As you might well imagine, Venice is no ideal city for cheap accommodation. If you want to enjoy the privilege of being awaken by the typical Venetian morning noises (made up of gondolieri’s voices, boats’ and ferries’ motors, people’s shouts, and so on) and with a nice view on the Canal Grande from your bedroom’s window you must be ready to pay for it.
If you ever spent a few days in Venice, either for your wedding, honeymoon or holiday, you might choose to treat yourself with something very typical of this magic city: a gondolatour on the channels.
In this article you find a historical introduction and some practical advice for couples wanting to enjoy this kind of experience.
The “gondola” is a traditional Venetian boat which has been used at least from the 15th century for private transportation, mostly by rich people. Common people, instead, could only afford using the “gondolino” (a kind of public transportation service) to cross the Canal Grande from one bank to the other, as most Venetians still do nowadays.
Noble families and courtesans used gondolas to move around Venice, enjoy fresh air at night during summer, parading along the channels, and even as garconnière or gambling areas. In order to limit these “dissolute” habits, at the beginning of the 17th century the Venetian authorities decided to forbid colorful coatings and sumptuous decorations and gondolas turned black, a color which was only used for the lower section’s waterproofing layer until that time.
Gondolas are built-in traditional shipyards called “squeri” which (although in limited amount) can be still seen in Venice. The building process requires special craftmanship and 280 different pieces made of 8 kinds of wood.
There are several gondola docks all over Venice where you can hire a gondola for a tour. You find one near Santa Lucia railway station, one near San Marco Square, one near Rialto bridge, one along Strada Nuova road, and many others along the small channels all over the city. You can easily recognize the “gondoliere” (the gondola sailor) by his black-and-white striped shirt and straw hat and by his shouting “gondoooooola, gondooooooola!” to catch your attention.
Any time of the day and night is fine to enjoy a gondola tour, just be aware that prices are higher at nighttime. Needless to say, the most romantic time is the sunset when gondola renters have the chance to admire Venetian channels and palaces from a different perspective and imbued in a soft light and tender atmosphere. Beside, gondolas are provided with many accessories (carpets, soft chairs, cushions, colorful and carved decorations, etc.) making the journey as pleasant as possible.
Take care of choosing the tour route which is most suitable to you, since different itineraries are available. Consider the idea of bargain a bit over the price, which is officially 80 Euros (110 Euros at nighttime) for 40 minutes for up to 6 people but might be cheaper during low season times. If you get more expensive offers, be careful: they might be either proposing extra services or else trying to cheat you:-)
One of the most exciting thing about working as a photographer for couple photo portraits, honeymoon, wedding and engagement services in Venice is that it gives me the chance to work for different kinds of clients, coming from different countries and sharing different cultures.
In the first phase of our informal photo walk in Venice, they just behaved as most young couples in love: I had them hug, kiss, and dance in many nice Venetian spots, giving them the possibility to get familiar with my presence and work.
In the second phase of the couple photo shooting, they changed their attire and wore traditional Jewish suites which added a touch of color and a special exotic flavor to my shots.
In the meanwhile they had relaxed and were eventually feeling at ease in front of my camera and even felt confident enough to start dancing in a square. That’s why the shots of this phase look so intense and even a bit “exotic”…don’t you think?
For further examples of couple photo portraits in Venice see my website.
One of the most common situation during a couple photo service is that the couple do not feel at ease posing in front of the camera. This is mostly due to the fact that they decided to have a photo portrait for their wedding, honeymoon, or holiday in Venice and this is perhaps their first photo shooting (or one of the first) in their life.
Beside, in most cases, they are not familiar with the photographer whom they just met that day and feel a bit uncomfortable about his presence, glances and work.
My own strategy to overcome this problem is to spend as much time as possible with the couple and let them relax and get used to my presence. First of all, I propose to meet well before the photo session for an informal interview: while chatting in a café, we can get a bit more acquainted with each other and I can get important pieces of information about the couple’s wishes and personality.
I used this method with a young couple who lately hired me for a honeymoon photo service: Irina and Simon felt a bit uncomfortable, even nervous, in the beginning, which explains the lightly “stiff”, almost awkward look of the first shots.
However, the photo walk had a very relaxing effect on them: they enjoyed Venice’s markets and small alleys where I even asked them to dance and jump and, eventually, the last shots managed to catch very intense, spontaneous glances and feelings.
For further examples of couple portraits in Venice see my website.