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.
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