«Gondolas and the Vaporetti»

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

Venice and gondolas go hand in hand. The water traffic here is something that will continue to fascinate you, on each and every visit.
I hope you will enjoy my report on 'La Serenissima'.

Gondolas in Venice


Gondolas in Venice
Quietly gliding through the canals of La Serenissima in a gondola, definitely the thing to
do here. The gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat, well suited
to the conditions of the Venetian lagoon. The rowing oar, which is not fastened to the
hull, is used in a sculling manner, also acting as the rudder.

Gondolas in Venice
I think I was 9 or 10 years old when I was in a similar situation: in a gondola
with my parents and my brother. The photos I've kept show my enthusiasm,
but the recollection has faded beyond recognition.

Gondolas in Venice

Gondolas in Venice

Gondolas in Venice
Waiting in the shade for the next customers to present themselves.
For centuries the gondola was the chief means of transportation and most common
watercraft within Venice. It is propelled by a gondolier. In modern times the iconic
boats still have a role in public transport in the city, serving as traghetti (ferries)
over the Grand Canal (€4,-). I should have tried the 'traghetti', much simpler than walking
all the way to the next Vaporetto station, but I was not aware of their existence. Next time.



Gondolas in Venice
Unfortunately I passed this gondola wharf when they were out on their lunch break (which in Italy can last
until 3 pm). Through a small window I managed to make this photo. Until the early 20th century, as many photographs attest, gondolas were often fitted with a 'felze', a small cabin, to protect the passengers from the weather or from onlookers. Its windows could be closed with louvered shutters—the original 'venetian blinds'. They used to be
painted in many colours, but at some point a law was passed for a single colour: black. It is estimated that there
were eight to ten thousand gondolas during the 17th and 18th century. There are just over four hundred in active
service today, virtually all of them used for hire by tourists. Source: en.wikipedia.org_Gondola


Gondolas in Venice
The gondolier checks his smartphone: is he being summoned for a fare or seeking a diversion on Facebook?

Gondolas in Venice
There sure is a lot of photography going on in Venice,Italy!

Gondolas in Venice
Training to be a gondolier?


Gondolas in Venice
Returning from the canals to the starting point at Piazza San Marco one has to traverse this bit
of unruly water. I heard a mother cry out for another route, for fear of her daughter getting seasick...



The Vaporetti
When we arrived on Marco Polo IAP we bought tickets (€68,- p.p. for 7 days) for the Vaporetti system,
usable for a week of get-on-get-off transport in the lagoon. We took the bus from the airport to Venezia
(included in that €68,- fare), to include a watertransfer from the airport to Venezia was an extra 27,- p.p.
You see here the line 5.2 being prepared for our boarding at the Lido dock. The sign tells you at
which stations it will dock, very easy to understand. The boats may be crowded though.

The Vaporetti

Generally there are only two people running a Vaporetto: the pilot who actually steers the vessel, and a marinaio (mariner) who sees to it passengers exit and enter safely through the vaporetto's movable gate.
It is a graceful minuet performed with great care this docking, flow of passengers and departure. The pilot, making sure there is clear access to the floating Vaporetto stop, inches the vessel close and paralllel to one of the stop's several steel anchorages, as the marinaio makes ready to lasso the anchorage with a stout rope.
Once this is done, and the rope deftly knotted, the pilot slowly moves the boat forward, tightening the rope amid much strain and tension, and forcing the vessel to hug the docking area. As this is being done, the marinaio swings open the Vaporetto gate and passengers disembark and the new ones get on, all in one flowing process.
Finally the marinaio slams the gate shut and the pilot reverses the vessel, easing the tension on the mooring rope so the Marinaio undoes the knot with a few swift movements, the pilot guns the engine forward and off we go again!

It is said that most Vaporetto pilots and mariners come from the nearby and comparatively small island of Choggia, a tiny fishing community where seafaring is bred in the bone. (Source: 'Serenissimma, Venice in Winter')

The name 'Vaporetto' stems from the time when these vessels were powered by 'vapo', by steam. They are diesel-powered now, of course.

The Vaporetti
The boats used on the Vapo runs greatly differ in size and accommodation. If they have airco working it is
probably of no use because people open the windows, resulting in an opposite effect. Most trips I found
were quite crowded, but we were visiting in July so we had ourselves mentally prepared. We seldom
saw this relaxed atmosphere and that is probably why I photographed it!

Vaporetti to Burano
Some boats used in the Vaporetto system have an aft deck: cooler and better for taking pictures.

The Vaporetti
The Rialto stop is a busy and hectic one.


LINKS of the various pages reporting on this trip


LINKS of the various pages reporting on this trip

Vaporetti map
Vaporetti Map