The Gondola

One of the main attractions of Venice is without a doubt the gondola. It is only by water that you can discover canals and views of Venice that are not accessible on foot.

Features of Gondolas

A tour of Venice on a typical gondola boat is a must-do if you are visiting this beautiful city. This special boat is considered the real symbol of Venice, and it is unique of its kind. It is 11m (36ft) long and weights 600kg (1322lb). The gondolas are easy to handle (this is the reason why they are “light” boats), and they are steered by a single gondolier with a single oar.

Did you know that a gondola is built with 8 different types of wood? They are oak, fir, elm, walnut, cherry-wood, linden, mahogany, and larch. Also, the boat is made up of 280 parts. There are only 2 parts made of iron: fero di prora and risso di poppa. Fero means iron, originally this part was meant to counterweight the gondolier, and was a decorative element. This part is called also rostrum, and its shape is a famous symbol of Venice: the curved top represents the Doge’s hat, its S shape represents the Grand Canal, and the 6 prongs represent the six districts (sestieri) of Venice. The last prong, pointing to the center of the boat, represents the Giudecca island.


In the collective imagination, gondoliers always wear a striped shirt, dark trousers, and the famous straw hat. But did you know that this famous outfit is relatively recent? It is linked to the movie “Venezia, la luna e tu”, in which Alberto Sordi plays the role of a charming gondolier.

The gondolier is an ancient job, and to do it a particular preparation is necessary. To become a gondolier, you must attend a special school first, and pass a final exam then. Gondoliers study the history of Venice and foreign languages. They guard many secrets and peculiarities of this magnificent city.