Tag Archives: gondola

Says Giorgia: "I'm a gondolier, first and foremost."

Not surprisingly, Giorgia makes amends. First, the SMS was an error, and second, she knows far better than to bite the hand, eccettera.

I would have been surprised if, as the first female gondolier, Giorgia had “taken the movie deal;” that is, sold out a goal she’d held dear all her life for a bit of short-term fame. That said, there’s no doubt she has been inundated with requests from all over the world for interviews, photo ops, and who knows what else…it’s only natural she could use a hand managing the initial wave. So, she asked her “agent” — her sister — to help by answering the phone. And there was some resulting confusion. And it made headlines (including on this blog). Ah, Venice.

cavallo.jpgGiorgia shoulders all the blame herself, though: Se ho sbagliato chiedo scusa. “Forgive me if I caused any problems.” She never meant to ask money from a journalist, but expenses from Canale 5 who wanted her in Milan (the SMS was intended for them). The errors stand corrected, as of this morning’s article in the Gazzettino.

“I’ve worked too hard and made others suffer too much to get this far – I wouldn’t ever want this short-term fame to being harm either to me or to any of the gondoliers.”

“I hope to become a gondolier in every way,” she adds. “but it’s overwhelming me a little all this brouhaha going on around me.”

Ci credo…I believe it. It would surprise me that a woman and a mother of young children with the temerity to even attempt becoming a gondolier would so easily cave to the temptations of her “15-seconds.” I’m delighted to hear the backstory clarified.

Vai Giorgia, sei fortissima!

First Female Gondolier risks expulsion, two days in…

Oops…two days into her intern job as the first female gondolier ever, Giorgia’s gone Hollywood on us.

traghetto.jpgAccording to this morning’s article in the Gazzettino, Dino Di Meo of the French Liberation was dumbfounded when, in response to his request for an interview and a photograph, he was redirected – by SMS – to Giorgia’s agent. Gonna cost ya, big guy.

And no, the Ente Gondola guys are none too happy about it. In fact, after President Aldo Rosso vehemently defended her right to be the world’s first gondoliera, he’s now threatening to throw her right back out. No gondolier is even permitted to talk to the press without authorization of his/her capo, much less take money for the privilege.

She’d “better keep her feet on the ground,” says Aldo Rosso in the Gazzettino article. “If she intends to earn money on her image and on that of being a gondolier, this will be it for me. The honor and history of being a gondolier can’t be sold, even if you’re talking about the first woman ever authorized to take oar in hand.” He went on, “Giorgia will learn the rules of the trade, the ethics, and the code of conduct. This rest is so much smoke.”

[I know this is my cue to launch into a tirade about the use of terms like honor and code-of-conduct as it relates to gondoliers, but while this is the place, it is not the time.]

We’ll see what Giorgia decides. Essendo tanta in gamba, I doubt it will take long for her to determine that there are a great many ways to profit from being the world’s first female gondolier without breaking any rules…and without alienating every other gondolier on the planet, including the ones that stood behind you from the get-go.

Dura, fia: dai che ce la fai!

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!

Pay the going rate: Venetian Gondola Fares

A friend of mine arrived in Venice at the end of her 12-day cruise around Italy. (“Just so you know, Nan, twelve days is too long.”) During her stay here (her companions flew home direct from the cruise, not unusual), she recounted a visit to the Piazza the night before she disembarked, including the price of the gondola ride her group decided to enjoy. “You paid what?!”

gondola.jpgNow, you must know that this is my standard response whenever Nancy tells me about most any purchase she has made. She is the spendthrift, I the cheapskate (or just more sane in my expenditures, according to me), so we have both come to expect this semi-regular reaction. I have to say it, she has to ignore me completely.

But in this case, it was warranted. I live here. I know that up to six people can ride in a gondola for 40 minutes for €80, with €40 for each additional twenty minutes; and that there is a surcharge after 7 pm, so price is then €100 for 40 minutes and €50 for every twenty thereafter.

What did my friend pay? Evidently, the cruise company offered a transfer from the ship to the Piazza after dinner for a pittance, €5 per person or so. Sounds lovely, let’s go. The thoroughly enjoyable gondola ride that the five in her group decided to take, even with an extra 20 minutes, should have cost them, oh, €100 to €150 total. Instead, “They paid what?!”

€50 per person, or €250. They were told (by whom I am not sure), that this was a discount: that normally they would have paid €100 per person. Nancy said that the gondolier sang them his favorite song, did I know what it was? “‘We’re In the Money’,” I guessed?

Now, I like the gondola (I row, for heaven’s sake), know there are some great gondoliers, and have my own favorites. If a gondola ride appeals to you, by all means take one. But no matter what you decide to pay for it, it’s best to first know the going-gondola-rate, and to understand it’s per gondola…not per person.

Current Gondola Fares

Presenting the Preview

We’re happy to announce the completion of the preview/demo/promo of our documentary-in-progress. We’ll be using this as our “biglietto da visita” as we gather funding…but I have to say the responses so far have been extremely positive, for which we are grateful. There is an Italian version of the preview as well, and the site will be translated into Italian very soon as well.

Beyond the Gondola: Where Hidden Venice Lives from Living Venice on Vimeo.

We’ve added a sidebar link to make it easy to locate the preview in the future. For complete information on the documentary project and to make a contribution, please see vogadoc.org.