The History of Venice Gondola

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The History of Venice Gondola

Thinking of Venice can not imagine it without the symbol that distinguishes the Gondola. But how many people know the history of this boat so special that is Venice?

storia della gondola
History of the Gondola – Miracolo della Croce caduta nel canale di S.Lorenzo – quadro di Bellini. Fonte: Wikipedia

The gondola has undergone many transformations over the centuries and today’s version is the result of a long process of evolution. The history of the gondola is intertwined with the history of Venice. The first pictures of this boat we can already find them in paintings XV-XVI century, even if the shape appeared to be quite different. In fact, in the context of Bellini’s “Miracle of the Cross fall into the canal of St. Lawrence“, the gondola will appear shorter and less slender than the present, without asymmetrical shapes. It’s just between 1600 and 1700 that the physiognomy of the gondola begins to approach the current one. The stern, but also the bow, appears higher than that of the previous representations and also the shape becomes more elongated. Also aft is added a small platform of support to ensure the balance of the gondolier. During the 800 then the stern and the bow still continue to rise with respect to the surface of the water to improve the maneuverability of the hull. And, in order to improve operations, add in the form of a small gondola symmetry and a further rise in the stern and the bow will be more evident, however, only starting dal’900.


Today, the gondolas are open boats, but until the early ‘900 were equipped with a removable cabin called “fèlze” This is because the gondola in those days, when the population was higher in number than today, constituting the means of transport par excellence. The stay on board during the trips could be quite long and with the winter weather Venetian, rather rigid, the coverage offered shelter to passengers. It is now in disuse, as hampering visibility, hardly seems suitable for the tourist. As for the color of the gondola black is due to the use of the pitch to waterproof the hull and then extended to the entire boat to the decrees of the Venetian Senate (1609), who wanted the elimination of excessive pomp in decoration of the gondola. In ancient times, in fact the gondolas were covered with precious fabrics and gold inserts. The Senate thought instead of having to use the color black, the color of elegance, which could well represent a means of transport mansion which was the gondola. The noble families possessed one or more gondolas with which they were carrying on business or pleasure a little ‘as happened with the cars in 800. There were so-called “Fresh”, opportunities to meet and worldliness who were real gondola rides through the city.
The history of the gondola is used instead mainly for tourism purposes, but also for ceremonies (weddings and funerals) or simply as a ferry to carry passengers from side to side of the Grand Canal. Or another use made ​​of it is sports regattas dedicated to Venetian boats, like the famous Historical Regatta, in which are also used gondolas with reduced dimensions. The history of the gondola is interesting and full of mysteries

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