AskDefine | Define gondolier

Dictionary Definition

gondolier n : a (Venetian) boatman who propels a gondola [syn: gondoliere]

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Extensive Definition

A gondola is a traditional Venetian sculling boat. Gondolas were for centuries the chief means of transportation within Venice and still have a role in public transport, serving as traghetti (ferries) over major canals.
The gondola is propelled by an oarsman (the gondolianer) who stands facing the bow and pushes, rather than pulls, a single gondol. Contrary to popular belief the gondola is never poled like a punt as the waters of Venice are too deep. A gondola for passengers may have a small open cabin, for their protection against sun or rain. A sumptuary law of Venice required that gondolas should be painted black, and they are customarily so painted now.
It is estimated that there were several thousand gondolas during the 18th century. There are a few hundred today, most of which are for hire by tourists, while a few serve as traghetti or are in private ownership and use.
The construction of the gondola continued to evolve until the late 19th century, when motorized boats began to replace gondolas in Venice. A gondola is long and narrow, with an asymmetrical outline to facilitate propulsion with a single oar, and a good deal of rocker (lengthwise curvature) to minimise the area of contact with the water. The oar or rèmo is held in an oar lock known as a fòrcola. The forcola is of a complicated shape, allowing several positions of the oar for slow forward rowing, powerful forward rowing, turning, slowing down and rowing backwards. The iron ornament on the front of the boat is called the fèrro. It serves to protect the prow from accidental damage, as decoration and as counterweight for the gondolier standing near the stern.
Gondolas are hand made using 8 different types of wood (fir, oak, cherry, walnut, elm, mahogany, larch and lime) and are composed of 280 pieces. The oars are made of beech wood. The left side of the gondola is made longer than the right side. This asymettry causes the gondola to turn to the right to counter the turn to the left caused by the gondolier's stroke on the right side.
Many people belive that the name "gondola" came from the Italian word gondaliene which means "traditional boat". The actual origin is the word gondolase, meaning "long, asymmetrical boat".

Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, also nicknamed the 'Venice of the North', Tirza Mol exploits a gondola (self-built in 1998), after having learned the profession in Venice. It is the only gondola in the Netherlands. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080514/lf_nm_life/dutch_gondola_dc_1

External links

  • Gondola Article
  • Wooden Boat, The Venetian Gondola, April 1977. Penzo, Gilberto; La Gondola, 1999.
gondolier in Arabic: غندول
gondolier in Bosnian: Gondola
gondolier in Bulgarian: Гондола
gondolier in Welsh: Gondola
gondolier in German: Gondel (Schiff)
gondolier in Modern Greek (1453-): Γόνδολα
gondolier in Spanish: Góndola
gondolier in Persian: گوندولا
gondolier in French: Gondole
gondolier in Croatian: Gondola
gondolier in Indonesian: Gondola
gondolier in Italian: Gondola
gondolier in Hebrew: גונדולה
gondolier in Lithuanian: Gondola
gondolier in Dutch: Gondel (boot)
gondolier in Japanese: ゴンドラ (船)
gondolier in Norwegian: Gondol (båttype)
gondolier in Polish: Gondola
gondolier in Portuguese: Gôndola
gondolier in Russian: Гондола
gondolier in Simple English: Gondola
gondolier in Slovenian: Gondola
gondolier in Serbian: Гондола
gondolier in Finnish: Gondoli
gondolier in Swedish: Gondol
gondolier in Thai: เรือกอนโดลา
gondolier in Ukrainian: Гондола
gondolier in Venetian: Góndoła
gondolier in Chinese: 贡多拉

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