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Date: Friday, August 1, 1958
Place: Venice
Weather: Warmer than yesterday!

We had the experiences today to end all experiences! The tour this morning started with a tour of a glass-blowing factory. We watched a man make a glass vase (first it is heated in a fire and then shaped). Got Mom some hand blown fruit ($23.00) – real expensive and the salesman threw in an extra piece and gave Judy S. and I each a darling horse. The rest of the group had left by this time and we wanted to got to St. Mark’s Square just across the canal. We asked a fellow with a Gondola how much it would cost and he started with 2.50 and worked down to 1.60, but we ended up by taking the boat for only 2ยข!

Went to get my money from American Express and they gave me two one-hundred dollar checks. Good luck on getting them changed in Rome! Got a gondola charm ($4.00) and a darling bracelet ($3.20) and then back for lunch wearing our gondola hats (64 cents)!

The heat is really terrible so we went down to the hotel’s private beach for a a swim! More fun. The water is salt water but it felt wonderful! Got sunburned and pinched and taken for a boat-ride by our friendly waiters! Our date for the gondola ride was just a riot. The boys arrived complete with a guitar. Judy H. stepped off into the water, they sang and played off key, and went swimming in the canal! To end it all we went to Arthur’s hotel (just darling) and met his Mom who chased us out! Home to the straw pillows to try and sleep.

For centuries, gondolas were the primary mode of transportation along Venice’s many canals. Today, this flat-bottomed boat is more often used by tourists wishing to see the city by water. Gondolas may also be used in rowing races (regattas) or festival parades.

It is believed that the earliest use of the gondola was around 1100. The design is asymmetrical, with the left side being longer than the right. The body of a gondola is built from 280 pieces of wood from eight different tree species. Boats are always painted black – this is due to a 16th century law that banned extravagant ornamentation of the vessels.

At the front of a gondola is the ferro, a comb-shaped, ornamental piece of metal that is full of symbolism. The six teeth of the ferro are said to represent Venice’s six districts (sestiere); the arch above the teeth represents the Rialto Bridge; the overall curve of the ferro mimics the shape of the Grand Canal; and the flourish at the top represents a Doge’s cap.

Gondola ferro

Gondola ferro. Image courtesy of Alessandro Scarcella via a Creative Commons license.

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