Saturday, October 2, 2010

Traghetto Santa Sofia

After my post from September 27th, Bob Easton encouraged me to delve deeper into the subject of this ancient vessel - the "traghetto".

Built in many ways like her well-known cousin - the gondola, a gondola da traghetto or simply traghetto is a true Venetian workhorse. Taking heavy foot traffic, and bumping into things throughout the day, it's no surprise that this vessel is built more heavily.
A traghetto is also wider, giving her more stability, and this is important because most of her passengers stand during their voyage across the Canale Grande.
Carrying such a load, these boats are generally rowed by two gondoliers.

Some passengers might choose to sit:
elder Venetians, mothers with babies, and of course, clueless tourists. 
Everyone else stands.

Boarding the boat, you pay the forward oarsman, who tosses the coins on or near the bow - making quick change with what's on the deck. 
I once annoyed one of these guys by producing a 5 Euro bill with a bunch of Venetians behind me in line.
Talk about a "rookie move".
Needless to say, exact change is appreciated.

Venice has three, scratch that, four bridges now to cross the Grand Canal by.  Crossing in other places is done by one of these boats, which have served as ferries for centuries.
The action shots in this post are from the Santa Sofia traghetto, which touches dock on the western shore near the fish market.

Not everyone in a servizio relishes the task of rowing traghetto.
I've heard stories of gondoliers with seniority trying to manipulate the system so the younger rowers spend more time doing the ferrying. 
Then there are stories of guys who love rowing traghetto - it gives them a chance to catch up with locals as they step on and off the boat. 
More than once I've been told:
"You want to get better at rowing? Row traghetto."
I'm certain that it's true, and if given the chance, I'd love to spend a week doing so.
Maybe there are a few guys with seniority who'd like me to cover their shifts.
I'm sure it isn't easy.

To read another post, featuring a traghetto at San Toma, take a look at my post from January of this year, entitled "Traghetto at Rest - San Toma". 


Bob Easton said...

Thanks Greg!
Showing people standing (and a couple of tourists sitting) does indeed demonstrate the stability of these workhorse boats. Thanks for the pics.

For those who haven't had the pleasure of visiting Venice... One might ask. OK, let's just walk down to the next bridge, cross, and walk back to that yellow building over there.

Yeah, right! Notice in these pictures that even if you can see the next bridge, there are no walkways along most of the canal. The walkways are between the buildings, away, sometimes far away, from the water. The path to the next bridge is often a labyrinth of many many steps. Coming back on the other side, the same.

I made this mistake once, long ago. My wife, the more experienced visitor said, "OK buster, you wanna walk. Let's go." About 40 minutes later we reached that yellow building.

We use traghetti now! (or plan our travel more carefully)

Tamás said...

It is also possible to cross using the slower vaporetto lines, which stop on both banks of the Canal Grande.