Gondoliers of Venice

Venice is famous for its canals lined with gondolas, making a trip through this town truly isn’t complete without taking one for a spin on one of these beautiful canals.

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The exact roots of the word ‘gondola’ remain obscure, although its roots could possibly lie with the Greek term for small boats known as ‘koundoura’; its first boats believed to have existed as early as the 11th Century. Venice boats were purpose-built for use in its canals and lagoons, featuring flat bottoms that allowed for ease of navigation in narrow canals. If you love boats of all kinds, why not consider taking a Day Skipper Course from www.solentboattraining.co.uk/rya-sailing-courses/rya-day-skipper-practical-sailing

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Modern-day vessels are still constructed to these specifications – each is created individually. These boats feature a uniform design weighing 400kg, consisting of around 280 pieces crafted from 8 different wood species such as elm, lime, larch, oak, fir, cherry mahogany and walnut. Furthermore they’re all painted black. Due to a law passed in the 16th Century that required all gondolas be painted black, as part of an anti-competition measure, nobility could not vie with one another for who could build the most elaborate ornate boat. As a result, now all boats feature three decorations; curly tail, multi-pronged prow, and pair of seahorses adornments.

Gondolas are propelled with an oar made from beech wood and a rowlock made of walnut. Together these pieces allow the vessel to move in eight distinct directions.

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The prow on the front of a boat is designed to protect wood should a collision occur between it and another boat or part of the canal, such as one made of iron, brass, aluminium or stainless steel. Furthermore, its purpose also serves as a counterweight in order to balance out gondolier weight on board; typically six prongs represent six administrative districts within Venice.