In the water-logged city of Venice, gondolas have been an important mode of transportation for about 1,500 years. The long wooden boats are still made by hand using time-honored methods, and gondoliers must complete a rigorous training program and apprenticeship before ferrying passengers. Get a taste of the tradition with a unique, hands-on lesson. Make your way to a harbor tucked away in a quiet corner of Venice to meet your instructor, a professional gondolier. Begin your lesson on solid ground while you learn some balancing moves and a short history of gondoliering.
Head out to a quiet canal where a gondoletto awaits. Similar to a gondola but more stable and easier to steer, this training boat is the kind used in professional gondolier training schools. Take your turn at the helm and learn how to row and steer the boat using a single long oar, while your instructor looks on and provides tips. Get your sea legs among Venice’s quieter canals, and then head out into the larger canals and the open waters of the Venetian Lagoon for more practice.
After about 1.5 hours of maneuvering the gondoletto through the city’s scenic waterways, return to the original departure point and bid a fond farewell to your instructor. You’re sure to have a renewed appreciation for the skilled gondoliers when you see them cruising through Venice.