Gondolas in Venice are a luxury experience, so characteristic of Venice. They are one of the things that made the city so famous. Taking a gondola ride is a must during your stay. It gives you a unique perspective on the city, palazzos, and other Venice attractions. They aren’t for getting around the city but for a pleasurable or romantic tour. Apart from Venetians on their wedding day, gondolas are mostly a touristic adventure.
Some history behind the gondolas
Gondolas in Venice were once essential for transporting people across Venice and the surrounding islands. They also functioned as luxury cabs for the Venetian nobility. Gondoliers are part of the symbolism and mythology of Venice. Their intimate knowledge of the city’s waterways passes on from father to son. It has been a male field for centuries, but since 2014 a few women have joined. All gondoliers speak English and have excellent knowledge about Venice. Do not expect your gondolier to burst into “O Sole Mio,” however. You are most likely to hear the cries of “Oe Premi!” and “Stai!”. These are the warning calls echoing down the Venice canals for centuries. You can also book a serenaded tour online.
Cost of the gondola and the logistics
There are many gondolas in Venice waiting for business. A gondola in Venice ride may be costly, but there are a few tips and tricks. Check the official tariffs and agree on a price with a gondolier before boarding. Although there are official prices, most gondoliers are notorious for overcharging. With a gondola ride, there is no shame in bargaining. During the low season, you can negotiate a fee below the official rate and a journey shorter than 45 minutes. Another way of cutting costs is to share a gondola as it seats up to 6 people.
Gondoliers all speak a smattering of English, and have basic exams in Venice's art and history. Don't expect your gondolier to burst into "O Sole Mio" though. The most you are likely to hear are the low melodic calls: "Oe Premi!" And "Stai!", the warning cries that have echoed down the canals of Venice for centuries.
Do you tip gondola drivers in venice?
If you want to go on a serenade tour, then visit an evening flotilla with accompanying musicians, which is organised regularly from May to October. Hiring a gondola ride independently is more romantic but will cost significantly more. Details are available from any travel agent.
Once used to ferry people across the city and islands, and as luxury cabins for the aristocracy, gondolas are now largely a pleasure craft. A ride on one is an essential part of the Venetian experience. It gives a very different perspective on the city, gliding past grand palatial houses on a form of transport used for more than a thousand years.
So don’t hesitate! Discover the charm of Venice with a terrific gondola ride along the Grand Canal.