Gondolas are Made of Wood

Gondola with bottom stripped
 Once I was showing some people around Venice from my home state of Michigan. Very nice people and a lot of fun. They were boaters and professed to know about boats. When I showed them the boat yard where gondolas are built and repaired, they swore that they were made of fiberglass. They were expert on the subject, and no amount of argument to the contrary would satisfy them that gondolas are in fact built entirely of wood (with the exception of a small amount of metal trim).

Over the course of last summer my friend Roberto, who is a gondolier by trade, had one built. Included here is a picture of his gondola on the form they use to construct them. The other day I noticed that one of the gondolas had had its bottom stripped of all paint, revealing the wood underneath. This is the first time I have seen a gondola being repaired with all the paint off the bottom. So I took a picture.


Roberto's gondola under construction

So, friends, as you ride around Venice in a gondola, you can be sure that the boat you are in is made of wood. All of it. Seven different types of wood, and over two-hundred pieces. And they are still made here by hand.