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The gondola is propelled by an oarsman (the gondolier) who stands facing the bow and rows with a forward stroke, followed by a compensating backward stroke. Contrary to popular belief the gondola is never poled like a punt as the waters of Venice are too deep. Until about two hundred years ago, gondolas often were fitted with a "felze," a small open cabin, to protect the passengers from sun or rain. A sumptuary law of Venice required that gondolas should be painted black, and they are customarily so painted now.

It is estimated that there were several thousand gondolas during the 18th century. There are a several hundred today, most of which are for hire by tourists, while a few are in private ownership and use.

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Additional Photos by Francis Xavier Camilleri (Fransx) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 204 W: 0 N: 108] (1457)
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