If you’re ever traveling to Venice, make it a point to look out the window as your plane is about to land, and you will easily realize why they call it The Floating City. Venice looks like the way it is because it’s a city that’s built upon a lagoon just between the Italian mainland and the Adriatic Sea. The waters there are backdropped by a labyrinth of buildings and roads filled with more than 400 bridges - an image that defines the very city itself. And of course, no one should ever forget about the dreamy gondolas that float the waterways.
But it’s not just an attraction, these floating modes of transport is a way of life. As a matter of fact, motorized vehicles and bicycles are not even allowed in Venice, leaving its inhabitants with the waterways as its main mode of getting around. Roads are not common in a city that’s literally made of canals, so you either go by foot or, more excitingly, by water transport, which include:
- Vaporetto or public ferries
- Taxi acquei or water taxis
- Gondolas or the venetian flat boats
- Traghetto or gondola ferries
And since you’re traveling to Venice, make sure to remember one: do not ever miss out on riding a gondola along the Venetian lagoon because that’s what being in Venice is all about.
What Are Gondolas?
First, they’re pronounced as “gone-duh-las.”
Second, a gondola is a Venetian boat that has a flat bottom designed to move around the lagoon. It’s like a canoe but is a lot narrower and definitely prettier than most canoes. They are, historically the main method of transportation in the city and they still form part of its transport system today. More importantly, they are seen as one of the more romantic things in the city and have done more than enough to give Venice its own romantic charm. In fact, no one would ever imagine going to the beautiful sites of Venice on foot.
In fact, long ago Venice was riddled with gondolas, numbering over 10,000 of them. But now their numbers have gone under 400, which are all the licensed gondoliers in the city. The typical Gondola ride would be about 40 minutes and they cost around 40 Euros per way. As modern technology might have it, you can actually purchase tickets to these rides online. This can be a lot more convenient and peaceful since you won’t have to deal with gondoliers wanting to bargain the actual fare of each ride, which is a practice by some who want to haggle and earn extra from their work.
Why the Gondola?
Clearly, going to Venice without ever experiencing a gondola ride is like visiting Dubai and not experiencing Burj Khalifa. If you don’t experience it, you’ve pretty much missed out on most of Venice. Besides, getting on board a beautifully decorated black boat is one of the most romantic experiences you’ll ever experience in your life. The seats are normally lined with cushions so you’ll be comfortable as you go out and be treated to all kinds of beautiful architecture around the city. Indeed, there’s really no better way to enjoy the sights of Venice than on a gondola, whether it be alone or with your friends.
The Gondola Experience
And with every ride, the experience can be very different. What you see will depend on whether you opted for a secluded route along the canals or go through the very popular Grand Canal. You’ll either see beautiful Baroque buildings or charmingly colored homes. But no matter your choice, you’ll definitely see beautiful churches, landmarks, and other structures with such intricate designs. And if you explore deeper, you’ll find a lot of gems that most tourists don’t encounter. Make your way to the Bridge of Sighs for a romantic moment with your significant other or be overwhelmed by the beauty of the La Fenice Theatre or the Basilica della Salute.
Gondola rides are amazing any time of the day, but they are at their best when you experience them from sunset and towards the evening. Nothing really beats watching the sky as it takes on a pinkish color and the water turning gold behind an entire city of beautiful architecture. It is a view that’s definitely quite breathtaking.
Who is the Gondolier?
In short, he’s the guy who rows the gondola around the canal. They are often portrayed in the movie as the person standing on the boat and rowing the oar as he serenades the passengers with hums of beautiful Italian melodies.
Being a gondolier means being part of a historic profession in Venice. In fact, it’s considered a noble profession that plays an important role in the city’s heritage. Anyone who wishes to take up this life must go through apprenticeship that takes years with various levels of training and evaluation. In fact, they have to not only know their boating but they must know their history and linguistics as well. Gondoliers are required to know at least three languages before they even get their license.
Today, you’ll find gondoliers wearing the typical black pants and striped shirt with black shoes. As you ride, he will be at the edge of the boat to row it with his oar. You’ll notice him call out to his fellow gondoliers as they pass one another along the canals. It’s part of the whole experience, really.
No doubt that riding a gondola will be one if not your most prized memory in Venice. Just like other trips, make sure to plan your visit accordingly so you can make sure that riding these boats will be part of your itinerary. As mentioned before, consider buying the tickets online to avoid any inconveniences. By the time you’re done watching the sunset into the horizon while being serenaded by your gondolier, you’ll be ready to try having dinner in one of the city’s restaurants as a wonderful ending to the most romantic day.