Venice and gondolas go together like New York and the Statue of Liberty. Like Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Like…oh, alright, you get the idea.
So I was intrigued when I caught up with true Venetian, Monica Cesarato, who took to the waters for the very first time aged 40, not on a gondola but in a sandolo, part of the Venetian tradition voga.
Explore Venice By Voga
“Yes, I admit it: I am Venetian and I’d never been on a boat,” she says. “But the term Venetian does not apply only to people who are born and live in Venice itself, but also to people who live in the province of Venice, an extensive area on dry land.”
I am Venetian and I’d never been on a boat.
Coming from Oriago di Mira, a countryside village on the River Brenta, Monica had never braved the waters of the Queen of the Adriatic.
Her maiden voyage took place on a sandolo, a cross between a rowing boat and a kayak. Although it looks more stable than a traditional gondola, Monica disagrees. ”At first, I was afraid: the boarding wasn’t exactly promising. It kept rolling left to right and I suddenly remembered I wasn’t a good swimmer (Hey, I am a countryside girl!).”
“Thankfully my friends told me to sit on the floor and that helped a lot. The rolling isn’t so bad when you are sitting and once I got into the rhythm I actually started to enjoy the view.”
Did it give you a different perspective on Venice?
“It was like seeing the city for the first time. It’s amazing what you miss when you dash through the crowds, trying to avoid tourists or when you travel on the vaporetto all squashed by people.”
How was the Grand Canal?
“Between the excessive waves caused by the motor boats and the dangereous ones caused by the vaporetto, we passed from a very pleasant ride to a very scary one.
“The girls were amazing, they kept control of the boat in such a way that made us scream: Girl Power! There is no view in the world like this!
“The sun was just about to go down, the light was reflecting on the water, the waves kept breaking against our boat. I might be a local, but I never get tired of Venice.”
What happened next?
Monica’s friend Rene guided them away from the Canal Grande into some small side canals, Rii in Venetian.
“I have to say this was the most enjoyable part. We slowly glided through the water into this amazing scenario. The tall walls of the palaces and house surrounded us.
“After cicchetto – Venetian tapas – and a nice drink, all taken whilst in the boat, we decided it was time to go back to dry land.”
“Well, I waited 40 years, but believe me it was well worth it!”
So there you have it. Next time I’m in Venice perhaps I’ll skip the gondolas and seek out my very own voga experience instead.
Learn Italian In a Weekend with Monica Cesarato
Monica Cesarato is a native Italian who teaches both English and Italian in Venice. She also operates a B&B 15 minutes away from the city centre and runs weekend courses in Italian. For more details see her site or contact her at email@example.com