5 Things you didn’t know about Oaring a Gondola
Not to boast, but one of the many things your Italian Buddies know how to do is… oaring a gondola.
It is actually not that hard and with 10-20 tours you should learn the basics, provided that someone would let you drive a gondola! In fact, there are a couple Venetian oaring clubs in the mainland, near Parco San Giuliano, where you could do some practice on different boats “mascarete”, cheaper and easier to drive, but with the same principles.
Anyway… If you’re in Venice and you’re observing a gondola, you may be surprised by the peculiar oaring style: standing driver, only one oar and always by the same side. How does it work?
Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about oaring a gondola:
1) Gondolas aren’t straight. They’re very slightly bent to the right… like a banana
2) The most important piece of a gondola is the “forcola”, the wooden piece where the oar lays. It has a very specific shape that allows you to perform different maneuvers by laying the oar in different angles of the piece. It is also very expensive and delicate.
3) There is only one oar and only on one side to save space… and drive through the narrow canals of Venice.
4) There are road signs and rules like in a street, but contrarily to European roads, gondolas are driven on the left side of the canals. Why? Because the oar is always to the right…
5) As I mentioned above, gondolas aren’t the only kind of boats that utilize this technique. There are many others, traditionally used in Venice for leisure or commerce.