Tag Archives: first female gondolier

Benvenuta Giorgia: the First Female Gondolier

Talk about buzz. Her name is Giorgia Boscolo, and she has shattered the black-boat-barrier, the one they said would never fall. The Sarda Unione calls it “the last Venetian tabù,” and today we can say that the exclusive club of the Venetian gondolier, for the first time ever, includes a woman.

Not without plenty of kicking and screaming, mind you. According to the article in the Gazzettino, a procession of gondoliers present at the organizational seat made no secret of their opinion as to whether or not a woman should be allowed into the famous clan. It was the fist of Aldo Rosso, president of the Ente Gondola, slamming soundly on the table that got their attention.

“If you wanted the position reserved only for men, you should have said so before,” yelled Rosso, furious. “I am the one who conducts the admission and evaluation of the substitute gondoliers: according to the law it’s open to everyone, male and female. If a woman passed the test, it means she’s capable. Period.”

Rosso understands their practical concerns, however: toilettes, changing areas, etc. “These are concrete problems we’ll need to resolve,” he says.

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“She has the gondola in her blood.”

Giorgia, with hair is as blond as her smile is broad, looks ready to ply her trade as she tips her straw hat with oar in hand — although passing this test qualifies her as a substitute gondolier (a type of intern) while she perfects her craft. She’ll be a working Mom, too: the twenty-three-year-old is married with two children.

“I’m so happy to have realized my dream,” says Giorgia, according to the Gazzettino. “I’ve been working on this since I was a little girl.” She tried two years ago to pass the exam and failed by a hair. “Of course, I still have the school for substitute gondoliers” (those who transport passengers back and forth across the Grand Canal), “and a host of other difficulties ahead. But I’ve made the first hurdle.” And it certainly is a big one, my dear.

Also a gondolier at the San Sofia station, her Dad says she is “bravissima. I’m really proud of her — although I’m still not sure that being a gondolier is woman’s work.” The job is a lucrative one, and for that reason alone no one should be excluded from attempting to qualify. And although this is a history-making event, the work is still tough: physically demanding, long days, in all sorts of weather, and then you have to hang out with, um, gondoliers. Dura, eh…

But at least the decision to be a professional gondolier or not will be Giorgia’s alone. And you can bet the rest of us women (and plenty of the guys too, mind you) who row, whether gondola, pupparin, mascareta or other craft, will be salutandola every time we see her.

Dai che c’è la fai! Viva le gondoliere!