The gondola and the city of Venice are inextricably linked. The boat is shaped to fit through the city’s narrow canals and low footbridges, and the city is built to be traveled by a boat such as this. Like a canoe, it has a flat bottom, but it is narrower and longer, and rowed standing up with an oar.
It takes about two months to build a gondola, and it takes a lot of specialized knowledge to make it. The oar is held in place by an oarlock called a forcola, which is unique to this style of rowing. The iron prow at the head provides a counterbalance to the weight of the gondolier. Its curved shape represents the hat of the Doge and the six teeth underneath represent each of the six neighborhoods of the city.
Up until the early 20th century, gondolas were only owned privately. Unlike the ones you’ll see in the canals today, they were equipped with a small cabin that would provide privacy. One of the last people to use this style of boat was actually the eccentric art collector and heiress Peggy Guggenheim, who lived in Venice for the last decades of her life. Since then, they’ve been almost exclusively used by tourists, and the industry is tightly controlled by a gondoliers’ guild that allows a limited number of licenses.
The profession is historically passed between the men of the family, but recently this tradition was broken by Giorgia Boscolo, the daughter of a gondolier, who attained her license in 2010. The transgender gondolier Alex Hai also became a part of this profession after a long and protracted struggle of many years, in a fascinating story that reveals how gender and masculinity operate within this extraordinary tradition. Though almost nobody would use the gondola for transportation today, the boat and its boatsmen (and woman) are still, in many ways, at the center of a uniquely Venetian culture.
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.