Friday, March 31, 2017

A Miracle In Providence

I know, it's a catchy title.
Realistically I should have gone with
"Another Miracle In Providence"
because this is not the first time they've done such a thing at La Gondola.

Most people these days have a very short attention span.
In fact you're probably already saying
"Get to it Greg! What the heck is this about?"

Alright, alright.
Just, just take it easy, man.

Today's post is about a remarkable gondola restoration underway in Providence, Rhode Island.
And as interesting as that might be,
it's even more fantastic to watch it in the time-lapse format that they've chosen.

This is not the link.  I'm just teasing you with a cool screen-grab image.

If you're able to, you should get yourself to a larger screen to watch it.
You just can't appreciate it on your little smartphone.
Also, get something to snack on, cut out all distractions,
and watch the whole thing.

Just trust me on this.

It's a rare view into the shop of some true professionals,
who will likely surprise you with just how far they break things down in the process of restoring this Tramontin gondola.

There are lots of shortcuts and easy-to-do quick fixes.
You won't see any of those here.

Now click the link, bring it to full screen,
and watch the first phase of restoration - the first stage of this Miracle in Providence.

If you need to, go directly to it on YouTube at

That was about four months worth of work, boiled down and sped up, so you and I could watch it in twelve and a half minutes.

And this was just the first phase.
I can't wait to see what comes next.

Big compliments go out to David "Davide" Redero,
and William "Alberto" Oberg.

When the work is all done, and she's ready to launch,
I know that she will make a great addition
to the fleet of La Gondola in Providence, Rhode Island.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Terrorist Cell in Venice Raided

I try to keep things positive here on the Gondola Blog,
but now and then something Venice-related pops up that's news-worthy.
Here's a rare example.
Let's hope there won't be more.

Italian police break up alleged jihadist cell that planned to attack Venice's Rialto Bridge

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Smoke On The Water

Our Hungarian friend Tamas Feher sent me the following images and info regarding the failed jewelry heist in Venezia.

Jewelry thieves' smoke bombs spark panic in Venice

The attached still images were recorded by the webcam 
of Hotel Concordia looking over the Piazza San Marco, 
a few minutes before, during and shortly after the 
smoke screen event, which was meant to obscure the armed 
robbery attempt of a jewelry store near Cafe Florian. 
Regrettably the image quality is not quite "CSI:4K" grade.

Best regards: Tamas Feher, Hungary.

Read a more detailed account here:

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My mother was born with the last name of O'Dean.
She had red hair and freckles.
Nothing could be more Irish than a red-haired, freckle-faced girl named Maggie O'dean, and yet we were always told that the O'dean name had come from a changed Norse name: Odin.

It seems that when the Swedish and Norwegian family first came to America, they settled into a community of Swedes who were quite puritanical and the Norwegian name Odin didn't go over too well there.
The new American colony of Swedes viewed it as evil.  
So the patriarch of the family went out and changed it to a more socially acceptable one.
The Irish were well-established in the area, 
so an apostrophized version seemed like a good choice.

I never thought I was Irish.
Then my daughter got a DNA test for her birthday.
Well guess what: turns out I'm Irish after all!
Not a huge percentage, but enough to explain my love for Guinness.
And now I think we know where my mom got her red hair and freckles.

I asked some of my staff in Newport to get me a suitable photo for this holiday, and was quite pleased with this photo of the green-floored gondola and our own Eddie McRivera on the back.

photo by Evan O'Kliewer

So on this, my 52nd year, I finally know the truth about exactly where my ancestors came from.
And I wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Monday, March 13, 2017

Engaging Photos

photos by David and Drexelle Park

Without a doubt, a gondola is the very best place to propose.
Just ask any of the folks who regularly read this blog.
Unfortunately it doesn't get photographed as often as it should.

Every time someone gets a good image of a couple
getting engaged on a gondola - I smile.
And every time one gets posted on social media - well,
I just about break into song.

The folks at D Park Photography have definitely got me singing today.
Here are two that they sent me as a "sneak peek".

The gondolier was Kyle Wolting,
rowing the Gondola Company of Newport's boat with blue floorboards,
known simply as "Blue".
Parker Harrison recently gave her rails a fresh varnishing.
It's nice to see them glowing in the light of the sun
(almost as much as the lady with the fresh engagement ring is glowing).
Like gondolas in several other US locations, these gondolas were built in the early 90's by Jim Oberst at Hill's Marine in Seal Beach, California.
They've hosted hundreds of thousands of happy couples,
many of them getting engaged.
It comes as no surprise to me, that the photographers who did such a great job capturing the moments in these photos...are actually a husband and wife team as well.
Many thanks to David and Drexelle at
Thanks also to Sean Jamieson at The Gondola Company for providing information regarding Hill's Marine.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

SUP...Across the Atlantic!

I'm not a stand-up-paddler.
I think it's really cool, and I'm sure I'd love it if I had the time,
but I've always been too busy rowing my gondola.

Over the years, I have become a real fan of the guys
who compete and pull off great expeditions on these things,
and in this style of propulsion - guys like Bart De Zwart and Will Schmidt.

Now I've got another SUP guy to give a big thumbs-up to:
Chris Bertish from South Africa.

The dude just successfully paddled
from Morocco all the way across the Atlantic to Antigua!

Special thanks to my friend and fellow gondolier Mike Bixler for bringing this to my attention.
I could pirate the article, but why do that when Adam Clark Estes of Gizmodo summed it up so well, in his piece, suitably titled:
"This Maniac Just Crossed the Atlantic on a Goddamn Paddleboard"

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Matte Black Batela

photo and video by Nereo Zane
There always seems to be something interesting going on
in the shop at the GSVVM rowing club.
Maestro Marcuzzi is a remarkable boatbuilder,
and a true asset to the club.
Nereo Zane sent me the above photo with the text:
Here is a shot of the new "batea a coa de gambaro"
taken today, almost ready to be launched.
Built by Maestro Luigino Marcuzzi.

Later, Nereo sent me this nice little walk-around of the new boat.

Most of the GSVVM boats are orange with blue trim and/or rails.
Some also have varnished wood in certain places.

But the batelas that Luigino has been building lately have been finished in a very cool matte black.

Next time I'm in the Veneto, I look forward to rowing this beauty.
She should have her official launch soon.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Two Caorlinas and a Bunch of Friends

My dear friend Nereo Zane celebrated his birthday last week in the Veneto.
And among other activities, he set out on the water with several
of his fellow GSVVM members on board two caorlina boats.

These are wide and stable vessels - perfect for such an outing.

The temperature may have been cool,
but the sun was out and everybody had a great time.

Happy Birthday Nereo!