“At the bridge I stood
lately in the brown night.
From afar came a song:
as a golden drop it welled
over the quivering surface.
Gondolas, lights, and music —
drunken it swam out into the twilight.
My soul, a stringed instrument,
sang to itself, invisibly touched,
a secret gondola song,
quivering with iridescent happiness.
— Did anyone listen to it?”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
There’s nothing more romantic, idyllic and magical than a gondola ride in Venice.
Nearly every person who visits Venice for the first time wants to ride a gondola. Just as throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain in Rome, it seems like something you just have to do.
While a gondola ride is not moderately priced, it can be an enthralling experience if you forget the price and focus on the ride as it is the best way to participate in the authentic Venetian history. The handsome gondoliers, dressed in black pants, striped shirt and closed dark shoes hanging out all over town, are eager to have you hop in for a ride. The gondola rate can range from €80 to €150 or more depending on the demand, length of the ride and special services. Make sure you negotiate both the rate and the length of the ride before you get into the boat. Otherwise, your gondola ride may be memorable for reasons that have nothing to do with sightseeing.
I shared the ride with 5 friends which significantly reduced the cost. The gondolier stood up to row and used only one oar, as this is the best way to row through the narrow canals of Venice. He explained the history as the route featured some of the sightseeing attractions: the glorious Baroque Salute Church that was built to commemorate the end of Venice’s most severe and devastating plague, La Fenice Opera House, the beautiful San Moise Church, Mozart’s home in Venice and numerous magnificent Gothic/Byzantine Palaces that echo the great prosperity of the city. He would also sing traditional Italian songs and greet “Ahoy” to other gondoliers when they pass each other on the canal.
The charm of the scenic beauty is alluring. I was soaked in the view – delicate bridges under which we passed, little balconies with beautiful flowers hanging out and attractive shops and restaurants. The gondola glided through the narrow canals and we would duck our heads while floating under small foot bridges. I was trying to savour every scene, every moment and to capture the unfaltering beauty both in my mind and in my camera.
By the way… Did I tell you the gondoliers are extremely charming? Oh, they are! But… Beware, women! The locals say that anyone who falls for these Venetian Romeos “is pulling the wool over her eyes.”