Taking a gondola ride through the canals of Venice can be very romantic, but it can be very costly. The gondola is a world famous symbol of Venice. A gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat. For centuries gondolas were the main means of transportation and most common watercraft in Venice. The main role is to carry tourists on rides at fixed prices. The gondola is moved forward by a person, the gondolier, who stands facing the bow and rows with a forward stroke followed by a backward stroke.
While gondolas are once regularly used by the Venetians, especially of the upper classes, today vaporetti has become main source of water transportation in Venice. A gondola is painted in black, which is considered the colour of elegance by the Venetians.
The origin of gondola is not exactly known, could've come from the latin word, "Cymbula", which means a little boat. According to the documents of the ancient City of Venice the gondola seems to have been made around in the early 1000’s. In the 1600's there were an estimated 10,000 gondolas in daily use in and around the canals of Venice. The beauty of the Gondolas was captured by many artists in their paintings.
It is eleven metres in length, 600kilos in weight, made with 8 different types of wood in 280 pieces are used to build a gondola: fir, oak, cherry, walnut, elm, mahogany, larch and lime. The oars are made of beech wood. In order to resist the tendency to turn towards the left at the forward stroke, the left side of gondola is made longer than the right side by 24cm. The ornament on the front of the boat is called the “ferro” serves as a decoration and is made of brass, stainless steel, or aluminium. The bottom is flat so that it can navigate in shallow water and it is asymmetric. The shipyards where gondolas are prepared are called squeri and their workers squeraroli.
A gondola is like a luxury car that carries six persons, a gondola was not only a means of transportation, it provided leisure trips from the early days. It had the luxury of a shelter which was at the center of the boat. People sat in here to read, eat and enjoy the ride in private . A gondola is used for special occasions like marriages, parades, celebrations as well.
Gondolas and gondoliers are found from Tronchetto and the Piazzale Roma to the Rialto bridge area, the Doges’ palace and busy pedestrian crossings along the secondary canal. A gondolier must be officially licensed and must wear black pants, striped shirts and closed dark shoes. Gondola fares are officially set and their rates are high during nights. A standard gondola ride is 40 minutes ride.
Gondola ride lasts for 40 minutes if you are ready to pay for overtime.
If you want to experience the hubbub of the Grand Canal, hire a Gondola near the Doge’s palace and if you are looking for a romantic and quite tour book the gondola away from the vaporetti.
If you consider booking a gondola through a travel agency then you will be charged an additional amount.
The gondolas near San Mark’s Square are more expensive, so it is advisable to walk a little further for a gondola stop.
Share it with other tourists so that way you can save money by sharing the tariff.
Ferry gondola that carries upto 14 people costs less.