INSIDE THE MIND OF A GONDOLIER OF NAPLES ISLAND,
The Gondoliers of Venezia, Italia are the true ambassadors of their City. They are not only trained to expertly row a Gondola through the twisting, winding, crowded canals of Venezia but they are trained to know a thousand years of history, the height of hundreds of bridges and basically every stone of the ancient city. Well, here in Naples our Gondoliers only need to know over “100’s” of years of History, but they too are trained in a way to be the ambassadors of our own Naples Islands. They too, have become a fabric of the community and it is my job to make sure they represent Naples Islands well.
Gondoliers ARE the locals of the Islands of Naples
Though I have had many a Gondolier that was born and raised on the Island, many are from the surrounding communities. Through training and study they all become “locals” of the Islands waterways. The customers get a lot of questions while they are being introduced to our intoxicatingly beautiful backyard. What is the cost of these homes? Who owns these boats and docks? Are these just all Vacation homes? How deep is the water? Can you swim here? Does anybody famous live here? These are a small fraction of the questions, but the Gondolier is trained to be the resident expert on all subjects pertaining the Island, waterways and history. They are trained to understand that when talking to their customer, they are also talking with the residents. Respect and privacy is paramount. The Gondolier shares with their guests the blessings of living in such a place and celebrates the uniqueness of the Islands of Naples.
The colors of an evening exiting the Rivo Alto Canal
Negotiating the water traffic
In recent years you have probably noticed the increased traffic within the canals of rental Duffy’s, kayaks, paddle boards and pedal boats. It is the Gondoliers job to navigate safely through our waterways through the 1,000’s of neophytes on the water. The Gondoliers knowledge and respect for these enchanting canals and residents puts him/her in a position to coach, suggest, report and help guide the masses safely around the Island. These “ambassadors” are the only professionals navigating these canals and have a deep sense of responsibility to help protect the integrity and the beauty of Naples Islands and its waterways. They are trained to be the voice of not only “Pavarotti” ha ha, but also of the authority to curb bridge jumping, climbing on docks, profanity, loud music and out of control boats banging into the sides of residents vessels. At night the Gondolier silently rows the sleek black boats with romantic couples while he/she also keeps a watchful eye on the community.
These men and women in stripes are truly “residents” of the Islands waterways. They are out training long before the maddening crowd of renters arrive and are there long after the flock of florescent rentals are gone. The Gondoliers are as much there for the residents, as they are for their guests.
In a word…..”Ciao!’
So if you see a Gondolier passing neath a bridge or along the canal, shout a big CIAO! He/She is your ambassador and your neighbor. I am a 50+ year resident of Naples and I feel like the Gondoliers are my gift of gratitude to an Island that I love so much. I can’t be keeping an eye on our waterways all the time myself, so I keep training Gondoliers/Ambassadors who can be there when I am not!
Treasure Island bridge with a ‘Local” Gondolier
Have you hugged your Gondolier today?