Art in Short Stories: the Gondola

I bet almost everyone dream of visiting Venice (if hadn’t visited it already). And one of the brightest symbols of this city is gondola. It occurred to be not just a mere boat, but a unique construction, full of symbolism. Every detail of the gondola has its own symbolism, especially the metal parts, whose formal elegance is combined with practicality and usefulness. The history of the gondola and the history of Venice are thus intertwined.

The iron prow-head has an “S” shape symbolic of the twists in the Canal Grande. Its top part represents the Doge’s hat, as a tribute to the most important and powerful figure of the Serenissima’s Republic. Under his control it’s displayed the Rialto Bridge and the Saint Mark’s basin, city’s heart for trades and relationships.

Under the main blade there is a kind of comb with six teeth or prongs (“rebbi”) standing for the six districts (“sestieri”) of Venice: San Marco, San Polo, Santa Croce, Castello, Dorsoduro and Cannareggio.

Sometimes three friezes can be seen in-between the six prongs, pairing the sestieri, indicating the three main islands of the city: Murano, Burano e Torcello. Whereas the tooth looking backwards symbolizes the island of Giudecca.
And here you are a wonderful gondola scene engraving by Italian Renaissance Artist Giacomo Franco.

gondola 01


gondola 02

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