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A short history of gondolas

A short history of gondolas

What would Venice be without its supple boats gliding gently on the green and shallow waters of the countless streams? A short history of gondolas is what we’re going to talk about today. In fact, it’s quite a funny story, so sit back and just relax as we travel to the beautiful and romantic city of lovers hundreds of years ago…

This elegant and also a bit dark boats have been around for centuries. In the 13th century, they had 12 oars. By the 15th century, their size had shrunk, but they had a small cabin and were heavily ornate… so much so that the city issued a ban on excessive and ostentatious decorations. From that moment on, gondolas were all black, with a “standard” style: a prow, the curly tail and the long, specific oar, unfastened from the hull.

As there is no engine or other mechanism to propel the boat, a person is needed to propel it. Thus, the profession of gondolier has tradition and poise in Venice.

What about the prow, the front side of the gondola? This has a story of its own, with an origin buried deep in the shadows of the past. Its inspiration might come from the Ancient Egypt or from Rome. Also, the single prong of the boat apparently symbolized the Doge’s authority.

Gondolas are the staff of crafty wonder: they are handmade from 8 types of wood and made up of 280 small and large pieces.

Ever since the Middle Ages, gondoliers belonged to a guild. Getting a license in Venice these days is pretty tough. Only 425 are granted and to get to row your own boat on the canals, you need to go through training, pass a difficult exam (both practical and theoretical, including foreign languages and local history).

However, while it might be a bit tricky to get your own gondola, you can drive a car with Venice car hire.