A Photo-Essay
Brian Sibley & David Weeks

"I never take pictures of gondolas," the Photographer told me as I eyed-up a shot of one, "they are such a cliché!"

Click on any image to enlarge

Well, I thought, as I pressed the shutter, to be absolutely honest, there's not much that you'll ever see through your view-finder in Venice that can't be dismissed as a cliché!


The way we see it is if you're in Venice then there will come a point - sooner or later (and probably sooner) - when you just have to take a photograph of a gondola...

Or two...

Or three...

Or, possibly, more...

Of course, what was once the chief means of transportation in a city built upon water -- in the 18th century, gondola traffic on the canals of Venice ran to several thousand -- is now an overpriced tourist attraction much loved by the Japanese.

Nevertheless, there is something inherently beautiful and photogenic about the gondola: it's poise and weightlessness, its grace and elegance: a black and silver swan gliding effortlessly and silently across the mirror-waters of Venice's canals.

Every aspect of the gondola is appealing to the eye...

Perhaps, the most famous aspect of the gondola is the ferro - the iron ornamentation on the prow which serves as a protection for the craft, a decoration and a counterweight for the gondolier standing on the back of the boat.

It's distinctive shape
symbolizes the six sestieri (areas) of Venice and the Doge's hat...

...occasionally embellished with the Lion of St Mark.

Then, of course, there are also the gondoliers!

Sorry for the digression!

Anyway, back to the gondolas... So ubiquitous is the Venetian gondola that it's distinctive shape can be found even where you'd least expect to find it - for example, in an optician's window...

OK, so that is a cliché!

But gondolas? We can't snap enough of them!

Images: © Brian Sibley & David Weeks, 2008

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Venice Observed

Venice: The Bizarre Bazaar

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