#1 Guide to A Safe Venice Gondola Ride

#1 Guide to Gondola Ride
Did you know 2 tourists died at the crowded Venice waterway in 2018?

Don't be worried as we are here to share some precautions to take while still enjoying your ride.

A gondola ride in Venice is ranked as one of the most dreamed-about experiences for tourists or travelers.

It is an outstanding experience if you get the chance to enjoy a gondola ride. Though a gondola ride is not cheap, it can be very expensive but the fun you get will keep you wow.

Water and Gondola Accidents

As covered by the news, 2 friends were killed when their small fishing boat was struck Friday night by a jet boat carrying four passengers in their twenties. This was not the first time in the crowded waterway. Mr. Gavagnin was thrown out and found dead hours later. Mr. Rossi fought for his life waiting for medics but died after being finally transported to Venice’s hospital.  

In 2013 and covered by the news, a victim, Mr. Joachim Vogel, 50, was taking a tour with his wife and three children on 17 August when the gondola was crushed against a dock by a reversing water bus. The man, unfortunately, was crushed while the rest of her family were thrown into the water by the force of the collision.

In 2011, four Spanish tourists were thrown into the water after their gondola was hit by the wake of a motorboat. They were quickly rescued.

In 2004, a family of Dutch tourists was also thrown into a canal.

Lessons From the Accidents

Given all these accidents, do you still wish to take a Gondola ride? If you do, then you should learn from the lessons about accidents.

  1. The root cause of fatal accidents is a human error by the driver of another boat (e.g. motorboat or water bus),
  2. You will get thrown off your boat when hit,
  3. No gondola will have safety vests (water bus have), and
  4. Even if you know how to swim, it will not help if you are injured.

Cannot imagine how being thrown off a boat is like? Below is a video of how you can be thrown off when swerving at high speed.

About Gondola

A gondola is a wooden boat that is flat in nature and is about 11 meters long. It is usually hand-made, created, and maintained in a special workshop called Squeri. The driver of gondola requires a license and is called Gondoliers owned and maintained their boats. It often passed down from generation to generation. 

Why are gondolas black?

If you are observant, you will notice that most of the gondolas in Venice are all blacks. There was a consumption law in Venice that required the gondolas to be painted black, and they are customarily so painted black now. Others rumored that the Venice's gondolas are painted black to mourn those who died in the horrible plague. Another rumor is that it was due to the pitch used to waterproof the hull.

How many gondoliers in Venice?

There are around 400 gondoliers in services now. This is a pale comparison to the 10,000 gondoliers in the early Middle Ages at the beginning of the 14th century (numbers from Rick Steve's site). The huge numbers of 10,000 in the past were because horses were outlawed from the streets of Venice and  the noble class embraced gondolas as a respectable form of transportation

Why do gondola drivers wear stripes?

All gondola drivers wear striped tees in Venice. The simple reason is they belong to the guild and wear the striped tees like a uniform. Some it follows the French Navy tradition where stripes were a typical shirt worn by men on ships. If you are lucky you might find some wearing the red-striped tees which usually happened during the summer.

What is the gondola stick called?

While driving the light gondola seems easy, it requires technique in using the gondola stick. The gondola stick is also called a forcola or oarlock. The forcola is a piece of art, stylized with a curve and bent like a boomerang unlike a normal boat stick. 

Price of Gondola Ride

When taking a gondola ride in Venice, there is a need to consider the price before embarking on such a journey. This prepares you the amount of money you need to spend and is paramount to spend within your budget.

Gondola standard fare is around 80 euro and 100 euro during day time and night. The standard fare covers about 40 minutes’ drive, with extra charges for any additional minutes or hours. Also if you are to book a gondola ride through an agency or hotel, you pay more. Sometimes, small dogs are allowed free of charge.

There are extra surcharges you are expected to pay:

  • Timing fee - Some agency charge more after certain timing, e.g. from 6 pm onwards at 20 more euros,
  • Music and singer in your gondola - Do you want to see a gondolier sing? You can have a romantic ride in a gondola by getting a singing gondolier and music and it will cost you around 60 more euros,

How do I get a cheap gondola ride in Venice?

You have 2 options to get a cheap gondola ride. Both cheap options require you to share. The first option is to find others to share the cost of the entire ride at the expense of having any privacy and needing to squeeze. The second and cheapest option to experience a gondola-like ride is to get onto the ferries by Traghetto, which is public transport.

How do you get a private gondola in Venice?

To book a private gondola for a tourist, we recommended booking one online. It is simpler nowadays and that is also the only way to use a credit card to pay a gondolier. They don't accept credit card for the ride and only takes euros.

What to Expect in Your Ride

You should be prepared for the expected and also unexpected scenario. The gondola ride is fun and awesome, it is like a luxury car touring the Grand Canal. Some gondola has fine unique seats, with a blanket for your comfort. It is mainly black in colors. Some gondoliers are conversant with the English language, while others speak French and German. They liked to put on a striped shirt, black shoes, and black pants. The gondola ride is always unique, most especially the feel of early morning soft light and cool temperature.

Random fact: Did you also know in August 2010, Ms. Giorgia Boscolo became Venice's first fully licensed female gondolier?

How long is the gondola ride?

The length of the gondola ride depends on your journey and whether it was a complete trip. At times, it could end as early as 10 minutes if the water are choppy and unsuitable. A complete gondola ride could be as long as 40 minutes slowly throughout the Venice canals. It depends on the gondolier too.

 

Where to Get Gondola

Besides booking online, you can also decide where to ride on the spot. Riding on canals outside the main tourist areas makes you view Venice from a different perspective.

Some alternative places to avoid crowd other than the always crowded Grand Canal on a gondola ride are San Polo and Campo San Barnaba areas. Ensure you choose a gondola stop in the area you want to visit. Just take a walk away from San Marco to search for a gondolier. There are beautiful neighborhoods you can explore without stress.

Conclusion

Before you commence a gondola ride, you need to ask yourself this question. Is a Gondola ride for me? This will define your decision. The gondola ride is fun and it is an outstanding experience. It gives you the privilege to see Venice and explore different parts. You must ensure the ride falls within your budget and time. Cheers and have a fun-filled ride.

 


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Sky Hoon
Italy Lover. He travel to Europe a few times and loved Italy for its unique language and culture. He loved the idea of Italian food focusing on original taste of the ingredient.
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