Gondolas – Photo Documentary

Gondol Rialto

A gondolier hops from boat to boat near Rialto Bridge

They are everywhere you look in Venice; you will spot them by their blue stripes and spastic leg movements.  Some of them even have a special song they sing.  However, they are quite rare as only about 400 of them exist in the wild…the wilds of Venice that is.

Gondoliers maneuvering their sleek, black gondolas are the symbol of Venice; the canals are like veins carrying blood to the heart (Rialto Bridge).  Much like being a NYC taxi driver, it’s not easy to become a Venice Gondolier.  The boat is expensive, but even more troublesome is that there are only a few (aprox. 400) licenses provided.  You must pass a test  to even have a chance of getting your license, but very few new licenses are given.  They mainly go to men and they mainly are passed down through a family.

I endlessly wandered the streets and alleys looking for the best vantage points and shots of these striped men and their boats.  However, on this trip I was able to do a little first hand research of the gondoliers.  I took a ride for 20 minutes around the canals and was serenaded by my gondolier, Little John, who also periodically blew me kisses.  I of course loved him.  I watched as he knew just the right time to push off the wall with his foot ensuring we would make it around the corner, while not missing a beat in the tune he was singing.  Gliding through the canals was a peaceful dream and I’m glad I did it at least once in my lifetime.

I have collected all of my best gondola photography taken from Little John’s boat, the bridges, and the walkways so you too can see how the striped men on the water live.

gondolas fog

Foggy mornings make the Gondolas appear even more mystical

gondola parking

Gondola parking

gondola crossing

Crossing the canal with locals

paralell parking venice

Parallel Parking

pushing off gondola

Pushing Off - a typical gondola maneuver

gondolier hat

The official uniform

venice canal

The Gondola perspective


Little John at the helm


Gondolas at Rialto Bridge

gondola grand canal

Gondola on the Grand Canal

gondola from above

Gondola from above


If you are interested in purchasing any of these photos, simply click on the photo for more information.


Your Comments

17 Comments so far

  1. Mari says:

    Beautiful pictures!
    I once had the chance to hear a philosopher-gondolier, saying that Venetians nowadays are very selfish.It was quite a vignette.

    Hope you really enjoyed your time :)

  2. Stunning, Sherry, just stunning. Some of the best photos you’ve ever done! (I might have said that before but these are truly outstanding!)

  3. Laurie says:

    Hi Sherry, I found your blog through Barbara Weibel. It’s lovely and love this post!

  4. So beautiful. One my favorite photo essays so far! I really hope I can make it to Venice one day. I’m not that psyched by Italy in general but Venice did grab my attention.

  5. Barbara says:

    I didn’t realize only 400 licenses are given out. That’s so interesting! I wonder if there are gondoliers who do it “under the table” so to speak. I also wonder how many rides they can give in a day. Seems like very hard work.

    Fascinating. Thanks!

    • Sherry says:

      I can’t imagine anyone would be able to do it without a license as the others may ‘rat’ on them. But who knows. I also heard rumor that the Gondoliers are some of the highest paying jobs on the island!

  6. Emilia says:

    Lovely theme and the pictures are even lovelier…the second one is one the the dreamiest I’ve seen. You’re inspiring me to take the my venetian pics out of the drawer and write a post about it :-)
    Kisses and good luck at the Camino!

  7. Mark H says:

    Wonderful photo essay. I love the dreamy morning photos.

  8. I always look forward to you photography

  9. I love these photos. My favorite gondolier move was doing the limbo under the low bridges.

  10. David M says:

    Nice work Sherri.

    I found Venice a dirty, crumbling sort of place (in a good way, of course) but oh so photogenic. Thanks for reminding me how I need to get back there some day soon with my camera.

    David M

  11. Judith C. says:

    Thanks for a virtual visit to one of my favorite cities in the world!

  12. Laura says:

    Makes me want to go back to Venice!

Share your view

Post a comment