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.
It's 10 minutes to 6:00 PM and Kiki and I are rushing through the streets of Venice frantically looking for a gondolier. ...Any gondolier. "Where'd they all go?," I ask, "A few minutes ago they were as common as pigeons 'round here!" 7:00 is the witching hour when the price of a gondola ride magical goes up by 20 Euros. I finally spot the trademark striped shirt and straw hat one of them standing in a small cobblestoned square.
I run over, before anyone else snags him, and ask, "Are you free to give us a boat ride? Can we still get it for the 80 Euro price?" The man raises his eyebrows undecidedly and checks his wristwatch. He shrugs and answers, "Yes, okay... Follow me." Kiki and I smile at each other in triumph.
How could you go to Venice and not go on a gondola ride? Easily, apparently. Every friend I enthusiastically asked who'd previously been here, "Did you go on a gondola ride?," always gave me the same mundane head shake and disappointing answer, "Nah, it was too expensive." What?! Some of these are the same people who paid $200 for bungee jumping or parachuting because they said those were "once in a lifetime experiences". ...I know, right? What's a gondola ride, if not that? Why on earth would you come this far and then skip it?
The gondolier leads Kiki and me through a long maze of passages and I begin to worry if it's maybe some sort of scam I've gotten us into before we finally arrive at his boat. It has a plush, red and gold interior--perfect stereotype! (I didn't want one of the blue upholstered ones, that's for sure--it just doesn't look right.) He helps us get on board, unties the ropes, and we're off.
I am almost instantly hynotized by the tranquility of the canal. It's far quieter down here than I'd ever imagined and it's so calming to be away from the hoards of tourists who cram the Venetian alleyways. The soft gurgling of the water as it splashes against the side of our boat, the sound of the gondolier's oar as it pushes us around the corners of two thousand-year old buildings calms my frayed nerves. "Are you happy?"," Kiki asks. "Very," I reply having to choke back what may be tears of joy forming in my eyes. I have to add out loud for the record, "We're actually in a gondola. Can you believe that?"
However, I can tell from her deep, heaving sighs and occasional soft cooing sounds that she's having as fantastic time as I am. (Don't ask. She really has a thing for boats.)
"What's you name, sir?," I turn around and ask the gondolier. "Marco!," he states emphatically and adds, "There are lots of Marcos here in Venice--very common!" We really lucked out with our last-minute find of Marco. He's an extremely fit, slightly older gentleman with an upper-torso that is remarkably similar to Popeye the Sailor's. His forearms are massive from decades of rowing tourists through these waters. Marco gives brief factoids of Venice and tells the history of some of the buildings as we pass them. We float by other couples in gondolas, some of which are piloted by very young men who are speaking on cell phones or texting. I'm glad we didn't get one of those kids driving us! Nope, we got ourselves a professional here. Sometimes Marco even shows the youngsters up by racing by their boats as they struggle to keep up with his unspoken challenge. He always wins.
As our gondola turns a corner and we open up into the Grand Canal. Kiki and I both gasp in wonder. The sun is now setting and the warm glow it creates on the buildings reflected against the sparkling water is incredibly dramatic. Transcendental. "Wow!," is all I can mutter as I'm rendered speechless.
All too soon, our 45-minute ride comes to an end. Marco helps us out of his boat and we thank him warmly, "It was really, really great!"
I would highly recommend choosing your gondola operator very carefully. Find a seaworthy, experienced guy who looks like he knows his business. I would also advise doing a ride during the day, because at night the canals would be so pitch-dark you wouldn't see much of anything. Errr... Unless that's what you and your significant other are looking for? Romantically, I mean.
As we walk away from the boat, Chesire Cat grins plastered all over our faces, Kiki turns to me and asks, "Well, was it worth it?" I answer emphatically, "Every. Single. Cent!"
See my "Gondola Ride" video.
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!
Sorry but the photo you are looking at is not of the misses and me enjoying a gondola cruise. I had to be content with watching complete strangers enjoying their romantic rides. It costs about 90 euros ( equivalent to about $145 of US funny money ) to hire one of these beauties for 45 minutes. Definately out of old hund's Oklahoma farm boy budget ! The gondolas range from plain looking to the deluxe artistically painted models with plush bucket seats. The happy couple shown in photo 1, although probably from another country, appeared to have the Italian hand gestures well mastered.
Do try limited bargaining with the gondoliers. They are flexible to an extent, but remember that need to pay their stiff taxes to the modern day doge. After all you would not want one of these gondoliers to take the dreaded walk over the bridge of sighs. Just kidding folks. They don't still that. However, I bet that some reader will still take that comment seriously, and will complain to the VT staff about old hund misleading the benevolent public.
Photo 2 shows the main gondola dock on Canale Grande. Basilica and Piazza San Marco are shown in the background. Don't you agree that they look grand from any angle. You can watch new gondolas being built and others being repaired at the adjoining gondola yard. Unfortunately I visited on Sunday when the yard was closed, but still thoroughly enjoyed my visit.
The first thing I wanted to see in Venice was one of the famous gondols. So when I after 5 minutes walk from the trainstation saw one I started to take photos like a maniak, afraid that it would be only one I would see during the day.
Well... let's say I didn't have to worry... Venice is full of gondols, so full that you might think that the competition for customers would cut the prices down...
However, it's not like that... From what I heard it costs around 100 euro for a trip. I decided to jump on that and get pleased with my photos instead...
Gondola is undoubtely the most romantic way to explore the historic centre of the town. The 45 minutes tour will cost you 130 euros, which I considere as a robbery.
I didn't want to pay such extremely high price, instead I've explore the town by walking.
Maybe, just maybe, some other time in my next life.
When you think of Venice , gondolas and canals spring into your mind. Wel this is the main character of Venice, this is what it has in excess that most other places do not have. Everywhere in Europe has the grand Churches and palaces etc etc. When in Venice take a rgondola ride, even if it is raining you will still enjoy the experience.