Gondola & Venice: little ‘secrets’ on the venetian gondola

The gondola is a symbol of Venice. What it would be the amazing sight from the old palaces reflecting on the Canal Grande or the enchantment of the canals at sunset without the gondolas? However, do you know how the gondole of Venezia are built, their history and their peculiarities? If not, keep on reading…

So, what is a gondola? The venetian gondola is the only boat in the world with an asymmetric hull. It is typical of the venetian lagoon and it has been created as a mean of transportation. Through the centuries, the gondole become a special mark of the Venezia upper and noble classes which were used to show, through the richness and the beauty of their gondolas, all their power and economic status.

The Venetian gondola is 10,87 meters long and 1,5 meter large. It is made by 280 pieces of wood and it weights 400 kilos. When you look to this very special kind of boat, you will notice that the left side is larger than the right one: we talk about 20 centimeters of difference but this gap is necessary to give to the boat the right balance. The gondole of Venezia has only one oar which is connected to the boat by the so called ‘forcola’. The forcola sometimes shows very nice engravings and nowadays it is very appreciated also as a decorative object.

As far as steering is concerned, the gondoliere steers by standing at the bottom of the boat and he must be very skillful since, with only one oar, he must do anything is needed: even the stop when a quick reaction is needed!!! To get the necessary balance and to master the technique, a gondoleer needs to learn and train since the youngest age.

The gondola is built in the so called ‘squeri’ which today in Venice are only six. To make a gondola, as a matter of fact, is very difficult and it implies experience, skills, good knowledge of wood and materials and a lot of time (very rare ingredients nowadays!!). However, if you want to get a real hint of the venetian everyday life and to see where the gondola in Venice are made, do not miss a visit to the squero of Giudecca, Castello and Dorsoduro… it will be an ever lasting memory!




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