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.
Gondolier – Symbol of Venice
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.
In addition, it allowed me to get even better shots of the Gondola culture in Venice!
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.
If you are interested in purchasing any of these photos, simply click on the photo for more information.
By Mari April 27, 2012 - 7:07 am
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 🙂
By Barbara Weibel April 27, 2012 - 7:45 am
Stunning, Sherry, just stunning. Some of the best photos you’ve ever done! (I might have said that before but these are truly outstanding!)
By Sherry April 27, 2012 - 12:06 pm
Thanks so much Barbara! Practice, practice, practice!
By Laurie April 27, 2012 - 8:51 am
Hi Sherry, I found your blog through Barbara Weibel. It’s lovely and love this post!
By Sherry April 30, 2012 - 9:35 am
Thanks – glad you stopped by!
By A Montrealer Abroad April 27, 2012 - 10:08 am
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.
By Barbara April 27, 2012 - 2:18 pm
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.
By Sherry April 30, 2012 - 9:34 am
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!
By Emilia April 28, 2012 - 2:27 pm
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!
By Sherry April 30, 2012 - 9:34 am
Thanks! Now go dig those Venice photos out!! 🙂
By Mark H April 28, 2012 - 7:37 pm
Wonderful photo essay. I love the dreamy morning photos.
By Chris (Amateur Traveler) April 30, 2012 - 12:04 pm
I always look forward to you photography
By dtravelsround April 30, 2012 - 4:09 pm
By Lauren, Ephemerratic May 23, 2012 - 4:50 pm
I love these photos. My favorite gondolier move was doing the limbo under the low bridges.
By David M October 4, 2012 - 10:18 pm
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.
By Judith C. March 31, 2014 - 2:16 am
Thanks for a virtual visit to one of my favorite cities in the world!
By Laura June 19, 2014 - 2:48 pm
Makes me want to go back to Venice!