A certain signor Giuseppe Gioia, who owns the Cantieri Navali Brindisi shipyard, spent Wednesday evening defending his much-derided idea of building fibreglass gondolas for Venice, pointing out that he is only trying to use modern techniques to build a cheaper, low maintenance and more weather-resistant gondola. He claims that his company has already built a fibreglass replica of a Venetian gondola.
Traditional wooden gondolas cost 25,000 – 35,000 euros each to produce and are made from eight different types of wood. Strict city laws prohibit the use of other materials in their making and also lay down rules about colours: the interior of a gondola can be black, dark blue or purple but every other part must be black.
Costs for tourists wishing to take a gondola ride are high, typically starting at 80 euros for 40 minutes during the daytime. Mr Gioia says that these costs could be greatly reduced if fibreglass gondolas were introduced.
Aldo Rosso, head of Ente Gondola, the Venice Gondoliers’ Association, told the newspaper La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre that Mr Gioia’s idea is “outrageous and unthinkable” and says he is sure that lovers of Venice all over the world will agree with him. He has also accused Mr Gioia of coming up with the idea as a publicity stunt for his company.
“This is Venice, not some amusement park!” cries Mr Rosso.
Would a fibreglass gondola be less attractive for you?
Have you ever ridden in a gondola?