If you ask any gondolier about the best gondola ride in Venice, he will smile and ask you to listen to a long story from long time ago, between calli and little canals. On board this historic boat, you will discover Venice through the tales told by those who live close to the water every day.
The gondola is 11 meters long, made up of 280 different hand-made pieces, and can carry up to 6 people. The typical iron prow-head of the gondola, called ferro di prua, represents the six sestieri of Venice, the Giudecca island, the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal. It’s not by chance that the gondola is Venice’s best known symbol, famous throughout the world.
Would you like to know how much a gondola ride is in Venice? The municipal rates are the same for the entire city – a regular ride costs 80 euros for 30 minutes. The time variation depends on the weather and traffic between the main and secondary canals. If the weather allows, we recommend enjoying your ride after 7pm: the rate increases to 100 euros, but seeing the sunset aboard a gondola is unforgettable.
A few steps from the hotel, you can start your gondola tour. Head to Ponte delle Guglie: a place where gondoliers work. With experience and professionalism, they will lead you along the Grand Canal to discover the city and its famous buildings.
Aboard the gondola, let yourself be carried by the waves and enjoy the ride sitting comfortably on the soft sofa. Leaving the Rio di Cannaregio, you’ll see the first mansion along the way: Fondaco dei Turchi. This building takes its name from its original function as a warehouse for Turkish merchants. Currently, it houses the Civic Museum of Natural History.
Continuing along the main canal, you’ll admire the well-known Palazzo Loredan Vendramin Calergi: this is a great example of Renaissance style in Venice. Nowadays, it houses the oldest gambling house in the world, the Casino of Venice.
Not far from the Casino, there are two other important buildings: the first one is Ca’ Pesaro, a masterpiece by the famous Venetian architect Baldassare Longhena. Thanks to the donation from a Venetian aristocratic family, the building became city property, and the International Gallery of Modern Art was placed inside. On the other side of the canal, near the waterbus stop, there is the wonderful Ca d’Oro: its name derives from the fact that originally the façade was entirely covered with gold. Nowadays, the palace houses the remarkable Giorgio Franchetti Gallery.
Shortly afterwards, you’ll have an enchanting view of the main bridge of the city, the Rialto Bridge. This bridge is one of the symbols of Venice, and the oldest connection point between the two parts of the island.
Palazzo dei Camerlenghi is located on the right side of the bridge: its austere look is strictly connected with the function that took place there, tax control. Continuing the tour, we can’t fail to mention Ca ‘Foscari. Considered the oldest business school in Italy, the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice is known throughout the world for its strong international connections.
A few meters after Ca’ Foscari, there is Palazzo Pisani Moretta: one of the most exclusive events of the Venice Carnival takes place here, the Ballo del Tiepolo. Surrounded by magnificent Murano glass chandeliers, several lucky guests enjoy the party with their historical dresses rented in the most famous Venetian ateliers.
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Moving your gaze beyond the canal, you will see a complex of four buildings side by side: Palazzo Mocenigo “Casa Vecchia” is the most famous, because a lot of illustrious characters stayed there during their holidays in Venice. Lord Byron was one of them and, inside his room, he composed the first two cantos of his Don Juan.
After passing the Accademia Bridge, your attention will be drawn to Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the historic house of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection since 1951. The Istrian stone façade of the building is the backdrop to many summer cocktail parties that take place on the terrace suspended over the canal.
Frescoes and paintings by famous Venetian painters are just barely visible on the facades of these historic buildings: unfortunately, time and salt air have erased them, leaving just plaster behind. Fortunately, Ca’ Dario remained intact in its beauty: a jewel that, both outside and inside, gives visitors an idea of the magnificence of the Venetian past ages.
After admiring the numerous historic palaces along the Grand Canal, the magnificence of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute and the view of the San Giorgio Maggiore Island will be the perfect end of your tour.
The entire journey will take more than 30 minutes, but surely, you will enjoy the best gondola ride in Venice.
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