May 20, 2008
Throughout the City that Seems to be Slowly Sinking Back into the Sea, young men dressed in black and white striped shirts could be seen expertly steering gondolas through the quiet side canals. During lulls, we'd see them at edge of a canal, talking with each other or flirting with potential customers. Their self-assurance as they maneuvered the boats reminded me of the boatmen I've met in the American Southwest on whitewater raft trips, although the setting could not be more different.
From what we could gather, being a gondolier is often a family tradition, passed from father to son. One gondolier told us that he was the fifth generation in his family to practice the craft. We didn't see a single female gondolier: women are apparently still barred from this particular boys' club.
Posted by jo(e)