The gondola is Venice’s most famous boat, whose origins date back to the Middle Ages. Over the centuries its shape developed, adapting to the changing needs of Venetians. Today, as in the past, in the “squeri,” the shipyards where they are produced, the few remaining master craftsmen hand down the ancient construction technique to new generations.
If in the past it was the exclusive privilege of the wealthy classes, like a luxury motorboat, nowadays it is mainly used for tourist purposes.
It is one of the many symbols attributable to our city, but behind its popularity there are aspects unknown to many people. Therefore, the 5 things you may not have known about the gondola are described here!
1) THE BOW SHAPE
The bow is comb-shaped and has a very specific symbolism: the six teeth protruding forward represent the Venice sestieri, while the tooth protruding internally represents the island of Giudecca. Finally, the upper part symbolizes the Doge’s hat.
2) THE BLACK COLOR
Today gondolas are only black in color, but it was not always so. In the golden age of the Serenissima, gondolas were a riot of color and opulence, so much so that real competitions arose among the nobles about who owned the most opulent one. To stop this trend, the Senate imposed the black color as a mandatory, sanctioning those who violated that law.
3) THE ASYMMETRICAL STRUCTURE
The structure of the gondola is unbalanced to the right to ensure a proper balance by the gondolier, placed at the left rear of the boat, while sailing with his single oar.
4) WEIGHT AND COMPOSITION
The gondola weighs 600 kg and consists of about 280 pieces. Each part is made of specific types of wood that can make it durable as well as suitable for sailing in calm waters. The woods used include basswood, elm and walnut.
5) THE FLAT BOTTOM
It has a flat bottom, which makes it functional for movement even in the shallowest waters of the lagoon, without issues of floating and stranding in the shallow water.
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