Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Traghetto Standing

Rowing tonight in Newport, I had a great time entertaining a group of four passengers. These were exactly the kind of people gondoliers hope to have on their boats; they were funny, talkative, included their gondolier in many of their conversations, and were there to have some fun.
They spent plenty of time kissing and snuggling, but as is often the case in cruises with two couples, conversations were lively and memories were made.

One passenger had recently been to Venice, but without her sweetheart with her, she chose not to book a gondola cruise in La Serenissima.
Yes, I know, I would have too, but I'm sure she had her reasons.
What she did instead, was take a couple rides with her mother on a traghetto - one of the ferry gondolas that cross the Grand Canal in different places.

A traghetto is essentially a robustly built gondola without many of the frills you'd expect to see.
(see "Resting Traghetto", "Just the Photo - Traghetto in Winter", and "Traghetto Santa Sofia")  

Typically these boats are populated by locals who are simply trying to get from point A to point B in a timely manner, but they can be fun for visitors to Venice as well.  I've actually found that some travel guides list a traghetto ride as a "cheap thrill".  Each time I've crossed the Canalazzo in one it's been a lot of fun for a small price.

 photo by Tamás Fehér

A traghetto is traditionally rowed by two gondoliers:
the rower at the back serves as the captain, while the forward rower interacts directly with the passengers - taking their payments and providing change if necessary.
Locals and anyone in the know will often stand the entire time, while tourists, the elderly, and women with young children may choose to sit.
Step aboard a traghetto wearing a hawaiian shirt and white socks, and people will think you're a tourist. Sit during the crossing...and they'll know you are.

Traghetto rowers have a job that can be rather challenging at times, after all they do cross a busy canal that serves as the "Main Street" of Venice.
Here's a short video clip of a traghetto coming into dock.

video by Peter Dever

Next time you're in Venice, and you need to get from one side of the Grand Canal to the other, see if there's a traghetto nearby.
And if you get the chance to make the crossing on one of these gondola ferries, be sure to stand.

1 comment:

Tamás said...

> I've actually found that some travel guides list a traghetto ride as a "cheap thrill"

Regrettably, those guidebooks are outdated... It is no longer cheap, as non-locals now pay 2 euros per direction (sudden 4-fold price increase).

I have a video from a tragheto crossing this Regata Storica, will send it.