible leap in time accompanied by an ax master (whom we call squerarol) who will tell you about construction techniques and stories that have remained almost unchanged over time.
The Venice Remer and the Gondola’s Forcola
We now come to introduce you to another fundamental figure in the life of a gondola: the Venice remer.
The remer is the craftsman who creates the moving parts of venetian rowing boat, i.e. oars and forks. It is no coincidence that we used the term “create”: in fact, the hands of the remer model with passion, following ancient traditions, a piece of wood until it is reborn as oar or pitchfork.
Most people think this is easy: after all, isn’t the oar a long wooden scoop? Believe us, this is not easy at all! The oars have different sizes and characteristics based on the type of boat and the rowing person to whom they must be combined.
You can book this great visit to a workshop, where you will have the opportunity to follow the hands of the remer while he creates a venetian gondola oar or a forcola … he will take you through the process and tell you this love story like no other!
The Gondolier: Venice’s secrets keeper
The image which comes to your mind when thinking about a gondolier is probably the following: a man with striped shirt, black pants and straw hat. But do you know that this “uniform” is rather recent and is linked to the success of the movie “Venice, the moon and you” ? In this movie, the famous italian actor Alberto Sordi impersonates a charming gondolier dressed exactly in that way.
Being a gondolier is an ancient profession, which takes a lot of preparation. In fact, in order to become a gondolier, one needs to attend a special school and pass a difficult final exam. Lessons include the study of some foreign languages and of the history of Venice. Did you know that nowadays there are over 600 licenced gondoliers in Venice, mostly working to offer unforgettable gondola tours to tourists?
We have revealed some secrets of the gondolier, but there would still be a lot to tell you! Even if the profession of the gondolier has changed over time … gondoliers are still the keepers of our fascinating city’s secrets!
The gondola ride and Venice seen from the water
A gondola ride is a bit of a must do activity when you visit Venice, so much that it seems almost obvious. However, believe us, being on a gondola boat is a really nice adventure, probably one of the best experiences in Venice! It is much more than just a boat tour !
Lulled by the gentle movement of the water and fascinated by the stories your gondolier will tell you, you will have a truly unrivaled perspective of the city. If it’s your first time on the island, going on one of Venice gondola rides is an experience you shouldn’t skip!
Our advice is to get away from the Basilica di San Marco (st Mark’s Basilica), Piazza San Marco (St Mark square) and Ponte dei Sospiri (the Bridge of Sighs). These areas are certainly beautiful places, but the risk is staying in line for a long time. We suggest instead you go into the smaller and quieter canals of Venice for a more peaceful and authentic gondola ride!
The best gondola tour in Venice !
People often ask what is the best gondola tour in Venice. It’s not an easy question to answer, because it really depends on you and your personal preferences and of course budget. A gondola ride costs between a little more than 30€ for a simple ride up to a few hundred to privatise the boat, have a drink and music and maybe a diner option too ! We will try to give you an overview of the options to help you make up your mind :
- Private tour- gondola ride : suitable for a small group, family, even couples looking for a romantic time. You can request additional services, such as aperitivo on board, music…
- Shared gondola ride with music : suitable for any visitor. You get to discover Venice through its waterways with acoustic musicians ! This tour is composed of a fleet of 5 gondolas, it could be perfect for large groups up to 28 persons !
- Shared gondola ride with commentaries: suitable for anyone, but especially if it is your first time in Venice! It is a 1 hour tour composed of a 30 min walking tour and 30 min gondola tour. You will finish your tour on Saint Mark’s square close to the doge palace.
If you book any one of those gondola tours, you will get a “skip the line” ticket and avoid the long queues on the docks.
Continue browsing with us discovering: