Going to Venice, Italy and not riding a gondola is like going surfing without a surfboard.
You would be probably ashamed to tell you friends that you have been there and missed the number one attraction of the most romantic town in the Northern East part of Italy.
It is a thing you have to do and we totally agree, but be careful as to what ride you will choose or you might end up very disappointed, just like we did.
The Famous Gondolas of Venice
If you are keen on some tips on how to get the best of it, continue reading on.
Gondola rides have a set price and you probably won’t get a discount, but at least you will not be overcharged. Or so we thought. We made sure to book the tickets at the official Tourist Information Center of Venice. There you can choose from several different rides.We booked the Gondola with a Serenata as we felt like it would be perfect for a romantic ride. This ride costed €84 for 2 people. So off we went to explore the City of Canals.
There are several other rides available and you can usually book it on the day.
We were really excited as we walked around Venice and started to get the vibe of this amazing city and getting very in the mood for a special evening on the famous Gondolas. We were sure this would be the best ride of our Round the World Trip.
As we walked closer to the main channels we heard this beautiful and powerful voice echoing between the buildings located by the water. We immediately stopped doing whatever we were doing and started following this incredible voice “calling” us. After 30 minutes wondering around we found a bridge among the hundreds in Venice and we spotted an Italian guy singing his heart out while cruising calming on his gondola just underneath us. An accordion made it sound even more magic! We got ‘stuck’ at the bridge for over 45 minutes watching them and were beyond ourselves waiting for our turn to have a private singer on our gondola singing just for us! How amazing, right?
As we were afraid to miss our precious gondola we arrived at the port, ready to board about 1 hour before the departure (oops!). As it was getting close to the ride time, the amount of people that started to gather waiting and asking for the Serenata ride increased rapidly. We then realised that those guys singing before were part of our tour. ‘We would have a guy singing on our boat’, we thought. I kept telling Larissa: ‘how cool it will be’! As we waited anxiously for our evening ride a whole group of people started to create some a line and then suddenly the captain announced: ‘The 6:30pm ride will start now!’.
To our surprise, all those people waiting around us, got up and no time a huge line formed behind us. Luckily, we thought, as we were there first ones in line ‘we would get the singer on our boat’…
Unfortunately we were dead wrong. We ended up in the second boat out of 5 boats going on this ‘Serenata Ride’. We stayed in the boat just in front of the singer. I thought it would be fine, as the boats were going close together and at least we weren’t the ones in the last boat (poor guys). I was trying to be positive there.
As we were the boat number 2, we left the port and waited in the middle of the busiest canal in Venice for the rest of the group. Small boats, big boats, water taxis crossing all around while we waited patiently for 15 minutes. After the slight delay, the singer and the accordion started playing some inaudible songs as they were too far away and there was a lot of noise coming from all over. Finally after entering the small canals, we could hear the songs being played beautifully for a few seconds.
Before we reached the first corner however, another boat with another singer and accordion player were also on their way playing and singing on what seemed like a competition between who could sing louder on the channels. Well, they are Italians after all so we just got used to the overlapping Italian classics and enjoyed the views from the gondola. When we thought the other singer was finally done, so was our tour.
You can probably imagine our frustration and disappointment at the end of it.
This was our experience and we wish you don’t have to go through this like we did, so here are our tips on how to avoid this tourist trap:
- As you walk around you will see a lot of “Captains” with the gondolas waiting for people to ask them to go on a private tour. It will cost you €80 for a 30-45min ride. You might be able to negotiate with them.
- TOP TIP: If you are planning to ask you-know-what to your beloved one, this is the boat you have to take.
- Bring a drink with you or a snack, sit down and enjoy the beauty-full Venice.
- The bridge where we stayed is close to the Santa Maria del Giglio port and it is called Fondamenta Fenice (you are able to find it on Google Maps here) and you can stay there for as long as you want for free and really enjoy the music and the vibe. They go around almost non-stop, so you will be able to hear different songs as you stand there and enjoy the views and the lovely, romantic tunes.
We hope you liked our
sad not-so-romantic story and we hope those tips help you have a great time in this amazing city!
Do you have any romantic fail to share with us? We’d love to hear them so we might not feel so terribly sorry for our experience! Share them in the comments below.
Jean & Larissa