Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Note on the Bow

I've seen these all over Venice - small pieces of paper tucked under the edge of the canon or other bow fixture.

The first time I saw one, there was no gondolier around, so I thought maybe he'd left a note for someone in case they showed up before he returned.

Then I saw more of them.

I thought "wow, there sure are a lot of gondoliers leaving notes for people".

After a while I started to see some uniformity and began to consider other possibilities.

Insurance papers?

Vessel registration?

Release of liability if a guy proposes on board and his lady rejects him?

Nereo Zane sent me this photo, and after some inspection, it appears to be a price list.

The way these are posted faithfully, I'd guess that they are required, or at least strongly encouraged.
Have any of my readers read one?
Thus far I haven't plucked one off a guy's bow to get a closer look.

I've thought about grabbing one, but then I get this look:

I can just hear him now:
"What are you lookin' at!"


Bob Easton said...

Sure looks like a rate list. After enlarging Nereo's picture and increasing the contrast a bit, I can read the rate of tariff in five languages. A daytime tour of 40 minutes for up to 6 passengers is 80 Euros. (I assume per passenger.)

The smaller print is too hard to make out, other than I see 20 minutes and half the price.

I think you're correct in surmising they are required to be shown. We can see the word "Instituzion" in the space between the ribbon ends.

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

> A daytime tour of 40 minutes for up to 6 passengers is 80 Euros. I assume per passenger.

Actually the price is fixed per gondola, even if it is for just one person or all six of them. Budget tourists like to group for this reason, to share the price.

If the cruise is of longer duration or starts after sunset, there is an extra fee, which is also officially regulated. Live music can raise the price, too.

However, this bureaucratic explanation is somewhat disappointing! For the first glance, I thought the papers in the picture were some kind of a good luck charm or votive text for safety, but reality is not that romantic.

(Of course there isn't much hazard for gondoliers, unless a vaporetto helmsman mistakes them for the PT-109... On the other hand, venetian fishermen made a lot of votive memorabilia for storm protection.)