Gondola rides in Venice and the fate of the main Venetian symbol

Gondola in Venice

In the past, gondolas were an integral part of Venice and residents had to use gondoliers to get from one point of the city to another. Today, Venetians no longer need this form of water transport as it has been replaced by vaporettos, traghettoes, passenger boats and water cabs. Nevertheless, gondolas in Venice remain in demand by tourists who dream of enjoying a classic canal ride. Now the colorful gondolas are a symbol of Venice and a romantic attraction for visitors to the city.

A ride in a Venetian gondola can be compared to a ride through the city in a luxury car. Customers determine their own destinations, and the number of passengers can range from one to five or six. The difference with vaporettoes, traghettoes and motorboats is that the latter are public transport, a kind of – small buses that carry passengers along predetermined routes and stop only in designated places.

Gondola in Venice, Venetian Gondola

Facts about gondolas in Venice

Riding in a gondola is very comfortable and convenient because the boats used are equipped with padded seats, upholstered with tassels and even tables. They are decorated with statuettes of seahorses, Venetian lions, dolphins, Neptunes and Cupids, decorative ornaments of wood and gold leaf.

  • The boat’s hull is rounded and asymmetrical, the length of the starboard side is 24 cm less than the left, the stern and bow are elevated, the bottom is flat, without a keel.
  • Length of the gondola – 11.05 m, width – 1.4 m, weight – about 350-400 kg. Deviations in size are only allowed for ceremonial boats.
  • A Venetian gondola consists of 280 parts, hand-carved from 8-10 types of wood. It takes approximately 3 years to make.
  • The heavy iron comb-tip, called a ferro, has the number of prongs according to the number of historic districts in the city – 6, and the upper rounding is associated with the headdress of the Venetian doge. The ferro serves as a counterweight to the gondolier, protects the bow of the boat to some extent, helps to keep the course and determines whether the gondola can pass under the bridge.
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gondola in venice

  • The presence of only one oar is due to the narrowness of the Venetian canals. Its functionality is augmented by a complex shaped paddle – forkola. It provides several modes of movement – slow and fast, rotating and braking, forward and backward. Gondoliers always take the forkola with them, as it is too expensive.
  • The shape of the traditional rowing boats that travel the canals of Venice has changed over time. In the 15th and 16th centuries they were shorter and wider, and by the 18th century they had taken on almost modern shapes. The last changes took place at the beginning of the XX century.
  • In the middle of XVIII century in Venice there were about 1500 gondolas.
  • There is no clear answer to the question of how much a gondola costs. Its price depends on many factors and ranges from 20 to 90 thousand euros.
  • Each gondola has its own number and registration, as any car, and its distinctive features that allow the owner easily recognize its boat from hundreds of similar ones. It is almost impossible to steal and remove the gondola from the lagoon, so there are no thefts of these vehicles.

Color of Venetian gondolas

Black was originally associated with the tarring of boats for waterproofing purposes. At one time they were decorated with precious fabrics and gilding, but in 1609 there was a decree restricting luxury, after which the elegant black color returned again. There is a belief that the black image of the gondola was associated with the plague epidemic, as the dead were taken off the island in these very boats. But unitalia.ru will mention a more romantic version – under the cover of night, it was possible to sail in black gondolas to the ladies of the heart almost unnoticed.

gondolas in venice, venetian gondolas

Where to Find a Venetian Gondola

Parking lots are located along the Venetian canals. They are especially plentiful near Venice’s major tourist spots, such as the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, etc. Gondoliers can offer their services directly at the pier or approach groups of tourists.

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It is advisable to clarify the cost of the ride in advance, as the officially established rates may vary depending on the route, duration of the trip, time of day, song performance, after all. By the way, the gondolier can sing for free on his own initiative if he is in a good mood or wants to make a special impression on his passengers. It depends on your luck.

gondola venice, venetian gondola

How much does it cost to ride the gondola?

The fixed cost of a standard gondola ride, regardless of the number of tourists:

  • 80 euros – 30 minutes during the day;
  • 100 euros – 30 minutes after 19:00.

An additional order of a singer-musician will cost 120 euros, the boat to the hotel – 20-40 euros, the itinerary according to the customer’s desire – plus 30-50 euros.

Remember, if you don’t like the price or if you feel that it is clearly overpriced, don’t agree to the trip. There are tourists who pay up to 150-200 euros for a ride, but that doesn’t mean you have to give the same amount. There are many gondolas in Venice, so you can always try to negotiate a price or talk to a few gondoliers. Although bargaining is unlikely during the season. But there is a way out either way.

gondola, venetian gondola


The best option is to book the gondola on a special website. With prices here everything is stable and transparent, you can make an order for a certain time, so plan a walk around the city will be much more convenient.

We offer several options for a walk along the canals of Venice. Prices are presented per person or per boat. There is also a tour of the historic San Trovaso shipyard.

A few tips

A beautiful gondola and a pleasant gondolier will make a walk through the canals of Venice more disposable and enjoyable.

  • Try to take the gondola away from the main sights. For example, Campo Santa Sofia or Campo Santa Maria dei Miracoli.
  • If the phone slips out of your hands and accidentally falls into the water do not jump for it. First, it is useless – it will drown anyway, and secondly, it is dangerous.
  • Enjoy a stroll through the Venetian canals, and not look at the scenery solely through the camera. In person, the experience is far more intense!
  • Let the gondolier help you board and disembark the boat. Be careful and attentive.
  • If you take the gondola at the Rialto Bridge or near Piazza San Marco, know that the ride may be five minutes shorter.
  • If the gondolier does not sing himself, you can not make him do it without persuasion. And if you offer to pay for the song, he may even take offense, saying that he is not a clown. The song is the mood and soul of the gondolier.
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gondola in venice, venetian gondola

A real gondola in the store

There’s a surprisingly colorful bookstore in Venice called Libreria Acqua Alta. It uses a real gondola as one of its counters. You can get here both from the street side and from the canal side – gondolas often stop at the entrance at the request of passengers.

San Trovaso Gondola Workshop

One of the oldest active shipyards in Venice is located in the Dorsoduro area. It was founded in the seventeenth century and was intended to repair and build different kinds of boats, but today only gondolas are made here. There are guided tours for organized groups where you can learn and see how gondolas are made. The secrets of the craft have been handed down from generation to generation for centuries.

gondola in venice, venetian gondola

The gondola yard of San Trovaso is a few steps away from the Giudecca Canal. Nearby is the church of San Trovaso, consecrated in the name of the martyrs Gervasius and Protasius. Here you can see the famous paintings of Tintoretto’s father and son, as well as a small inscription on the altar depicting a gondola, which mentions squeraroli (boat masters in the Venetian dialect).

It’s not hard to get here. The Zattere vaporetto stop is a short walk away, on the Zattere promenade (formerly the promenade of the Incurable, once made famous by J. Brodsky), where routes 2, 6, 5.1, 5.2 are docked.

Discover the enchanting canals of Venice with a gondola ride through the most picturesque part of the city! An unforgettable experience in the most romantic city.

How to save on hotels

You can and should look for hotels not only on bookings! Italy for Italian lovers recommends Hotellook, which will help you find and compare many hotel rentals on several booking sites at once!

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the gondola in the store?

The Libreria Acqua Alta bookstore uses the gondola as a counter and shelf for books

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How do I ride the gondola?

You need to walk up to the gondola pier or pre-book your ticket online

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