Gondola and gondolier: a millennial union
You are visiting Venice, you have traveled so much to calli and campielli, museums and churches. Well, do you know that you've only seen part of this extraordinary city? Oh yes, why don't you forget that Venice is a city on the water and with this lives a relationship of true symbiosis: it is on the water that reveals its best part, the most beautiful glimpses rich in charm and full of atmosphere.
Of course, apart from the Grand Canal and some other larger canals, the rest of the waterways are not passable by vaporetto but only with small boats. So how do you do it? The solution is a nice gondola ride: caressed by the rustling of the wind, pampered by sunny days or illuminated by the moonlight, it is one of the most incredible experiences you can live, because it is right to underline that Venice is the only city in the world where you can take a gondola ride. And it's also very, very romantic!
The gondola, born from time immemorial, was the only means of transport in the Lagoon. Its elongated and sinuous line glides over the waters masterfully governed by the gondolier standing on the stern, one of the most emblematic figures of the city. Almost a monument to be immortalized in a photograph, the gondoliers constitute one of the most ancient corporations in Italy, whose trade is handed down from generation to generation, the only ones to know deeply all the secrets of the Venice of yesterday and today, stone by stone . Recognizable with their unmistakable clothing, a striped t-shirt and a straw hat, with a pronounced Venetian accent, they will be ready to accompany you on this incredible gondola-tour and act as a special tour guide: you will be captivated by their mastery, by the ease with the which they manage to lower to pass even under the lower bridges, and surprised by the strong call "ohè" with which they warn other gondoliers when turning into a very narrow stream in order to avoid clashes.
But where do we meet them? Where are they taking us?
Let me have the time to wear the striped shirt and the hat and I'll reveal the secrets of the best gondola ride.
Ready to come with me?
The best gondola ride: how and when, to each his own
Going by gondola to Venice doesn't just mean taking a ride in the Grand Canal but also settling in the unique heart of this city, discovering its deepest intimacy.
Usually the gondola rides follow a common format, regardless of the starting point: the itinerary allows you to enter the most hidden canals, then includes a passage in the Grand Canal and one under a famous bridge.
But how to choose what ride to do? Well, that depends on where you decide to start your tour. Around the city there are so many docking points that are called stazes, some very central, others more hidden: it is from here that navigation begins.
If you arrive by train you could start your tour from the Santa Lucia station or at the foot of the Ponte degli Scalzi: from here the gondolier will accompany you to the most intimate areas of the city, in silent places out of the daily bustle, along the Sesteire of Santa Croce or that one of Cannaregio passing through the wonderful Jewish Ghetto, to finally arrive in the Grand Canal.
If you are near Piazza San Marco, you could discover what were the mansions of Mozart and Goethe, then get to the Grand Canal and admire the majesty of its buildings that seem to rise from its waters.
If you are an art lover then start the tour from Punta della Dogana: you will be at the foot of the imposing mass of the Basilica della Madonna della Salute, then you will pass through the famous Guggenheim Museum, the Galleries and the Accademia Bridge, for Palazzo Grassi , to then advance into the most hidden canals and reach the water gate of the Teatro La Fenice and the baroque Church of San Moisè.
From Rialto, on the other hand, tours leave for the most lively and cheerful areas, animated by the sounds of everyday life and by the voices of the most authentic Venetian Venetians.
Are you romantic? Then start the tour from the Riva degli Schiavoni and pass under the infamous Ponte dei Sospiri, perhaps in the moonlight, to enter the most hidden areas of the Sestieri di Castello and San Marco.
There are many different places, different tours, each one his own, but know that each of these offers wonderful views of the city, unimaginable views for those who choose to experience the city only on foot: Venice is a city of water and is from water that its mysteries become magic.
How much does it cost to go by gondola?
Few frills, we get straight to the point: going around in a gondola is an absolutely must-do experience, but it's not exactly one of the cheapest things to do in Venice.
Let's start by saying that tours can be private, so you would be alone with friends and relatives, or shared with other tourists. A gondola can however contain a maximum number of 6 passengers.
Generally the price of a gondola ride is around € 80 for 30 minutes. This cost refers to a day tour, between 9.00 am and 7.00 pm. If you prefer an evening / night tour, between 19:00 and 3:00 the price gets higher, reaching € 100 always for 30 minutes.
Whether it is day or night, if you want your gondola ride to last longer you will have to add € 40 for every 20 minutes more, which become € 50 if the ride is nightly.
These prices correspond to a ride, regardless of the number of passengers accommodated in a gondola: either you are in 2 or you are in 6 the cost does not change. This is why sometimes it's better to share the tour with other tourists, so as to lower the cost, without losing charm and magic.
If instead you want to give yourself the suggestion of a very romantic walk among the most hidden canals of Venice accompanied by traditional melodies, then you have to choose the serenade in gondola: a musician will be with you and will brighten your lap playing and singing songs typical of the local tradition and classic Neapolitan, cheerful and joyful that will involve you in a romantic and fun, unforgettable experience. Ideal for marriage proposals that leave you breathless!
In this case the cost is clearly different, around € 40 per person.
The prices are set by the relevant body and therefore should be respected by all gondoliers. But there are always some sneak peeks, you know, and then set times and costs before getting on a gondola.
Staz gondolas: this is where they are
Here is a detailed list of the stations from which to start our tour in Venice:
- DANIELI: Riva degli Schiavoni
- SANTA MARIA DEL GIGLIO: Campiello Traghetto
- SAN TOMA': Calle del Traghetto
- BACINO ORSEOLO: Fondamenta Orseolo
- TRINITA': Calle Larga XXII Marzo, 2091/b
- SANTA SOFIA: Campo Santa Sofia
- SAN MARCUOLA: Salizada del Fontego dei Turchi 1739
- DOGANA : Calle Vallarasso
- CARBON: Riva del Carbon
- FERROVIA: Fondamenta Cossetti
- SANTA MARIA DEL GIGLIO: Calle Traghetto