The Venetian gondola is one of the main and most recognizable symbols of the city. Visiting Venice and not riding a gondola is like going to Paris without going up the Eiffel Tower. That is why BlogoItaliano decided to look into the history and the present of this type of transport in detail, and also learned how much it costs to ride a gondola in Venice and how to do it.
There are several opinions on the origin of the word "gondola": some believe that it has Maltese or Turkish roots, others - Greek, which means "bowl" or "mussel".
Gondolas in Venice: a bit of history
How this elegant black boat got a banana-like shape and was born into the world is not completely clear, but the first mention of the gondolas was found at the end of the XI century, and by 1500 about 10 thousand gondolas transported dignitaries, merchants and goods through city channels.
In Venice there were many different boats: from very simple rafts to lush gilded barges of doges. Like taxis these days, Venetian gondolas were leased to boaters who sailed between marinas.
Soon the gondolas became a sign of status, as today is an expensive car. They were equipped to order, covered with carved and gilt decorations and fabrics for the season: silk or velvet.
The average cost of a Venetian gondola - 60 thousand euros
Today, most of the Venetian gondolas are black: in 1562, the Venice authorities ordered that boats not intended for celebrations and ceremonies be painted so as to avoid inappropriate brightness.
The characteristic appearance of the ship was formed over the centuries. Gondolas were built at family shipyards, or "square". Sons learned from fathers and grandfathers how to choose and dry beech, cherry, elm, spruce, larch, linden, mahogany, oak and walnut.
The first mention of the Venetian gondolas found in the XI century
Towards the end of the 19th century, the left side of the boat began to be made wider than the right, in order to balance the ship, controlled by one gondolier. Such an improvement allowed the rower to stand on the right and not pull the oar out of the water when moving.
By the way, each gondola in Venice is very expensive: the price of a boat is on average about 60 thousand euros.
The number of gondoliers in Venice is strictly limited - their total 425 peopleand therefore it is extremely difficult to get the profession of a rower of an elegant vessel.
Most likely to become the owner of the coveted license from those born in the family of the gondolier, where it is inherited. But this is not enough. Those who went through a special school, where he was trained for 9 months, are taken to gondoliers. Plus, the applicant must know a foreign language, the geography of the city and be able to sing.
It is believed that this work is intended only for men, but since 2009 the first female gondolier appeared who, with great difficulty, received permission to steer the vessel.
For an additional fee, the boatman will conduct an excursion and even sing
Gondolas are one of the main symbols of Venice, and therefore many travelers, arriving for the first time in the city, certainly try to add this impression to their piggy bank.
Boat trips are especially popular among lovers: a rare gondolier has not witnessed dozens, or even hundreds of offers of hands and hearts in various languages. They say that in such an atmosphere there are practically no failures.
Where can I rent a gondola?
You can take a gondola almost anywhere: at marinas, bridges, near hotels and shops. But the most popular departure points are St. Mark's Square, Murano Island and the Rialto Bridge.
At the peak of the season, the demand for gondolas in Venice also traditionally grows, but in the modern world such a difficulty can be avoided in turn - you can also book a gondola ride through an Internet link.
You can take a gondola in Venice almost anywhere
In Venice, there are 2 schedules for gondolas. First: from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. And the second: from 19:00 in the evening to 8:00 in the morning. A nightly rate is more expensive than a daytime one, but despite this, you cannot take a gondola with music in the evening. Therefore, often the daily rate may be higher (the one with serenades) than the evening one.
Important: in bad weather or a tide the gondolas do not work, but if you have booked an excursion in advance, then the money will be refunded.
How much does it cost to ride a gondola in Venice
A boat trip is designed more for tourists. Local, in turn, move around the city more by public transport - vaporetto. These are special ships with their own routes - something like a river bus.
The number of gondoliers in Venice is strictly limited - there are only 425 of them
Jumping into the first boat you get is not worth it, since prices are inherent in fluctuations. The cost depends on the length of the route, the type of gondola (there are very expensive, beautiful and more modest), the availability of music and the excursion of the gondolier. For an additional fee, the boatman can give you an excursion, answer all questions and sing Italian songs.
You can book a gondola either individually or by sharing a walk with other travelers. Payment is taken for the time and boat, and the gondola can accommodate up to 6 people. Thus, the more you are in the gondola, the cheaper the walk will be for everyone.
The official price for a walk: 80 euros for 30 minutes in the afternoon and 100 euros for 35 minutes at an evening rate. But in practice, gondoliers usually ask for much more. This is especially true during periods of tourist influx.
You can rent a gondola in Venice both locally - often with a little extreme (gondoliers are one of the first taxi drivers in the world), and in advance - through the popular Getyourguide service (available in Russian). In the second case, you will know in advance the route, price and time of the trip, and your gondolier will patiently wait for guests at the appointed place.
Especially popular boat trips with lovers
When choosing a gondola excursion through the site, please note that there are individual link trips and group link trips shared with other tourists. For a romantic atmosphere, especially with a marriage proposal, the first option is better, but for economy travelers the second.
Whichever option you choose, a gondola walk in Venice will surely be one of the most vivid impressions of your trip. And she is definitely worth trying this experience.
By the way, if you are traveling to Italy for the first time, we recommend that you sign up for our free e-mail course for travelers. It has many valuable tips and useful life hacks that are sure to come in handy for your trip.
Photos by: gnuckx, Ling, jurgen.proschinger, C., Chris Chabot, Marius Brede.