Row, row, row your gondola, gently down the canal . . .


Yup, that’s me doing most of the rowing while “Captain” Steve steers but what a blast we had! This photo is from a recent trip we took to Italy and in lieu of taking the touristy gondola ride, we decided to learn the techniques of rowing a gondola on our own.

Thanks to a Google search titled “How not to get ripped off on a gondola ride,” we came across a company called Row Venice (  Trip Advisor reviews were exemplary so we decided to go ahead and book a 90 minute lesson.  Row Venice is a non-profit, largely female led organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the art of voga alla veneta, the style of rowing made famous by gondoliers.

Believe me, it was big fun but also a nice workout and we were able to paddle through narrow canals as well as in the Venice lagoon.  Our instructor Lisa, was fabulous, patient, and even sang opera.  She is a Texan transplant and offered many other tips on how best to enjoy Venice.  After our lesson, we really appreciated the skills required by gondoliers and spent about the same amount of money as we would have spent on a 20 minute ride.

So if you find yourself in Venice and are feeling the effects of too much pasta, bread, and vino, I highly recommend experiencing Row Venice as a way to burn off some calories.  And while neither of us fell overboard, it was a nice lesson on teamwork and agility.  It was fun switching positions between steering and rowing and somehow we made it through the entire lesson without a spill.  Plus, the lunch afterwards on a quiet canal was well-earned as we recapped our adventure over the obligatory bread, pasta, and vino.