Don’t just sit there…Row Venice for yourself!

Buongiorno book-it-listers!

Another chapter from my amazing trip to Venice and I just had to share this with you. Whenever you picture Venice I know myself and many of you will visualise the Gondola rides.

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These iconic modes of transport used to be the ways that the rich and famous would get around Venice, like the modern day limousine. There were many gondola rides and people offering them throughout the streets of Venice and we were tempted at first. Now many of you may disagree with me but it used to have this romanticised feeling about this gondola ride but with the mass amount of tourists it seems to have lost its private speciality.

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Throughout some of the canals close to San Marco Square there was many gondola rides going on as to be expected but it just seemed to lower the excitement. They were all queued up and it was like you were paying 80 Euros to be stuck in traffic…

The official rates for gondola rides that we found in Venice were 80 Euros for 40 minutes up to six people can share a gondola. The prices would be more expensive if you chose to share it between the two of you if you were a couple and fancied a romantic ride. Yet if you were to share it would lower the cost but you would be stuck with a bunch of strangers.

Do not get me wrong we definitely considered doing a gondola ride as you can not go to Venice without the experience. This is when my research into fellow bloggers has come in handy. I have found a wonderful blogger named Julia Dent ‘Philly with a Fjallraven‘ she has just returned from Italy and had a great experience with a company named Row Venice. It sounded really interesting so I did a bit of research.

Row Venice is a non-profit organisation run mainly by women. Previously women found it very difficult to become a gondolier due to the ancient tradition of once a male gondolier would pass away this title would be passed onto the son. In recent times this has changed as Giorgio Boscolo inherited the right to become a gondolier and has become the First Female Gondolier, you go girl!!

These wonderful ladies have made it possible for us everyday folk to give the traditional Venetian Rowing a go. Even more incredibly there are only 7 of the traditional batelina boats left in Venice and these lucky lot have 4 of them. These batelina’s used to be the everyday mode of transport for locals like their version of our local bus service or Ford Fiesta’s.

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The Batelina

The Lesson: 

Me and my boyfriend took part in their Venetian Rowing Lesson. We paid 85 Euros for both us for a 1hr 30 minute lesson. Their operating area is located in the lovely quiet area of Canareggio where we were staying. We were then met by the welcoming Sibylle and were shown to our batelina.

She helped us on the boat and gave us an explanation of the boat and it’s history. Then without any messing around she explained the way they row in these boats and let me have a go. I started off by rowing at the front of the boat helping to basically motor the boat and it uses a lot of body power…more than I thought!

We took it in turns up and down the canal and it was so peaceful, by the time we knew it we were out on the lagoon. Sibylle demonstrating how shallow the water actually is and the reason why the boats are made with a flat bottom so we don’t tipple over. It was really surprising and made me slightly less hesitant.

We then took it in turns to have a go standing on the back of the boat to operate the steering and again it was hard work. We had a few rocky moments with a few waves as speedboats went by and I immediately sat down so I didn’t fall over!

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We look like experts don’t we?

We had such an amazing time and were mentioned to be a very good couple of gondoliers so if anything goes wrong in our future careers, no worries everyone we have a back-up plan!

It was such an incredible experience and we then took it in turns rowing back to the starting point, I’m not going to lie I was getting quite used to getting rowed around by my boyfriend I could have sat around all day soaking up the architecture and peacefulness of the area.

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My personal Gondolier. 

This lesson was incredible value for money to actually have the opportunity to row around Venice ourselves we could not appreciate it enough. We had to say goodbye to Sibylle and I thanked her for the opportunity and just had to mention what amazing ladies they were. It takes a hell of a lot of body power to move these boats and I was definitely surprised, so we definitely deserved our gelato afterwards.

Sibylle recommended Bacar del Gelato just around the corner from the meeting point and it definitely was the best gelato we had the whole trip! 

If any of you are going to Venice please go and support these ladies and take part in a lesson or if you fancy something different you can take part in these:

  • Cicchetto Row: at a cost of €240 for two, €260 for three, and €280 for four people. It is a combination of learning to row & learning to eat like a true Venetian. It is a 2hr 30 minute lesson and you are provided with food and drinks.
  • Evening Row Canal Grande: at a cost of €180 for 1hr 30 minutes for each batelina (for up 4 people). This is a lesson arranged to start just before sunset as most tourists have vacated Venice and it is a lot quieter and more peaceful.
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Myself and the wonderful Sibylle

Please do not hesitate if you are heading to Venice go and check out the ladies at https://rowvenice.org and let them know I sent you.

Trust me you will not regret it!

Let me know your thoughts on this post, I love to share these unique experiences as it is how I found out about it through a fellow blogger.

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Thank you so much for reading!

Rhianna

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I study Tourism Management at Sheffield Hallam University and have a passion for travel writing and research.

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