Monday, June 15, 2009

A Whole Different Kind of Upholstery

I shot these hangin' over the rail of the Vaporetto late one afternoon near Rialto.
This guy was fourth or fifth in a series of gondoliers who passed by us in the opposite direction.
I had noticed that the lighting was good and just started shooting. Next thing I knew, this gondolier with a really sweet boat rowed by me.

He had a number of the extras you see on only a few gondolas:
- Gold-plated cavalli of the "sirena" type (sirens - they look like mermaids).
- A rich, black tapeto (the gondolier's carpet) with yellow trim matching other parecio items.
- The scimier (that decoration resting atop the seat-back) is big and luxurious.
- He's got two remi, both painted with the traditional chevron striping. I don't know if that second remo is a backup, or if it's intended for a second rower up front.
A better view of the blade-tip or an exact measurement might help.

- Then there's the strasino (that draping cloth "cape" that attaches to the edge of the seat-back), in it's timeless brocade pattern.

The most eye-catching feature about the boat though, was her seats.
They were done in a diamond-pleat design in a golden-yellow material which appears to be either leather or a soft vinyl.

Clearly, this guy loves his gondola.
He's put a lot of capitol and creativity into her.

The result is a boat that I'm sure many gondoliers would gladly steal - if she weren't so easily recognizable.


grigory-never-get-there said...

Ha! You could see from the look on his face, he knows his boat is the stuff. I'm awaiting the onslaught of photos with much anticipation, Greg!

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

Most gondolas I saw during the three days also carried an extra oar. At 80-100 euros per turn the business may be too lucrative to cancel sorties due to equipment failure? I didn't see any two-person crew tourist gondolas, however.

As for the seats, it would be a shame if that was vinyl, after all Italy is the world's centre for quality upholstery and leather works, e.g. Ferrari car seats!

However I remember that last year the Major of Venice supported the Gondola Association's initiative to crack down on fancy boat trimmings that do not meet historic sumptuary regulations (floorcarpets and seats considered too colourful or baroque). Looks like gondoliers weren't that keen about returning to the plague era all-black scheme...

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

Oops, what happened to the famous gondolier's hat? It just occured to me that I probably didn't see a single gondolier wearing a hat in three days and Greg's photos also show them with a bare head.

Gondola Greg said...

That guy DID have a hat, but chose to keep it on the deck in front of him.
You are correct though - I never see many gondoliers in hats.