Romantic Magnificent Gondolier on his Beautiful Gondola
Venice is at risk! Venice is sinking at an alarming rate! Venetians are leaving the city! So, to go on a Gondola ride with a Gondolier, a tradition which has been taught down the generations, but which is now a dying skill, is to participate in Venetian history by becoming part of history, as Gondolas may not be around that much longer. That is why this photograph is so here and now, precious and frozen in time.
Close your eyes. Let me transport you to “La Serenissima” (the most serene or sublime) world’s oldest tourist and cultural center in the world, the world’s most romantic city for every man and woman and one which young people romantically dream of - VENICE. Words cannot do Venice justice. Nothing on earth can compare to this beautiful, historical city, which is also environmentally and architecturally unique and absorbing, made up of more than 100 small islands in the blue-green waters of the awe-inspiring, Venetian Lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, full of secrets and romance, where people from all over the globe come to admire its greatness.
Venice is the epitome of Romance and old world charm. Nothing represents the spirit of Romance and Venice quite like the Gondola and its Gondolier, giving you the ultimate ride of a lifetime, which is a very special and beautiful experience, affording timeless elegance and grace. It is undeniably a Venetian tradition that you will never want to miss out on.
Casanova was born in Venice in 1725 and went down in the history books as one of the most famous lovers ever.
The Gondoliers, a great success, was an Opera with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert.
“If I were not King of France, I would choose to be a citizen of Venice” - Henry III
Venice, a unique and evocative city, which can leave you bewitched, could easily be seen by some as utter madness to have been built here, on stilts, in the water, however the city became elegant and grand and it picked up famous names such as the City of Canals, the Floating City, Queen of the Adriatic, City of Water and City of Bridges.
I was utterly consumed with Venice, when I visited in late 2019, a popular Honeymoon destination, with the fervor of love wafting all around me.
There is absolutely nothing more beautiful than a romantic Gondola ride, on this elegant craft, through the beautiful, breathtaking, meandering canals of Venice.
Gondolas were historically associated with the canals and lagoons of Venice and their pilots were in constant proximity to noble passengers and many secrets of the city’s illicit affairs. They gave passage to romance-inducing rides and were absolutely essential to the Venetians. Casanova would have used Gondolas.
The words Gondola and Gondolier come from the Rhaetian Gondola, meaning “to rock or roll”.
A Gondolier pilots a 32 foot long, shiny black varnished, flat-bottomed, thin wooden boat, that has been made entirely by hand and can carry two to six passengers. The Gondola curves slightly, to the right, being rowed with only one oar, this is compensation to allow the vessel to travel in a straight line, with the ends of the Gondola projecting high out of the water, allowing the boat to be maneuvered precisely and quickly. Gondolas have been in operation since the 11th Century, when they traveled up and down the canals of Venice. All Gondolas are built to 11 meters long and 600 kg in woodworking shops called squero. There were 10,000 opulent gondolas in operation in the 1600’s and now only around 400 licensed operational Gondolas remain, offering iconic, indulgent rides.
This is one of the hardest photographs to get ever. I spent days trying to get it. There are normally thousands of tourists and the Gondolas just never stop moving and some tourists have the disappointment of a once-in-a-lifetime visit to Venice and never being able to get to the front of the queue for a Gondola ride before having to depart the city. I did it! I took a lady, who I was very much in love with, on such a Gondola ride.
At the time of my visit, Venice was in flood and the waters were beginning to subside, but even so there were still plenty of tourists queueing for this wonderful experience.
I had my heart set on capturing the lone Gondolier on his beautiful single Gondola, so much so, that I tried capturing the moment on my camera for a whole week. I followed the Gondolas everywhere I could. I raced down the Grand Canal, hearing the splash of water breaking on the banks and the cries of the the Gondoliers. I could hear the hum of passing Vaporetto (water buses) and there were boatloads of loud, cheerful, tourists, eagerly awaiting their turn on a Gondola, with sunlight dancing off the crests of the waves from passing boats. I followed them into the off-shoot, narrow canals, as I wanted to get a quieter, more charming, fairy-tale, image. The quiet backwaters are definitely more romantic, with gorgeous, rustic bridges, arching gracefully over emerald water, creating calm relaxing reflections and it gave me a warm glow inside to witness these scenes of love, in this explosive city of passion.
This Gondolier, in my photograph, is wearing the traditional uniform of black pants, blue striped shirt, and a wide-brimmed straw hat. Historically, the striped shirts were worn for safety reasons, because if a man fell overboard he would be spotted in the water.
Suddenly, after a long week of searching out my best image location, I spied (or that is, I heard him first!) this very jolly, proud-looking, handsome, young, Gondolier, who had just set down his tourists near a Gelato (Ice-cream) shop and was standing firm and tall, propelling and steering impeccably, his gleaming, black Gondola, just about to steer under a bridge whilst moving on to pick up his next job. I was at the canal side, in an elevated position. I could smell the salt water in the canal and I was excited!
Finally! My moment! The shot that certain magazines seek for their front covers. It is really difficult to capture this image, as the Gondoliers never stay still as they are intent on making their fortune in Euros and are always constantly, busily, moving on the waterways, from dawn until night time. The Gondolier skims the canals in his flat bottomed boat, sometimes with only inches to spare, and he uses a long handled oar to propel his boat with a forward stroke followed by a compensating back stroke. Always moving along these crowded canals, competing with boats of various sizes traversing the waterways. Never motionless.
This particular Gondolier drew my attention and held my gaze.
He was singing at the top of his voice, filling the air with harmonious notes, dressed in traditional Gondolier attire, with his attractive, colored, paddles, and my camera lens was aimed directly downwards on him and his Gondola. This was it! The photo opportunity I had been waiting for all week!
The Gondolier’s voice, now raised in song, echoed down the cobbled streets. This Gondolier was obviously very happy this day. Or maybe it was the fact that lunch-time was approaching and he was looking forward to eating some cichetti (meaning little or nothing) small plates of a broad range of dishes.
The Gondolas differ in comforts, in the form of beautiful, colorful pillows and blankets and this one particularly caught my eye. This Gondolier and his Gondola was truly magnificent, and what my vision had been all along. It was stunning in fact.
Then! In an instant - he had disappeared under that Venetian bridge, but I had captured a beautiful, frozen in time, image.
Ensure that when you visit Venice you do ride on a Gondola, it is what amazing memories are made of.
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