Gondolas show up in expected and not-so-expected places.
In May I was in New Orleans and saw this in City Park:
The poor dear had its ferro amputated so it can fit under the bridges. No convenient tides like Venice has to help gondoliers maneuver under the bridges! Plus it helps that Venice was built for gondolas, unlike New Orleans. I didn’t get to meet the gondolier but hear that he lovingly provides glides on the park’s lake.
Last week my friend Marco sent this picture from Utrecht:
No, the prow of this gondola was not amputated, merely the prow of the photo! Marco writes that there are two authentic gondolas in Holland, this being one of them.
A couple weeks ago when I was in Venice, I happened to be passing the squero di San Trovaso, one of the few working boatyards in Venice that still makes gondolas (and the only one that makes them completely by hand, according to Laura Morelli). A worker was just launching this gondola as I passed.
Gondoliers must have their boats serviced about once a year to take off algae and such and then seal them against leaks. This one doesn’t have all the accouterments, so perhaps it was having more extensive work done, or maybe it’s even a newly built one. I wasn’t close enough to tell.
I’m also happy to report that I had the pleasure of my own gondola ride, with friends Karen and David, provided by Massimo, my oldest gondolier friend. (He was a big part of the inspiration for my book Free Gondola Ride.) We started at Maddalena in the Canareggio district as an appetizer, then glided through the quiet canals of Santa Croce for our main course, with the Grand Canal for dessert.
What can I say–gondolas make me pretty happy.