“The air was heavy and foul, the sun burnt down through a slate-colored haze. Water slapped gurgling against wood and stone. The gondolier’s cry, half warning, half salute, was answered with singular accord from far within the silence of the labyrinth” – Thomas Mann, Death in Venice 1912
One of my favorite lines from Mann’s famous novella grittily describes the sensation of being rowed through the labyrinth of my adopted hometown. I often hear tourist proclaim “cliché” when deciding whether or not to shell out the price of a gondola ride. I say it’s required.
These long, sleek, sexy black row boats are part of the city’s history. Their unique design was developed specifically for this lagoon. The Gondoliers themselves are true Venetian personalities, you should not miss the opportunity of mixing with them.
Travel for me is about the experience. A gondola ride is the ultimate Venetian experience, include it in your budget. Go at twilight for the most peaceful paddle. Be quiet. Listen to the secrets La Serenissima whispers in your ear.
Of the various locations throughout the city you can journey from I choose Traghetto Santa Sofia. Located across from the Rialto fish market, here you find yourself near center of the Grand Canal. Glide along the water as the grandest of grand palaces glow and glitter around you.
The word traghetto means a ferry crossing. At Traghetto Santa Sofia you can either invest in a private gondola ride or cross the Grand Canal standing up like the locals.