My travel planner (Norma at ItalyEasy.com) sent this. I guess it reminds us of the spirit of the the people in Italy who take up an oar and pronounce the spirit of the season. The gondoliers are no exception. A strong community spirit rows through Venice among the gondoliers, understandably with the rich history behind the Arsenale that housed the industry.
The first building of the Arsenale (current meaning of the term “dock”) dates back to the 1100’s, apparently due to the Doge Faliero Ordelafo’s foresight to improve shipbuilding industry. Over the centuries construction and upgrades were implemented, including measures to face the menacing Ottoman maritime fleet in 1453, and the first launching of a Northern European war vessel in 1667. Expansions continued despite looting and dominations by other countries until the 1900’s.
After the industrial revolution, the Arsenal had started to decline because it was no longer in a position to satisfy the needs of modern shipbuilding. From here, the history is sketchy, especially reading that the Veneto annexed itself from the Kingdom of Italy in 1866, but wanted to retain all the guarantees of a large arsenal.
The life of a gondolier (Jed Smith: http://italywise.com/the-life-of-a-gondolier/)
is no easy feat, and yes, there was in 2010 a female fit to join this boys’ club.
Gondolier’s must fill many requirements before the possibility of a six figure income. Physical strength, maintenance of one’s boat, adhering to the “rules of the road” so to speak, and putting up with the stream of tourist personalities alone can be daunting.
They must be well-versed in Venice history, the maze of canals, belong to a 1000-year-old Guild with 400 hours of training, sponsorship and tutoring by an existing member, not to mention a tough exam. Think of all that before becoming too reluctant to shell out and leave a big tip. Besides, look how cute they are in their Santa Claus suits!