After a day of rowing, or waiting for the customers, the gondoliers are bringing back their gondolas; here at Campo Santa Sofia on the Grand Canal facing the Mercado (photo 1 & video).
It's around 19 h and the day has been very warm with temperatures above 40°C in the sun. The Grand Canal is for them the worst part having to move between the vaporetto's, cargos, water taxis and other motoscafi. My photo 2 shows a gondola nearly pushed by a vaporetto!
They clean the seats and carefully cover the gondola with a bleu tarpaulin for the night.
In the morning the gondolas get a good wash (photo 3).
The first and last time we took a gondola, with our then young children, was nearly forty years ago. Presently we take the "traghetto", at a cost of 0,50 € per person. OK it's only for a few minutes but it is definitively a gondola.
Queen of the canals, is and remains the gondola, one of the most fashionable watercrafts of the world.
They reach and narrow gondolas, there is already, since approximately 1000 years.
The gondolas can use also the narrowest and flattest canals.
The helmsman, who stands in the rear part of the asymmetrically moulded boat, provides the balance.
The gondolas are exactly 10,87 meters long and measures, at the widest place, 1,42 meters.
1562, decided, the advice of Venice, laws against the excessive pageantry, within the city.
Since this time, all gondolas are black if they were not produced for quite special occasions.
For a gondola, one uses 280 parts, that consist of eight different wood types.
The gondolas glide majestically through the canals and serve sooner for amusement trips.
There are two important rules to remember about gondola rides in Venice:
1) If the price bothers you, don't do it.
2) If the price doesn't bother you, make sure you understood the gondolier correctly.
The city of Venice sets official rates for gondola rides, which started at €120 for 40 minutes the last time I checked. Additional 20-minute increments are €40. After 7 p.m., the base rate climbs to €100, with €50 for an additional 2 minutes. Up to six people can share a gondola.
This doesn't mean you'll actually pay 120 euros, or that you'll get a 40-minute ride. Depending on demand, gondoliers may regard the official rates as a polite fiction. Special services, such as singing, can boost the fare even more.
WE DID NOT TAKE THE GONDOLO RIDE.I thought it looked boring and a definite rip off for the price.Use the canal taxi boats far more interesting and you see much much more for about 6 euros!
I confess, I'm a tourist. I wanted to take a gondola ride, but I wanted it to be special, not like a ride at an amusement park. We ventured throughout the city, enjoying the many sites and then we saw him - our gondolier. He was standing near a small bridge that spanned a small canal in a residential area of the city. He seemed very pleasant as we passed by offering up a smile and a "buona sera" as he stood, hat in hand.
We asked if he was free, asked the price and off we went. Our ride lasted about 45 minutes and took us through some very scenic areas. We eventually exited out on to the Grand Canal and made our way towards the Rialto Bridge. The perspective of looking at the bridge and surrounding buildings from the gondola was very nice. We then headed back off the grand canal and ended up where we had started.
It was enjoyable, romantic and something you can't do anywhere else. The cost was 100 Euros and though it wasn't cheap, I would have never forgiven myself if we didn't partake.
When one thinks of Venice, gondolas immediately come to mind. Sure it is cliche and a tourist trap but it is one of the best ways to see Venice. You can find gondoliers everywhere in Venice and a gondola can hold up to six people. The price set is for the ride itself so the more people you have, the cheaper the ride is. A little known fact is that you can haggle with the gondoliers. if you don't like the price, say no thanks and walk away - within seconds another gondolier will run up to you with another offer. Keep doing this ritual until you get a price you are happy with. You can choose between a Grand Canal tour or a small canal tour. I recommend the small canal as it is quieter. The Grand Canal is very busy and can also have very choppy water. Pick your gondolier also for his personality, he should be informative about the history of Venice and of the gondola. Remember you are paying a lot of money for this trip so your gondolier should deliver. And oh by the way...they do not sing for you, even if you try to bribe them. It only happens in Vegas. But you can pay to have singers and/or musicians accompany you for that extra romantic touch.
Of course being in Venice you will see many gondolas about! This photo was taken from a bridge within the back canals of Venice. You can often hear an accordian being played or a gondolier singing.
I did not actually go on a gondola as I knew it would be too pricey for my budget, but did enjoy watching them all the same. I believe that the typical price was 90 euros for 50 minutes. Prices go up during the evening.
Symbol of Venice
Even people who have never been to Venice know gondola very well. Gondolas was in Venice as early as XI century. 1562 ordered to paint gondolas only black. During festivities they are decorate with flowers. This must be a very great experience sail with a gondola. And you can ask the gondolier that he sing some italian songs. But this pleasure is expensive - above 60-100 Euro.
This foto is made near of Fish Market - Pescheria.
Most gondaliers will initially quote you a flat rate of 100 euros - no matter where you are or what time it is. Then, depending on your negotiating skills you may be able to bring the price down, but certainly no lower than the standard rates set by the local council - (These can be seen on the official web site below).
The set rates are for a 50min trip, and most will not entertain the idea of a shorter one for less money.
We decided 70 euros was the maximum we were going to pay, and although a few refused flatly, we finally found one who offered a 25 min trip for this amount.
Our mistake was leaving it too late into our last day. As dusk falls and the majority of the tourists, and gondaliers, start to leave Venice, we were left with very few to bargain with.
At night you can walk street after street and see no-one - except a little red hoodied dwarf...
What is Venice famous for?!? Yes! the Canals!... and yes! the Gondolas!!
Gondolas are like the biggest symbols of Venice... It's like THE thing to do in Gondola.. sit in one with your loved one... how romantic... yah yah.. i was alone.. so naturally i gave that a miss TOO!! argh..
But if you have money to spare... it really is a romantic thing to do, in my opinion.
Ranges around 60-80euros per gondola. Many of the gondolas are very well decorated and mostly catered for couple with very luxurious cushioned seats. But some do seat up to 6persons.
I know that many people go to Venice and are satisfied to watch the gondolas go by, as it is indeed expensive to go for a trip in one of them. However, I would not miss it for the world. Venice is all about the canals and the gondolas, and if you don't take a trip in one then you have not really experienced Venice.
If I had my way again I would go for one of the musical gondolas because, as you float along, you cannot help but be enchanted by the Gondoliers who sing. Obviously, as you will gather, mine was no singer:-(
Also be forewarned that all gondolas are painted black. When we were growing up I remember seeing pictures of brightly painted gondolas, and indeed my Mum had one at home made from tiny shells. These are not the real thing, however, as the law dictates that they must be black.
It seems that they are incredibly expensive to construct and to maintain, plus the gondoliers have to undergo many years of intensive training. This is the reason that it is so expensive to take a ride in one.
Do not miss this experience for the world - you will always regret it if you do.
I returned to Venice in September 2006 and there appear to be even fewer singing gondoliers than ever.
As a point of interest, the cost of a 45 minute gondola trip in 2006 was Euro 19 - not as expensive as I recall it being 4 years ago!
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