The gondola is the typical boat of Venice.
Originally gondolas were painted in different colors and they were luxurious decorated so that the Senate of Venice, between 1500 and 1600, imposed various sumptuary laws to limit the excessive pomp
and that settled in the time, that the gondolas were black in color. This belies the myth that the black color of the gondolas had been used as a sign of mourning following the consequences of an outbreak of plague.
Gondolas were and still are produced in Squeri (small shipyards) dedicated to their manufacture. It takes about 1 year to complete each single gondola.
The hull of the gondola is made of 280 wood pieces. For its construction using only wood (at one time even the spikes were made of wood).
It ‘s about 11 meters long and one of its main characteristics is that it has an asymmetrical shape and that is to have a greater inclination on the right side, to allow a better control on the maneuvering, wich is consented by only oar inserted in its forcola, a special oarlock. The oar is maneuvered by the gondolier.
The fero da prova or dolfin (literally: the front tool) with its curved shape, represents the corno ducale (il cappello del doge) and the popular legend tells that, the six teeth arranged in a comb on the iron and facing the water, remind the districts of Venice, while the tooth facing the inside, represent the Giudecca island and the small arch, placed on the top of the upper tooth, represents the Rialto bridge.
The actual shape of the gondola dates back to XIX and XX Centuries.
Til the early years of the XX Century, the gondolas were equipped with a felze, a cabin that served as shelter from the cold, the rain and also from the sun.
Gondola, today, it’s mainly used as tourist attraction but it is still common use by the Venetians to use as traghetto ( a ferry service) to go from one bank to the other of the Grand Canal.
When used with the purpose sports, gondola is replaced by gondolino.
The gondolini are smaller, more symmetrical than the gondola and hosts 2 gondoliers.The gondolino, considered the “formula one” between the boats and it is the great star of the “Historical Regata” (Regata Storica), the historical race that takes place on the first Sunday of September.