Gondola in the Venetian island of Burano, Italy, 2003

Gondola in Burano (Venice), Italy, 2003 - Yashica FX, T-Max 400, 50mm Contax Zeiss f/1,4
Gondola in Burano (Venice), Italy, 2003 – Yashica FX, T-Max 400, 50mm Contax Zeiss f/1,4

The gondola is the most emblematic symbol of Venice. Before a major means of transportation, it’s now a touristic – and expensive! – attraction. But it’s still used by Venetian to cross the Grand Canal (traghetto).

The number of gondolas in Venice has dropped from around 10 000 in the 1500s to about 400 nowadays.

To become a gondolier (gondolieri), you need 400 hours of training during six months to get the practical skill to handle the gondola.

According to an article in The Guardian, in 2017, there was only one female gondolier in Venice. Alec Hai, a transgender man, was the first female to become a gondolier in 2010.

 

A gondola is always black… except in Burano

Burano is a Venetian island, less than 10 kilometers from Venice. It’s very close from Torcello, an other Venetian island, referred to as the parent island from which Venice was populated.

Burano is famous for its colored houses: you need to be really in love with Black and White to put a Black & White film in your camera when walking around! Of course, it was before everybody got a digital camera…

The very few gondolas belong to people who use them for their pleasure, not for tourists. In Venice, all the gondolas for tourists are black: a sumptuary law of Venice required that gondolas should be painted black. But in Burano, if you’re lucky, you can see a red or a yellow gondola. If you see a colored gondola in Venice, it probably comes from Burano.

You can see a view of Burano on Google Maps. And a photo shot from a gondola by the french photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.

 

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