Monday, October 24, 2011

Venice is tradition. Escape the world as we know it and go to Venice, Italy because it is unlike any other place in the world. In America I can drive for many hours and see the same maple trees and fast food chains. No charm nothing really different. Venice is something you would read about in a fantasy book to your kids. A magical place where water is your roads.
Yes there are motor boats and fast taxi’s that should be in a James Bond movie. The finish on the wood of the taxis is more beautiful than some of the finest furniture that never goes near water. Craftsmanship is everywhere especially on the strangest type of canoe called a Gondola. Italians have always been known for their talents and their patience like making a fine violin is shown in the craftsmanship that goes into the making of a Gondola.
This strange vessel is as long as two stretch limos and is powered by a man who navigates the small watered streets like a professional never hitting anything perched on the back like a proud bird swaying with the ebb and tide of the streets. They wind through the canals just as they have done since the 14th Century. There are even wood pilings attached to the corners of the buildings so the men can kick off of them to help push the vessel forward. No steering wheel just a 20 foot stick in the water to steer. Amazing.
Along the Grand Canal which flows through the center of Venice is where you will see the most Gondolas. After all, the vessel is a tourist attraction itself. People come from thousands of miles away like 4,500 miles say from Michigan to Venice to take a 45 minute ride on the craft. It is easy to be lovers here everyone kisses in the Gondola and it is good luck to kiss under a bridge. There are now more than 400 bridges like overpasses on a highway that connect the alleyways of Venice. That is a lot of kissing.
Instead of divorce, go to Venice. You got to remember something you liked about your spouse in Venice and rekindle something. The master navigator, the Gondoliers are the men who yell and use their voices as say a car horn around the narrow curved streets. If you are lucky, the guy might feel like singing usually like a trained opera singer. Their uniform is a stripped shirt and usually has been worn by families who have had this occupation for generations.
They are proud to be a Gondolier since there are only 400 licensed . At $110 per ride they make a good living. The fee is set by the city government. He stands to one side of the boat but the a-symmetrical doesn’t tip like a canoe would. That’s because its hull is constructed so the Gondolier balances the boat. As it rises he pushes forward and not to one side. The Gondolas are custom made to fit the navigator.
Roberto Tramontin is the master craftsman of the industry. For over 30 years he has made most of the Gondolas being used today. Four generations before him has been making the crafts. Most of the work is done entirely by hand and when people see his boat shop, people say he is the Ferrari of boat making. It will take 2 months to make one Gondola. And will cost $50,000 dollars to have one. Why aren’t any of these things on American lakes somewhere? All wood, he uses oak, mahogany, walnut and cherry wood that can be elastic. He boils the wood and can bend it quite easily and creates a beautiful masterpiece with multiple curves in the wood.
The Ferro is a piece of iron that is fastened to the front of the boat like a hood ornament. It has 6 metal teeth to symbolize the six districts of Venice divided by the Grand Canal. The top looks like a medieval hat that was worn by a one time supreme leader called Adze.
It is great that there are new generations learning the craft. Some believe that when an artist dies his knowledge dies with him. These guys are sharing tips and still creating a beautiful vessel. Take the one you love there and check out the Gondolas up close.

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