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Although of course I had heard so much about them, I had no idea how beautiful and ancient these unique boats were! The profession of Gondoliere is passed from father to son. It takes tremendous skill to maneuver these long elegant boats through the narrow and often busy canals. At present there are 400 gondolieres in Venice, I was told. During the height of the Venetian republic in the 1400's, there were 10,000 gondolieres !!
This was one of several images taken on the same day in the late winter of 2006 within just twenty minutes of one another.
Behind San Marco the little canals and streets open out into a rectangular pool just large enough to be a very useful and often bustling gondoliere's station. But it was winter, and it had been overcast and pretty uneventful here at Orseolo Basin. The scene didn't look very photogenic when I first stopped by. It was so grey, drizzling, overcast and cold......somewhat a disappointment to my photographer's eye, and I was getting ready to give up on pictures that day. So ...... since I was freezing, I stepped inside a store along the basino to purchase a nice warm scarf, and happily wrapped it snuggly around my neck. About a half hour later, when I stepped back outside, the clouds had dispersed slightly, and I could hardly believe my eyes when the sunlight peaked through, and turned the water into brilliant liquid color!!! So glad I decided to go shopping!! =)
In the sunlight one can see the beautiful detailed carving on these exotic boats which are unique in the world to Venice. I didn't know I'd fall in love with these ancient crafts, but their beauty, and the elegance of the movements of the gondolieres pushing them deftly along the narrow 'rios' or canals, is etched in my memory.