The canals of Venice are the veins of the city and the image of a gondola maneuvering through the narrow canals coins the city like few others. The idea of a gondola ride on the canals is extremely romantic, however when you are staying in Venice apartments you will find that the prices of a gondola ride will make you think twice whether you would like to go on a gondola ride or not. Yes, the rates are overpriced indeed, but you should also know that the job as a gondolier is taken very seriously and not everyone has what it takes.
The profession is controlled by a guild which only grants a limited amount of licenses. Whereas many would like to be a gondolier you have to spend long periods of training and apprenticeship first. It is necessary to acquire the practical skills to perfection as the canals get to narrow. Also part of the process is a big exam at the end that tests the knowledge of Venetian history, landmarks, and foreign language skills.
Venice has a long tradition of regattas. Some of them are more symbolic and ceremonial, others are competitive, but they all use the gondola as vessel.
Up until last year this profession was only occupied by men. In the summer of 2010 a woman by the name of Giorgia Boscolo ended 900 (!!!) years of tradition by becoming the first female gondolier in history. Many believed this day would never come, as some considered this the last “Venetian taboo” to have a female gondolier. Coming from a family of gondoliers her father taught her many things growing up and she had always dreamed of being a gondolier. Though having achieved this great accomplishment now, Boscolo is only allowed to jump in when a male gondolier wants the day off, which seems very discriminating to me. If she went through the same training and passed the same texts she is indeed entitled to practice the job like everyone else.
When you are renting apartments in Venice and decide to take a gondola boat ride, maybe you are lucky enough to catch a ride with Giorgia Boscolo.