Recently someone in the Veneto made statements about wanting to build gondolas out of fiberglass.
This hit the paper and has brought a lot of people's opinions out.
Nereo Zane has just posted a piece on his blog about it.
Check out "Gondole de Plastica".
This reminds me a bit of something that flew around the gondola world some years ago - someone was planning to produce forcole made by a computer-aided-machine. In the end, I don't think it happened.
Here in America we have a number of gondolas made from fiberglass, but this is Venice we're talking about now. In my opinion, it's ok to have fake trolley cars in other cities, but in San Francisco we expect to see the real thing - the same should be true for the gondola.