Ancient Imposter

Yesterday I arrived in Venice for a 5 1/2 week stay, so my posts will feature lots of current on-the-ground stuff for a while. Here’s a find from yesterday.

This gondola was moored in the Rio de Noal, near San Felice in Cannaregio. It’s a traghetto gondola made up to look like a gondola from about the sixteenth century. Notice the ferro is not the usual tall rounded style that you see today; these smaller spikes were more common back then, and the standard ferro didn’t come into style until the late 1800s. (Since I’m in Venice, I’m sorry I don’t have access to all my usual books and notes to look up the correct details. Maybe Gondola Greg or another of my readers can provide the exact details for us!) Notice also the gondola has a felze, the little cloth-covered cabin, like from olden days. These were often covered with raffia (reeds) in olden days, or fancier gondolas had a wooden cabin. Cloth ones like this were also more common about 100 years ago, before the gondola became just a tourist vehicle with people who want to see the sights, not travel out of the direct sun.

They used some of these gondolas in Dangerous Beauty and other films set in Venice. I wonder how this woman got ahold of it? Maybe the were sold after the filming?


About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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7 Responses to Ancient Imposter

  1. Hi Kathleen,
    This gondola was probably reconstructed thanks to the research of Carlo Donatelli and Giovanni Caniato, as well as numerous visual sources (paintings, prints, relief sculpture) from the late 1400s onward. Some years ago a couple of prow forks (ferri) dating probably to the 1600s were pulled from the canal waters, and today they are in the Museo Correr. They look awfully similar to the ones on this boat.

    Enjoy your time in Venice!
    –Laura Morelli
    Laura Morelli, Ph.D., author of The Gondola Maker and Made in Italy

    • Thank you so much for sharing this information. I’ll look for the ferri when I go to the Correr. They have some lovely ferri in the Museo Storico Navale, too. I’ve always enjoyed seeing the different depictions of the gondola from ancient times, so it was jarring to see one floating in the canal yesterday.
      I’m also going to look for your books!

  2. Vonda Wells says:

    I am SO jealous that you are there and I am not!! But, I’ve got something in the works. I may see you in Venice after all, until then I will look forward to your posts from Venice. Re-posting this one tomorrow!! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!

  3. Nancy Schwalen says:

    I didn’t realize that the gondolier was a woman. Do you know if the gondola was for purely personal use? The spikes on the ferro are impressive – not sureI’d want that accidentally backing in to me.

    Enjoy your trip.

  4. Good question–When I first saw the gondola, there were three kids hanging out in it. Later, I was in a palace (ooh, it’s fun to say that!) and looked out the window just in time to see the woman get in and pull away from the fondamenta. Seeing the kids made me think it was for personal use. This mooring isn’t too far from my apartment, so maybe I’ll see her again and can ask for details.

  5. lizbert1 says:

    Great post thanks! And I’m in Venice too so will look out for the gondola and gondoliera(?) over the next few weeks along with your posts on local life! Feel free to check mine out too and let me know if you fancy a coffee!! Saluti! Lizzie

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