-by Diana Maiola
The great strides of women over the last century are evident in every area imaginable. In politics, the workplace and society, in general, women have made great leaps forward in procuring and, hence, managing positions that were traditionally only open to men. One such woman is Giorgia Boscolo. Giorgia Boscolo, in fact, is the first woman, after a strict tradition of 900 years, to become a female gondoliere (known as gondoliera) in Venice.
Passing the entrance exam allowed her to attend the training school. She became a substitute gondoliere after passing the rigorous tests and exams with high scores. After a very involved internship, she was then allowed to be classified as an official gondoliere.
The idea of becoming a gondoliere began young for Giorgia as she always dreamed of following in the footsteps of her father Dante, who spent his whole career on the canals of Venice. Working every day in a male-dominated career has been a transition and Giorgia hopes one day to have a few female colleagues. Thankfully, most of her male counterparts have embraced her arrival on the canals.
Aldo Reato, the president of the gondoliers of Venice has said: “It was right and inevitable that we too would adapt to the changing times. I personally welcome Giorgia into the category with pride and affection, wishing her to live the gondola in the most genuine way and to love the lagoon as her father did; she too, like us, the first guardians and sentinels of an inimitable artistic, historical and human heritage."
Focused on her dream, Giorgia has demonstrated great elegance and sportsmanship in her accomplishment. In the end, she has made huge strides towards gender equality and breaking the centuries–old traditions of Venice, the Serenissima Republic.
Now a bit about the Venetian Gondola, an iconic symbol of the spectacular city of Venice, Italy. The earliest documentation of these sleek hand-made vessels dates back to the year 1094. Dark in color and with a long slender shape, it is 35.5 feet long and 4.7 feet wide. In order to accommodate navigating in very shallow waters such as those found in the endless canals of Venice, it has a flat bottom. To better balance the weight of the gondolier that flat bottom is asymmetric. In the construction of a gondola, eight different types of wood are used. Those woods are oak, larch, fir, linden, elm, walnut, mahogany and cherrywood.
The rich tradition of building the gondola in Venice is carried on in the Squero. The Squero is the artisans’ workshop and the most famous is the Squero of San Trovaso. Most of the artisans come from the mountainous areas of Belluno in northern Italy. With the collaborative work of a team of craftsmen, it takes 12 months to complete one gondola.
In 1609 a decree was issued which stated that all gondolas had to be black. This law has never been changed. If you see a gondola with accents of gold, you can be sure that it is real 24k gold leaf as nothing inferior is acceptable.
During the glory days of the Venetian Republic, there were about 10,000 gondolas in circulation. Today, there are sadly only 400. The next time you are in Venice, be sure to take a ride. It is a relaxing way to absorb the beauty of this alluring city!