I had gone across the canal to do some business. On the way back, I joked with the gondoliers. They said, "We want to give you a ride." I said I had no money. They said, "We want to give you a ride." I said, "Oh, okay, very nice, in the future." They said, "We want to give you a ride RIGHT NOW. Right now is the time. Right now there are no customers. Now is the time." Of course I got in the gondola.
The gondola took me to places I had never been before, down thin, quiet canals nearly impossible for the sleek, black boat to navigate -- but these gondoliers have the Venetian water running through their veins, like blood, and the vessel slipped easily through the arteries. We burst back onto the Grand Canal, and the sky was Venetian Red, a Magic Color sent down from Heaven. The silvery Moon was almost full. It reflected the setting Sun. Dark storm clouds held their tears, as if painted only for effect by an omniscient artist. They held their tears, but I could not hold mine. I had tears in my eyes... I had tears in my eyes... the very strong message this beautiful, strong culture was sending... that Venice... and Italy... is sending to you.
When the voyage was over, the gondoliers apologized for speaking to me in the familiar "tu" and not "Lei," but they said, "You seem too young for us to call you 'Lei" -- which, of course, appealed to my vanity:) I thanked them, and thanked them... then I told a few people what had just happened... and they were stunned. I don't know how to describe, exactly, the enormity of the gesture because the gondoliers never do such a thing (well, sometimes they do if they think they will get lucky, but this was absolutely nothing like that -- this was done with the utmost respect). One person said, after a long silence: "That means the entire energy of Venice has changed." I said, "Yes. We must respect this new power."
Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
Gondolieri Travel, an agency that, apparently, the gondoliers have created themselves. No one whatsoever asked me to do anything for that gondola ride -- it was given from the heart. For me, telling you about their site is like buying them a rose. Click here to visit their site:
"Gondolieri Travel is a branch office of the historical Cooperativa Gondolieri of Venice, the cooperative Daniele Manin was born with a different name in 1868 on 12th July, setting up the Mutuo Soccorso society in support of the gondoliers of Venice.
The Daniele Manin company name officially were registered on 1948, initially to give assistance and support to the gondoliers, then developing into a bigger company, enlarging the gondola transport service to other different activities: gondolas and piers maintenance, the construction and restoration of gondolas in their own Squeri (shipyards for the hand craftmanship of boats), such as the Squero Ognissanti of San Trovaso and the Giudecca shipyard, and on these days new administration and payment offices.
The gondoliers category were helped in the past by this company also from the cultural way, as the company arranged historic lectures and foreign languages courses, in order to help gondoliers work better, expecially because during summer season gondoliers work with foreign tourists.
From the year 2006 the Cooperativa created their Travel Agency, in order to have the own booking office, and as they receive many different requests, enlarge their services offering any kind of private or collective excursions, selected hotels reservations, private transfers with water taxi and cars, and tailor-made solutions for any requests and needs."