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Gondolas and gondoliers in Venice

 


gondolas and gondoliers in Venice

@itravelinitaly_com The gondola is a very special boat.  It is asymmetrical and can be operated with a single propeller oar.

 Measure m.  10.85 in length per m.  1.40 approximately in width.  It weighs 350 kg.  and is made up of about 280 pieces of wood of different nature.

 The iron of the prow of the gondolas, called 'fero da pròra' or 'dolfin', serves to balance the weight of the gondolier.

 Under the main blade it has a kind of comb formed by six teeth (prongs) which have the precise meaning of remembering the 'sestieri' (= six zones) with which Venice is divided.  A tooth extends backwards (towards the center of the gondola) and indicates the island of Giudecca, separated from the homonymous canal from the other islands of Venice which form a compact nucleus.

 Sometimes three friezes are inserted between the six prongs that join the prongs two by two, indicating the three bridges over the Grand Canal: the Scalzi bridge (Santa Lucia), the Rialto bridge and the Accademia bridge.

 The most valuable piece, so much so that it is considered a true work of art, is the 'forcola', the support for the oar that can assume different positions depending on the maneuver or propulsion.


 Building a gondola is a very difficult work, all by hand with a completely irrational and asymmetrical design, it requires a great deal of experience.

 Maneuvering a gondola is just as difficult.

Don't be fooled by the ease and elegance with which gondoliers steer that extremely functional boat for narrow canals and shallow waters, a single oar is the ideal and ingenious solution.

 Maneuvering a gondola is a difficult variant of Venetian rowing.  You push the oar forward while standing, you have to work with the legs and pelvis and push the arms forward, at the same time you need particular (and tiring) rotations of the wrist to always keep the oar in the water, both for the propulsive effect and both  to direct and balance the boat.

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