A Venetian who has never been on a boat?
Venice by Gondola
Venice by Gondola – Yes, I admit it: I am Venetian and I never been on a rowing boat in my whole life!
First of all I would like to clarify something: the term Venetian does not apply only to people who are born and live in Venice itself, but also to all of those people who live in the province of Venice, which is a quite extensive area on dry land.
So, since I come from that area, more precisely from Oriago di Mira, a countryside village situated along the River Brenta, I actually never had the occasion, in my 40 years of age, of travelling on a rowing boat.
That is until last sunday…….when an American turned Venetian friend offered to my family and I to experience the Serenissima on her rowing boat called Sandalo Buraneo.
Well I waited 40 years, but believe me it was well worth it! At first, I must say, I was a bit afraid: the boarding wasn’t exactly promising. The boat kept rolling left to right and I suddenly remembered I wasn’t a good swimmer at all (Hey, I am a countryside girl!!!).
Thankfully my friends Nan and Amelia told me to sit right on the floor of the boat and that helped a lot.
The rolling isn’t so bad when you are sitting compared to when you are standing. My 12 year old son was as terrified as I was and kept holding on to his dad, like his life depended on that! At first Nan and Amelia skillfully rowed, Venetian style (that is standing up on the boat), through the small canals of Venice and once I got the rolling rythm I actually started to enjoy the view.
Don’t get me wrong, It was not my first time in Venice, I went to school for 5 years there, I go back many times during the year both for work or just visiting, but I never actually seen it at water level! So It was like seeing this city for the first time. It’s amazing what you miss when you dash through the crowds trying to avoid the tourists or when you travel on the vaporetto all squashed by people.
Then the girls decided it was time to go on the Gran Canal.
Well I can honestly say that it has been an hair -raising experience: between the excessive waves caused by the motor boats and the dangerous ones caused by the vaporetto, we passed from a very pleasant ride to a very scary one.
The girls were amazing, they kept control of the boat in such a way that made us scream : Girl Power!!!! Motor boats, vaporettos, gondolas…… all were passing within a few inches from us making us rolling incredibly.
Still, this did not deminish the emotion which is given by been on the Canal Grande. There is no view in the world like this!
The sun was just about to go down, the light was reflecting on the water, the waves kept breaking against our boat. I might be a local, but I never get tired of Venice!
Our friend Rene (who runs a kayak tour of Venice http://www.venicekayak.com/ and who was on the boat with us) took over from Amelia in the front rowing post and together with Nan guided us out of the Canal Grande into some small side canals, which in Venetian are call Rii (Rio in the singular).
I have to say this has been the most enjoyable part. We slowly glided through the water into this amazing scenario. The tall walls of the palaces and house surrounded us.
Now I know what people feel when riding on a gondola. By then even my son was relaxed, let go of his dad’s arm and even leaned over to touch the water.
By the end of the day he was actually standing on the boat and going in and out of it with no worries at all. He even declared he would only come back to Venice if he could go back on the boat!
After nearly 2 hours ride the rowers (and not only them) were hungry so we decided to stop for a nice cicchetto (the Venetian version of spanish tapas) in Santa Maddalena and to pay a visit to Osteria Vecia Carbonera
. After a nice cicchetto and a nice drink, all taken whilst sitting in the boat, we decided it was time to go back to dry land.
Nan and Amelia really turned this Sunday into a lovely day out and I hope that with their association they will be able to get more people to try this wonderful experience.
Together with some other women rowers they have created http://vivavogaveneta.org, , an association which is trying to get people to learn about the Venetian Traditional method of rowing, which is called Voga.
By going into their website and by enrolling (for a little fee) you will help them create awareness and also help them to carry on with their project (http://vogadoc.org/the-vogadoc-project/preview-the-voga-documentary/) which is, I quote,:
. promote, embrace and document the culture and practice of the voga alla veneta for leisure and sport
. hold tight to the true soul of Venice that it represents
. and to share them with all the world.
So, let’s all get rowing!!!!!!!