Saturday, October 20, 2007

“Free Gondola Ride”

I just finished reading “Free Gondola Ride” by Kathleen Ann Gonzalez…for the fourth time. I love the book. A few years ago I gave it to some gondolier friends as a Christmas gift. I don’t know if they have re-read it like I have, but I enjoy the escape and, at under 240 pages, it’s an easy one to carry around. In the world of gondolas, there are very few books that don’t concentrate solely on the boats.

“Free Gondola Ride” is written first-person by a woman who traveled to Venice with the goal of performing a series of “clinical” interviews with various gondoliers in order to write an expose on the men who row the romantic boats in Venice. While the plan didn’t quite work the way she’d hoped, Gonzalez quickly followed a new approach which not only yielded some great stories, but also many friendships, resulting in more depth and detail than she would have gathered under the original approach. The book offers a rare look into the lives and personalities of some of Venice’s most visible boatmen. Her experiences with the gondoliers vary, as do their personalities. This group of experiences, retold in an easy-to-follow format, is interesting for several different reasons; chances are if you like gondolas, you’ll enjoy experiencing Kathleen’s experiences with her.

To learn more about the book, visit

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