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April 29, 2011

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Page 10 POST-GAZE'ITE, APRIL 29, 2011 The Gondolas and Gondoliers of Venice by James DiPrima When someone mentions Italy the first images you get in your mind are of Rome, the Coliseum, Florence, art, wine and of course food and many other places you plan to visit. Hopefully one of those places will be Venice. Venice is a fasci- nating city to visit. As of 2008 the popu- lation was about 60,000 people. The at- tractions are many including of course St. Mark's Piazza, St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace along with the bridge of Sighs, the cross over to the prison af- ter sentencing in the early 1500, and the ever popular Murano glass factory. With 450 souvenir shops you'll be able to take home a reminder of your visit. Venice is a charming, scenic walking city .with its many bridges that cross over the many canals and certainly a place devoid of automobiles. In its place to travel around is the ever present Gon- dolas and Gondolier. Gondolas have been around since 1094. During the 17  and 18 th century there were approxi- mately eight to ten thousand gondolas traveling in the canals of Venice. The Grand Canal is 2.3 miles Long, 9 feet deep and on average and its smallest about 3 feet wide. You may know Venice floods about 50 times a year, so plan your time when the tide is low. Today there are about 400 gondolas in active service, mostly all of them used for hiring by tour- ist. Those that are privately owned are rented out for weddings or racing. The gondola is a fascinating work of marine propulsion and construction. The gondola's propulsion is provided by a per- son, usually male, standing at the rear facing forward, towards the bow, and rows using a "forward stroke, which is followed by a compensating "backward stroke." Up until the 20th century the gondolas had a small cabin that would shield the passemgers from onlookers and the weather. The windows could be closed with louvered shutters, probably the first "Venetian blinds." But as the years went on and the tourist availed themselves of this mode of travel they complained that they could not see the sights of Venice. This was replaced with an awning called a "tendalin', and some don't use any covering. The Forcola num. It serves as a decoration and coun- terweight for the gondolier standing near the stern. The unusual shape of the ferro with its 6 sections facing for- ward represents the 6 neighborhoods of Venice and the one facing the stern is representative of the island of Giudecca while the top represent the plume as worn by the Doge. The double S curving of the ferro represents the Grand Canal. A perspective gondolier must apply to the gondolier guild which will then is- sue the license after a period of train- ing and apprenticeship followed by an extensive exam which tests knowledge of Venetian history, landmarks, lan- guage skills and handling the gondola especially in the tight canals. The usual dress for a gondolier is black pants with either a white shirt or red and white stripe shirt or blue and white stripe shirt with a straw hat and red band around the hat. Gondola on the Grand Canal In the mid 20 th century the city passed a law which required all gondolas to be painted black. Prior to that law gondolas were painted in many colors and people complained that the many colors were a distraction. An additional law stated that there was to be no further design modifications to the gondola. Today, as in years past, the gondolas are made by hand using 9 types of wood namely, beech, mahogany, cherry, elm, fir, larch, lime, oak and walnut incorpo- rating 280 pieces. Oars are made from beech wood. In order to resist the ten- dency of the boat to turn towards the left at the forward stroke the left side is made longer. The resulting gondola is a fiat bottom vessel 32 feet long able to carry 2-6 passengers. Its parts consist of the "oar or remo and is held in an oar- lock that is called a forcola and the ferro, the ornamental piece at the bow. The forcola is a complicated shape allowing several positions of the oar for slow forward rowing, powerful forward rowing, and turning, slowing down, row- ing backwards and stopping. The orna- ment on the front of the boat (bow) is called the ferro {iron) and can be made from brass, stainless steel, or alumi- WWW. BOSTON POSTGAZETTE.COM In a break from the 1000 year tradi- tion of having only male gondoliers, in August 2010 Giorgia Boscolo became the first woman gondolier in Venice. She works for the Locanda Art Deco Hotel and uses their private gondola to shuttle people from that hotel only. She is not recognized by the gondoliers association and by law cannot call herself a gondo- lier. But things are changing and she is now able to substitute for a male colleague if he wants a day off and row tourist around the canals. Just so you'll know if you go, official rates for gondola rides are set by the city of Venice, which started at g80 for 40 minutes, additional 20-minute incre- ments are 40. After 7 p.m., the base rate climbs to I00, with 50 for an additional 2 minutes. Up to six people can share a gondola. A little expensive but it has to be experienced once in your life. A singer and accordion player is extra. On one of our tours we were serenaded on the Grand Canal with both and Jean and I loved it. So will you. Arrivederci, Venezia. ..,  ,. , ,t .  j,   ,... , , ,.!'. , ,,', , ,.  @@@0@@@@@0@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@0@@@@@@@@@ i |/IDEO by Bob Morel,o i VlEWS...morethanmeetstheeye O@IID @@0 gtP@ @ Q@@O B@00@@ 0@0 g@ Q@ 0 @e@@@@ @@Q @@0 @@ g@e IP MAN 2: LEGEND OF THE GRANDMASTER (2-Blu-ray) Well Go USA International superstar Donnie Yen reprises his iconic role as the real-life kung fu Grandmaster Ip Man. Master Ip (Donnie Yen) a new arrival in British- occupied Hong Kong, wants to open a martial arts acad- emy to teach his unique Wing Chun style. A corrupt group of martial arts mas- ters, led by "Master H/ing (Sammo Hung) refuses to allow him to teach in peace until he proves himself as a kung fu master. Ip's trouble continues when he is forced to enter a brutal "King of the Ring" boxing match against Twister (Darren Shahlavi), a Western-style boxer who in- sults the Chinese locals, in an East versus West knock- down, drag-out fight to the finish. (1 hr. 48 mins.) RABBIT HOLE (DVD) Lionsgate This video is the extraor- dinary story of Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart). Eight months ago, they had a picture-perfect life with their young son. Now, they are posing as nor- mal in the wake of an enor- mous loss, blindly looking for footing in a sea of new emotions. A remarkably moving journey of a couple finding their way back to love. Powerful performances (1 hr. 32 rains.) FLY AWAY (DVD) Flatiron Film A powerful film that nar- rates the story of Jeanne (Beth Broderick) and her autistic teenage daughter, Mandy {Ashley Rickards). Jeanne has cared for Mandy since the day she was born, growing closer every day to a child who is charm- ingly offbeat one moment and nearly impossible to manage the next. In the dog park, Jeanne encoun- ters Tom (Greg Germann), an easy-going and accept- ing neighbor who sparks a romantic interest, but she finds juggling Mandy's care and her own career leaves little room for a new man. As the pressures of work and her child's needs increase, she must decide whether or not to enroll Mandy in a therapeutic residential fa- cility. Over the course of a few weeks, Jeanne is con- fronted with the most diffi- cult decision a parent can make, to let go, allowing her child to grow, but also grow apart, or to hold on tight and fall together. (1 hr. 20 rains.) UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS (2-DVD) BBC The new Upstairs Down- stairs, picks up in 1936, six years after Rose left 165 Eaton Place. Fate brings her back as housekeeper to its new owners, Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard), his wife Lady Agnes (Keeley Hawes), and his mother, Lady Maud Holland (Dame Eileen Atkins). Rose finds she has her work cut out for her as she recruits a new "downstairs" family to help run the elegance and finery of the "upstairs" world, and it soon becomes apparent that there is a labyrinth of secrets, lies and scandals in both worlds. Meanwhile, in the wider world, Edward VIII has ascended the throne, fascism is on the rise, and Europe is inching towards catastrophe. (3 hrs.) CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (4-DVD) Shanachie Entertainment Creator Nat Hiken's Car 54 Where Are You, stands as one of the greatest achieve- ments in television comedy. Rich with New York humor and characters in scripts that were polished jewels of lunacy. 4-disc set of 30 epi- sodes celebrates the series' 50 th anniversary. The show stars Joe E. Ross as the bumbling Gunther Toody and Fred Gwynne as the cul- tured Francis Muldoon. Along with a supporting cast that included Beatrice Pons as Toody's wife, AI Lewis as the irascible Officer Leo Schnauser, with Charlotte Rae as his wife, and Paul Reed as the perpetually exasperated Captain Block. (13 hrs.) IF GOD IS WILLING AND DA CREEK DON'T RISE (2-DVD) HBO Home Entertainment HBO Documentary Films revisits New Orleans five years after Hurricane Katrina with Spike Lee, to see how the ambitious plans to reinvent the city are play- ing out. The rebirth of Cres- cent City and the ensuing stories of hope and heart- ache are bookended by two momentous events -- the historic 2010 Super Bowl victory and the disastrous British Petroleum oil spill -- that changed the history of America's most unique city once again. The film takes an unblinking look at the resilience, dedication, and perseverance of the people of New Orleans. Amidst all the enduring uncertainties, the film also captures the community's indomitable spirit and ability to celebrate life. Bonus feature, 'Pickin' Up Da Pieces,' an hour with Lee. (4 hrs.) BLOOD OUT (DVD) Lionsgate When big-city detectives refuse to further investigate his kid brother's gang- related murder, small-town sheriff Michael Spencer (Luke Goss) drops the badge and goes undercover to find his brother's killer and avenge his death. Full- throttle action and ven- geance, with a cast that includes Val Kilmer, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Vinnie Jones. (1 hr. 32 mins.)