The gondola is unquestionably the most famous Venetian craft, and it is intertwined with Venice's history. Let's see what there is to know about gondolas, and how to plan a gondola ride in Venice.
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The gondola's flat-bottomed design is suited for navigating the shallow waters of the canals and the lagoon. It is propelled by one man, the gondolier, who uses one long oar leaning on a singular oarlock called forcola. It's about 11 meters long and asymmetrical (the left side is wider than the right) to allow one person to steer it.
In the past, gondolas were used as a means of public transportation. Today, however, locals take advantage of the more efficient and cheaper water bus network, leaving the distinctive black boats to the use of visitors. Regardless, a gondola ride in Venice is an irreplaceable way to get to know the city from a unique perspective.
The local law regulates everything that has to do with gondola operations. The Municipality grants only gondolier licenses to those who have passed dedicated courses and exams. The number of of crafts in operation can't exceed a fixed quota. Finally, the fares are established by local regulations. For up to 6 people, a 30-minute tour costs €80 from 9 am to 7 pm, while from 7 pm to 3 am, a 35-minute tour costs €100. There are ten jetties around the city, but we do suggest the less prominent in order to avoid queues and enjoy the small canals, like those in Santa Maria del Giglio, Santa Sofia or San Marcuola.
If you are more of a planner, you can book a tour in advance on websites like venetoinside.com or venezia.net, which start at a fare €33 per person (you will share the boat with others). Private tour prices vary from €105 to over €200, depending on the duration, the time of the day, and add-on services (such as live music or a candlelit dinner).
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Now, if you think that a ride is expensive, we have to agree. Nonetheless, you can enjoy a short gondola ride for only €2 by taking one of the so-called traghetti da parada. This is a bigger gondola operated by two gondoliers that cross back and forth the Grand Canal in five points, namely some areas quite distant from one of the four bridges over the canal.
You can enjoy a gondola ride in Venice at almost any hour. Simply go and ask gondoliers on the street, or check the website where they offer this service. If you are still unsure of how to book a ride, our locals are here for you.
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