Where did this one come from? One evening I was leafing through the holiday section of a newspaper and a small colourful advert showing a gondola jumped out at me. I liked it immediately. For some reason I forgot the advert and threw the newspaper in the outside bin. Lying in bed one night I thought I must retrieve that advert. Before turning out the bedside lamp I threw my spectacles on the carpet in the middle of my room; this always reminds me that I have something to do the next morning.† It worked. While waiting for milk to warm for breakfast I dug the paper out of the bin, cut out the advert and painted my own version. Here it is.
Why had the advert grabbed me? I just loved the colours, the simplicity, the sunís reflection on the canal surface. I searched Google for the painting but couldnít find anything so I thought Iíd painted a version for myself. The advert was small so I scanned it then printed a bigger version. The predominant colour is red and, subconscious bubbling away it put me in mind of a full set snooker balls (most balls are red.) I put the small advert on my snooker table with the balls just to show this (see pic.)
It didnít take long to complete the painting. I was dreading painting the oar as straight lines arenít easy. After the first sitting I went for an evening walk. An old TR7 car (with those cool pop-up head lights) drove passed so, as gondolas must have some official markings, I daubed ďTR7" on the side in fuzzy gold paint.
You canít just buy a gondola and starting rowing around Venice. At the time of writing there 425 licensed gondoliers (down from 10,000 in the year 1700.) They serve an apprenticeship which involves a comprehensive exam which tests knowledge of Venetian history, landmarks and foreign language skills.
The oar (or rmo) is held in an oar lock known as a fůrcola and its strange shape is the key to steering. Its allows several positions of the oar for slow forward rowing, powerful forward rowing, turning, slowing down, rowing backwards, and stopping. The ornament on the front of the boat is called the frro (meaning iron) and can be made from brass, stainless steel, or aluminium. It serves as decoration and as counterweight for the gondolier standing near the stern.
Gondolas are handmade up from 280 pieces using 8 different types of wood (fir, oak, cherry, walnut, elm, mahogany, larch and lime.) The left side of the gondola is made longer than the right side (this stops it turning left.)