Saturday, July 16, 2011

Servizio Gondola Ferrovia

While rowing together in Newport a while back, Chris Clarke and I landed on the topic of "one's first glimpse of Venice".

He and I had both taken our first look at La Serenissima after walking out of the train station.
Chris turned the phrase perfectly. 
He said "It's like a portal to another world".

For me it most certainly was, and my first view of Venice could not have been more dream-like.
The late afternoon sunlight shined in at an angle,
casting a golden light on everything.
Shadows and architectural details were enhanced.
Vaporetti and water taxis cruised up and down the Grand Canal.
Long black gondolas bobbed by with the sun's reflection playing along their complex curves.

I had studied this place for many years, seen all sorts of photos and video, read up extensively, and yet that first encounter was breathtaking.

With the exception of cruise ship travelers, most visitors to Venice come in by road or rail.  This section of the canal serves as the "first look" location for a multitude of jet-lagged, travel-weary, and over-stimulated people.
Looking on her for the first time can be an emotional experience.

There are many gondola services along the Grand Canal, but the one I saw first was the "Servizio Gondola Ferrovia" - aptly named as it sits directly across the water from the train station. As it was explained to me by friends in Venice, "Ferrovia" essentially translates down to "iron road".
 This is not a very large operation, but they've got a nice little casoto, with all the trappings for a good picture. 
No doubt this place is photographed regularly.
I shot this series of images early in the day, and as I aimed my long lens across the Canalazzo, I noticed some folks haggling for a gondola ride.
Soon after, a gondolier made his way to his boat and began primping her for the cruise that would likely begin soon.

This was a nice gondola, with fresh paint, gold-leaf accents, and an eye-catching draped cloth from the back of the seat.
It was clear that this guy took pride in his boat.
Venetians are a funny lot when it comes to tradition, and new technology.
I've met many who'd rather use a sessola (similar to an ice scoop), than hassle with a hand pump or shopvac.
As many are purists, lots of gondoliers also gravitate towards a chamois, or "shammy" as many Americans call it, over towels or rags.
This guy was quick and effective with the chamois,
he'd probably done the drill five-hundred times.

Funny thing - the gondolier with the chamois was done prepping the gondola before his potential passengers were done haggling over the details with the guy in the office.

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