The gondola is perhaps the best-known symbol of Venice. In the sixteenth century, there may have been as many as 10,000 of these long narrow boats plying the canals of Venice, but these days, there are only 450. The bow of the boat is adorned with a ferro, a six-pronged piece of metal. The gondolier rows his single oar by means of an carved wooden oarlock known as a forcola; examples of this have been placed on exhibit in New York's Museum of Modern Art.

1. Rio del Piombo, Castello
2. Rio dei Tedeschi
3. Squero, Rio di Mendicanti, Cannaregio
4. Squero, San Trovaso, Dorsoduro
5. Squero, San Trovaso
6. Rio SS. Apostoli, Cannaregio
7. Grand Canal, Santa Sofia, Cannaregio
8. Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Castello

1. Gondolas and Bridges--Rio del Piombo, Castello
Gondolas are operated by a single boatman, standing, using one oar. They are therefore assymetrical, so as to balance the oarsman, and are designed to navigate very narrow canals and tight spaces. When Venice's bridges were built, they were constructed to a height that would allow a standing gondolier to pass underneath the centers of the bridges. For a passenger, the ride down the canals is punctuated by the many bridges.

2. Gondolas as Display--Rio dei Tedeschi
Gondoliers are very proud of their watercraft, and customize them in the same way as Californians used to do with their vans. Here we have a complete color scheme, where the gondola trim, including a throne-like padded loveseat and furry rugs, matches the gondolier's hat. There is also a traditional gilt flower vase. The boats themselves are painted the traditional black that was mandated in sumptuary laws in the sixteenth century.

This was taken near the Ponte d'Olio, behind the Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

3. Squero on the Rio dei Mendicanti, Cannaregio
This squero, or gondola yard, one of three surviving in Venice, is right across the canal from the large church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo (known as Santi Zanipolo).

4. Squero, San Trovaso, Dorsoduro
This squero is located in the southwestern portion of Venice, and this view is a famous one. Gondola-makers tended to come from the Dolomites, where the best wood was to be found, and their buildings reflect this. The boathouse and adjoining outbuildings, while seemingly out of place in Venice, are good examples of Alpine domestic architecture.

5. Squero, San Trovaso, Dorsoduro
Work on a gondola is underway. All gondolas need frequent repair and upkeep, and are rotated into the shop on a regular schedule.

6. Rio SS. Apostoli, Cannaregio
Here is a water entrance with a reception area outside the house. You are getting a water-level view, so imagine your gondola tying up at the stairs, so that you can climb out and step onto the front porch!

7. Grand Canal: Water Entrance, Cannaregio
This is near the Campo Santa Sofia, on the east side of the canal. Notice how there is almost an anteroom, screened by the columns, for the reception of goods and persons arriving by boat. This entrance, on the Grand Canal, is a bit more elaborate than the ones in back canals.

8. Santa Maria dei Miracoli
This view of the Miracoli is from water level, riding by the north side of the church, which is on a canal. The church is popular for weddings because of its intimate proportions and general elegance, and it is customary for the bridal party to arrive in a gondola.

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