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Venice Gondolas Will Carry Fewer Passengers Because Tourists Are Getting Fatter

You can’t go to Italy and not visit Venice, the one-of-a-kind city “wedded to the sea,” which offers the chance to explore it by sailing along the canals on the world-famous gondolas. As of July 21, you will be able to do this with a smaller company.
Gondolas will carry fewer tourists in Venice due to concerns on excess total weight 12 photos
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Until July 21, a gondola da nolo (a privately-hired boat) could carry up to six passengers, while the gondola da parada (also known as traghetto) would ferry up to 14. These numbers have been cut to five and 12, respectively, and the reason is that tourists’ weight has ballooned in recent years, a rep for the gondoliers union tells The Guardian.

“It’s true that compared to 10 or 15 years ago, tourists weigh a bit more,” Andrea Balbi, president of Venice’s gondoliers association, explains. “Unlike in a lift, where there’s a message that says ‘only six people or a maximum weight’, we don’t have scales to weigh people, and so we reduced the number of passengers.”

The decision has been prompted by recent observations that a fully-capacity gondola would take water because the entire hull became submerged. This meant it was running a risk of sinking. In addition to that, Balbi explains, the da nolo was never meant for six passengers because there are cushioned seats only for five people, so one person was always scooching over.

Raoul Roveratto, the president of the association of substitute gondoliers, is blunter in explaining the problem. “Tourists are now overweight. From some countries, bombs load [on to the boats]. And when [the boat] is fully loaded, the hull sinks and water enters. Advancing with over half a tonne of meat on board is dangerous,” Roveratto says.

In the end, it’s a matter of keeping the people on the boat, including the gondolier, safe from drowning.

Speaking of gondoliers, their association goes back to 1094 and comprises today 433 gondoliers and 180 substitute gondoliers. The gondolier license can be transferred within the same family, without the newer licensee having to pass an exam, as long as he or she can attest to a 4-year experience (of sailing the canals) with the family business.

 
 
 
 
 

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