Venice: Live from Gondolas on the Grand Canal

Six gondolas, live musical accompaniment, and a lot of “Prosecco” – beware, tourists!

Six gondolas abreast down the Grand Canal? Tony and Helen Page brave a slightly out-of-control shared gondola cruise (maybe the prosecco had something to do with it) that starts off at the Rialto Bridge and parties on down the famous Venetian waterway. Warning: contains singing of “Volare“. tweet

“Well here we are on a standard gondola cruise which has been very peaceful and uneventful so far (which is why I haven’t shot anything), apart from the champagne which somebody very kindly supplied on the way. People rather take the mickey out of these gondola cruises, especially the joint ones like we’re on, but there is a certain charm to it. Not quite the James Bond romantic, hidden gondola – you know, the ones attired with the curtains and everything like that, which really rarely occurs – but it’s still a pleasant experience. It raises a smile with everybody you pass.”

Onto the Grand Canal at Rialto

“And here we are, as we come out onto the Grand Canal. Are we going right, are we going left? I have no idea! You might like to take bets at this critical moment. And anyway, I think we’re going left because on the right, yep, it’s the Rialto Bridge. There’s surprisingly little action going on at the moment. Sorry, it’s rocking a bit here – I’m holding everything as steady as I can.

“You can’t help but thinking as we go transversely across the Grand Canal that we’re lucky that there are no ACTV vaporetti hammering down the Canal at this particular moment.

Now these restaurants over here, next to the Rialto, they’re tourist restaurants, but these are some of the better ones, the food is reputedly not so bad and the atmosphere and position, of course, is perfect at night. We had dinner last night at Trattoria al Madonna which is up a road off there and it is very authentic. Good for seafood, try their seafood risotto.”

This Gondola trip is getting out of control!

Venice Gondola Trip

Tony on the Grand Canal

“And talking about ACTV vaporetti, here’s one right now. Fortunately it’s stopped. Now, as you can see, there’s a certain degree of out-of-control nature here, which may or may not have something to do with the amount of alcohol and the bottles of champagne that people have been handing out, actually not really, not really champagne. There’s Helen, immortalizing me.
(Ed: Gondoliers talk volubly amongst themselves)
Now if you can speak Venetian, and I mean the Venetian dialect which they cunningly speak so that we can’t understand a word they say, you would at least hear what they’re talking … my god, there’s three of them (Ed: gondolas) now.

“Well, there we are, it’s all one big happy family here on the Grand Canal.”

Six Gondolas abreast down the Grand Canal

“Now we will be caught up by the rest of our flotilla, it’s like, “hey, we’ve got ourselves a convoy” (Ed: that reference really dates you). Now the musicians have come up here because we haven’t heard them before.
(Musicians sing and play)
Now here we are, one, two, three, four, five, in fact, there’s an additional gondola, so that’s six gondolas abreast down the Grand Canal. They’ve just had two of their friends go by in a motorboat.

“The flotilla’s starting to split up slightly. This may be because there’s an ACTV vaporetto just on our left. This is going to be fun when he takes off. Actually I think the gondoliers quite like being six abreast going down the Grand Canal.

“Oops..sit down – Helen stands up, a fatal thing in a boat. And here’s an ACTV guy powering past. Now wait for the wake. Surprisingly, the ACTV ferries don’t actually make that much wake, by accident or design, who knows. Anway, here comes another ferry. I’ve got to say, they’re pretty frequent.

They just HAD to sing “Volare

“I knew it couldn’t last, they’ve started in on “Volare”. Our little flotilla is seemingly gathered on one side of the Grand Canal. I’d love to say it was opposite something important, but actually it’s opposite a rather large placard which I’ll just show you: restoration that you’ll find quite a lot of on the Grand Canal.

“Here you are, four gondolas abreast and there’s two more in the lead. I think these gondoliers rather enjoy being in … ah, he’s rocking the boat. Well, it’s getting rough. Well, we’re going back off the Grand Canal probably to the thanks of most of its denizens, including the Alilaguna boat and the water taxi.”

Don’t miss Part 2 of this gondola trip, which takes us through the back canals of Venice to the gondola assembly point near St. Mark’s Square.

See more photos at Travelsignposts Venice Gondola Rides album Here.

For more information about Venice, see our Venice Trip Planner Here.

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