Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gondolas are Made of Wood

Gondola with bottom stripped
 Once I was showing some people around Venice from my home state of Michigan. Very nice people and a lot of fun. They were boaters and professed to know about boats. When I showed them the boat yard where gondolas are built and repaired, they swore that they were made of fiberglass. They were expert on the subject, and no amount of argument to the contrary would satisfy them that gondolas are in fact built entirely of wood (with the exception of a small amount of metal trim).

Over the course of last summer my friend Roberto, who is a gondolier by trade, had one built. Included here is a picture of his gondola on the form they use to construct them. The other day I noticed that one of the gondolas had had its bottom stripped of all paint, revealing the wood underneath. This is the first time I have seen a gondola being repaired with all the paint off the bottom. So I took a picture.

Roberto's gondola under construction

So, friends, as you ride around Venice in a gondola, you can be sure that the boat you are in is made of wood. All of it. Seven different types of wood, and over two-hundred pieces. And they are still made here by hand.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Coolest bar/café in Venice

 When one travels to Italy from the US, it becomes clear very quickly that Italians do not care about air conditioning or ice, although their country is hot as hell. Mood Café in Venice at Campo Santa Margherita has both.

Most bars and restaurants in Venice have signs touting them as being “air conditioned.” Don’t believe it. How can the place be cool if the outside temperature is 90, with 90% humidity, and the door is open? Mood Café, however, is indeed air conditioned and cool inside, even with the door open.

In addition to being cool inside, Mood has one of the best, if not the best, selections of beer in Venice. Not Italian beers, mind you, but a huge selection of Belgians on tap and in the bottle, as well as American, German and English. For example, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Brooklyn Beer. Oh, you want Italian beer? Fine, go somewhere and have an Italian beer. Then, after you realize that they generally suck, come to mood, be cool and comfortable, and drink some decent beer.

 Mood also has a great selection of sandwiches, and during lunch, Max will make you a wonderful salad, and he has a great hamburger.

To top it all off, there is always an English language newspaper available.

So, if you want to cool off after walking around Venice on a hot day, go to Mood Café on Campo Santa Margherita. Look for the black table cloths. Tell them Mike sent you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Photographs of Venice

To look at my best and most recent photos of Venice go here. To see some other photos, click one of the links below

venice photos

italy photos

gondola photos