When people hear ‘Venice’, they often think, ‘gondola’. Considering them the normal transportation for Venice is a bit of a misconception. Normally people travel around by water taxi, water bus, or boat; similarly, to how people in most cities would use taxis, buses, or cars/trucks. Gondolas are really a traditional item left over as a tourist draw. In this sense, I consider them similar to rickshaws, called jinrikisha (人力車), in Japan; which are normally seen around certain temples in Kyoto or Nara. Likewise, both of these modes of transportation carry high costs.
Twenty years ago I took an overnight trip to Venice while working in Sicily. At that time, I heard the price and flatly refused to ride in one. As a matter of fact, I would say you wouldn’t catch me dead in one… unless I was on a honeymoon. Here we are being escorted around by Eros, recommended by Leslie of Genninger Studio. He gave us a 45 minute tour that kept to relatively small and unoccupied canals, but gave us a taste of tour by swinging past Maria Callas’ opera house and Mozart’s lodgings.
Gondoliers are a select group and are highly skilled. They maneuver narrow canals, sometimes barely wider than two boats. I have never seen their boats touch each other nor any walls or bridges. Their feet, however, will touch all manner of pylons, ledges, or even walls. I have seen some step completely off their boat in motion, leaving one momentarily wondering if they are setting the passengers adrift.
Water taxi drivers are also similarly skilled and given time in September, I may upload some shots ducking under bridges.
I’ll take a moment here to talk about the fact that Venice is sinking. When I was a schoolboy, we often heard tales about how Venice would soon be gone as buildings submerged and collapsed. Growing up knowing the history of Underground Seattle, it was not hard to fathom such a thing; however, the exaggeration was apparently the fault of one vocal person and a lot of wild imaginations.
Reportedly the nominal rate of sinking is 1 millimeter per year, which is one centimeter every decade, or ten centimeters in a century. Perhaps we will be able to visit Venice again in the future. My same school teachers insisted that the seas would rise horribly due to global warming but, decades later, the beaches and tides don’t really seem so different.
It is true that during high tidal seasons, various buildings and squares have ‘issues’.