Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Magical Gondola Ride in Venice

At the impressionable age of 16 I visited Venice on a family trip.  I immediately fell in love with the city and dreamed of coming back.  We didn't take a gondola ride at the time, but I remember watching all of the couples snuggled up and drifting up and down the canals.  It seemed like the most romantic thing in the world.  I knew that someday I would return with my love and take a gondola ride. 

As Matt and I planned our trip to Venice I told him of this dream that I'd been carrying around in that teenage corner of my heart.  He started to say something about the expense, but quickly realized that this was one of those things he just needed to go along with.  And he did.  Without a moment of protest he walked us up to a gondola stand to request a ride.  We even upgraded a bit for the 45 minute ride for 80 euros.   You could not wipe the smile off of my face.  It was everything that I dreamed it would be.

We settled back into the seat with his arm around me and escorted by our trusty stead, we glided through the canals of Venice.  Magic I tell you. 


Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola's have been around for about a thousand years.  Shallow vessels were needed to navigate canals of Venice.  In their heyday, thousands of gondolas crowded the waterways of Venice. 

Gondola Ride in Venice

Today there are about 400 gondolas that mostly cater to tourists.  All of the boats are handmade to a very specific plan and painted black.  There was a time when the nobles tried to outdo each other with more and more garish decorations.  So they nipped that in the bud a few hundred years ago. 

Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola Ride in Venice

Now they are all black and only allowed three flourishes, the ferro or comb on the front, a curly tail in the back and two metal seahorses.  Ours was particularly beautiful and the seahorses were very photogenic, don't you think?

Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola Ride in Venice

The boat is a little lopsided to accommodate the gondolier standing on the back that always rows on the right side of the boat. 

Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola Ride in Venice

The gondoliers are all licensed after an extensive training program and an exam.  They only give out a few new licenses each year.  It's considered a very noble and historical profession.  They're quite a personable lot especially when flashing an Italian smile.  They know their city and are happy to share it. 

Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola Ride in Venice

One thing that would strike us often was how different the city sounded.  No cars!  You can hear people talking and laughing.  The sound of utensils and wine glasses clinking.  The sound of the oars stroking through the water. 

Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola Ride in Venice

The city looks completely different from the red cushioned seat of a gondola.  I didn't want it to end.  It was so beautiful and relaxing. 

Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola Ride in Venice

Our journey ended on the Grand Canal as the sun started to set.  Often when you've had thirty years to build something up in your head like I did, you can be disappointed.  But this was not the case at all.

Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola Ride in Venice

Gondola Ride in Venice

My long-awaited gondola ride with my love was exactly what I dreamed it would be and more.  When I'm old and gray I'll dream about that shiny seahorse that guided me through the magic of Venice. 

Gondola Ride in Venice



I'm completely unapologetic about the gushing.  These are the moments that I travel live for.  I'll take any of them that come my way.  I'm so grateful.  


Have you had a long dreamed of experience that lived up to the hype?


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