How to choose a Gondelier in Venice



imageThe gondola ride is one of those things you do once in your life, and of course you do it in Venice, Italy. (Or if you’re really cheesy, you do it in Las Vegas!;)) There just isn’t a better way to experience the city than in an archetypical piece of Venetian history, the gondola. Each gondola is decorated personally with slip-covered cushions on the chairs. A typical gondola will be black with red and gold fabrics and gold painted leaf trim. They are opulent and beautiful and will slip you dreamily into a different time.
The 80 euros (plus tip people!) is worth every penny, If you choose a great Gondelier! The men who lead you on a romantic tour of back canals of Venice, avoiding collisions with other boats, singing a bit of opera, telling jokes, whistling, and otherwise just keeping you entertained for the 30-45 minute ride study for years to have the privilege of hosting guests in their proudly striped shirts.
But, like a black cab driver in London, some are much better than others. How should you pick the person who will give you and yours the absolute best experience?
As we watched the parked gondolas, and the gondolas in action, we knew quickly that we preferred an older guy. Many of the young guys were silently leading their passengers around, some even texting on their cell phones! The older men, say over 50 seemed to take more pride in providing a good tour: singing, whistling, and pointing out interesting points along the way. Our driver told us about his kids names which were painted on the side chairs, his wife’s, as it should be, was on the very front! 😉 He showed a house where Mozart lived and pointed to buildings had must-see elements inside. He shared some history with us as well as recent news, such as: his very gondola can be seen outside the hotel Danieli in the 2010 Hollywood movie The Tourist, staring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. He said Angelina was way too skinny in person. (That I will have to see for myself bc she has always looked beautiful to me) We are quite laid back and our gondolier was the same, so while he entertained, he was also silent or just humming or singing softly here and there. Just right! If you are super hyper, pick a hyper gondolier 🙂 He also took us along back canals that were only large enough for gondoli and small private water taxis. At the end of our tour we were on the Grand Canal for a little bit, and while the view was spectacular, the trip would not have been complete without those marvelous tiny canals which revealed the true Venice.

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