Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Looking Up

photo by Tim Jones

What we see here is just one of a million classic snapshots 
taken in Venice - each one of them beautiful and inviting.

Based on the clothing worn by the gondolier and his passengers, 
I'm guessing this photo was shot during one of the colder months, 
or on a day that inspired the gondolier to go with a black jacket 
(the standard outer layer for gondoliers in winter).

There are so many other details here to appreciate:
first the sandoli.
Right next to the bow of the gondola is a nice shiny sandolo.

And further back there's another sandolo with a yellow tapestry-cloth seat.
Coming around the corner we see the bow of another gondola appearing, 
and a big blue moto-topo.
Interesting boat: the moto-topo.  
She is the venetian equivalent to a delivery truck in La Serenissima.
Upon closer inspection, we see that this particular topo is one of Venice's UPS trucks. Yes, she even has a UPS sticker on the side.

Mounted to the wall above the topo, we see two of those big convex mirrors as featured in the post "Mirror Mirror on the Wall".

Further over to the left there's another ubiquitous craft: a sanpierota.
Some things have changed over the years.
These were originally sailed or rowed, but there are a lot of outboard motors hanging off the backs of them these days.

Meanwhile, hanging above the doorway to the building in front of that 
sanpierota is another vestige of the past:
The load bearing beam extending out over the water was once probably 
used to hoist and move heavy items in and out of boats.  
These same beams can be seen protruding from the tops of barns - they're great for hoisting bales of hay.

Getting back to the boat in the foreground, we see lots of beautiful details.
First of all she's a wedding gondola, with fully carved decks. 
Tapestry-cloth seating, red pom-poms and three-dimensional cavalli of the horse-with-crown style.
This gondolier even has a striped remo.  Very nice.

A felze is that black hump-like housing that protects the passengers 
from cold in winter and from prying eyes as well.

It is said that the gondola lost her felze when she became a tourist boat.
Understand that this was not always the case - gondolas were private coaches and they were carriages-for-hire.  Most of the people who rode in gondolas were Venetians.  In winter it wasn't important to see the city as it went by.

At some point gondola rides became "the thing to do" for travelers, 
and because visitors are more interested in seeing this beautiful city, 
the felze covers slowly dwindled away.

You'll still see them now and then.
It's usually on display in a museum or on a gondola during a parade procession, but they aren't popular with tourists because they interfere with their ability to look up - just like the guy in the passenger seat is doing.

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