When we travel as a family, I'm pretty easygoing about where we stay,
and a lot of other details of the trip. But my wife (who is a travel agent)
knows to consult me on every detail when we go to Venice.
Such was the case when we were planning our visit this past September.
One of the most important choices was:
Which apartment to stay in?
We chose one that was just behind the La Fenice opera house, on the
regular route of the gondoliers of the traghetto at Santa Maria del Giglio.
At any given time I could step out the door,
peer out a window,
or even climb out on to the windowsill,
and watch an endless procession of gondolas passing by.
I quickly noticed that almost every gondolier who passed by,
planted his left foot on the wall in one or more of the same spots.
Here's a collection of shots I snapped of the famous "Venetian foot-plant".
This guy has legs about as short as mine!
But he manages to plant that left foot perfectly.
The guy behind him does it...while on the phone.
And then he does it again!
He had to hang up for this one.
This guy makes it look more athletic.
The subtle and lesser-known "toe plant".
This guy plants twice as well.
here's the first...
...and here's the second.
Lastly, Mister Mohawk plants it like he's at the top of a halfpipe.
I watched these guys day in and day out - executing this move,
and the ensuing turn that followed, perfectly.
The first "gondolas" in Venice were shorter and simpler
than the ones there today.
Over the years the boat has grown, both in length and complexity.
I've heard it said that the progression of length in the gondola stopped
quite simply because anything longer than 11 meters wouldn't be able to fit through some of these passages and tight turns.
After watching the gondoliers beneath our window, I tend to believe that.
What's amazing is how well they handle it.
I suppose planting the foot might help.