A gondola ride in Venice is an absolute must, allowing you to experience the city in an unparalleled way… slowly, from a low vantage point, gliding along the narrow canals and looking up at the expanse of churches and beautiful, ancient buildings. “Like biscuits in tea,” one gondolier explained of the crumbling structures. A gondola ride may seem touristy/kitschy, but it is the perfect way to experience this magical city. It’s also a very peaceful way to see the city without battling your way through the massive crowds.
During our special trip, when Mama was struggling with the overwhelming heat, the teeming crowds and the jetlag, we decided to treat ourselves to a gondola ride. Besides a birthday gondola ride in Oakland’s Lake Merritt, this was a first for each of us, and it reminded us why we had come so far and struggled to get there. As we glided through the narrow canals, listening to the gondolier tell the story of a floating city, we fell in love with Venice all over again.
When you become curious about the cute gondoliers and the history of the gondola boat, pick up Kathleen Ann Gonzalez’s wonderful book “Free Gondola Ride, A summer with the men behind the mystery.”
If you’re going to Venice… find a trusted gondolier like the adorable Giovannini (first recommended to us through a friend, and mostly working at the Servizio Gondola station in front of the Danieli Hotel) to give you a tour. Gondola ride rates increase at sunset, but that’s also when more mosquitoes come out, so beware. Just before sunset makes a great time for stunning photographs, but do put the camera down and enjoy the views without a lens as well. Lastly, check the weather forecast beforehand so you don’t get caught out in the rain or blazing heat.