During my all-too-short stay in Venice, there was one sight that I couldn’t help but notice every minute of every day: the famous Venetian gondolas transporting tourists of all nationalities down the equally famous canals of the Sunken City.
I was always interested in knowing a bit more about the people who steer/paddle the boats with those long oars. These guys are known in the city as “Boatmen”. Nothing too flashy about the name, but they are great at their job – and most of them don’t mind posing for a photo with the tourists. If you’re lucky/unlucky, you may even get to hear them sing!
The gondolas themselves are very sturdy. I haven’t heard of many gondolas sinking in the canals of Venice, and in any case, I don’t think the canals are that deep (well, apart from the Grand Canal). 2 or 3 people seem to be the maximum for sitting in the boats and it must be such a romantic way to explore the city, with the gentle sound of the water swooshing past the vessels’ wooden frameworks (actually, some gondolas are fibreglass).
Some of the smaller canals in Venice can get very busy, and it sure is a tight squeeze to navigate safely through to your destination. Fortunately, Venetian Boatmen are experts in their field (steering, not singing), but as you are sitting just above the water level, it can be a much wilder ride at times than you first envisaged!