I have read about the recent floods in Venice, and it reminded me of the time when I was there last April.
Even though it was quite cold, being early spring, the weather was nice so I walked around for hours. I saw so many of these gondolas on the Grand Canal, and since I couldn’t get a ride in one, I had to content myself with taking pictures after pictures of them and their gondoliers.
The wooden gondola is a quintessential Venetian image, and were I more well-heeled, I would definitely take a ride in one. As a backpacker on a really tight budget, though, I couldn’t imagine forking out €80 or so for a 40-minute ride.
(Incidentally, do you think being a gondolier is easy? To be one, you need to undergo a lot of training. You must pass a comprehensive exam to prove your knowledge on Venetian history and landmarks, as well as pass a foreign language test. You must also pass a practical exam before you can be given a license! Whew!)
I have heard so much about the beauty of the Grand Canal that instead of going broke on the gondola, I took the much-less expensive option: a public water bus (vaporetto) that goes from the Santa Lucia railway station (where all visitors arrive) all the way to Piazza San Marco. The one-way trip (I walked back to Santa Lucia) took around 25 minutes and cost only €6.50.
If you’re planning to stay longer than a day in Venice, though, better get a day pass or the 3-day travel pass. It will be very much worth it. However, the best way of seeing Venice is still on foot.
If I could have gotten cheap flights to Italy from Belgium, I would have come back to stay longer, especially to participate or even just observe the carnival in Venice. Spending just one day in the City of Water is definitely not enough!
Have you ever taken a ride in the Venetian gondola? If given the chance to go there, would you?