Monday, April 6, 2009

It's All About... Gondolas???

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy


Truth is stranger than fiction.


As a writer, I receive constant reminders of this phenomenon. No matter how creative my busy little brain gets, it still can’t compare with the crazy twists and turns that are reality.


A perfect example is my September release, The Treasures of Venice. A city built entirely on water sounds more like the setting of a science fiction or fantasy story. But in spite of the improbability, Venice is a very real place, chock full of crazy and wonderful things that not even the most creative writers could come up with.


For example, take gondolas...

These skinny, pointy black boats symbolize Venice like nothing else. But honestly, as a writer, do you think you could have come up with an imaginary creation quite so... convoluted and unusual?


Here's what I mean: Gondolas have been around for several hundred years and the design continued to evolve until the mid-20th century. Then the Venetian city government passed a law to forbid any further design changes. It is also against the law to paint a gondola any color except black!


The gondolier (who is always dressed in a striped shirt and black pants) stands on a platform on the back of the boat, facing the bow, and he propels the gondola with a single oar. The Venetian lagoon is too deep to pole a vessel. But why one oar? And why have the gondolier stand?


Oh, and according to Wikipedia, the proper term to use for moving a gondola is "prod" as in "I prodded my gondola across the Grand Canal." WHO KNEW?!?!


The shiny metal ornament on the front of the gondola is not just for decoration. It's called a ferro, because it used to be made of iron (but can now also be brass or stainless steel), and it serves as a counter weight for the front of the boat to compensate for the gondolier standing in the back. And yes, gondolas are all handmade, as are the oars, and are very expensive.


Not all gondoliers sing. Matter of fact, nowadays not all gondoliers are men. But they are subject to strict licensing by the city of Venice, and those licenses tend to stay in the same family for generations.


Gondolas are now used almost exclusively for tourists, and they are not a cheap means of transport. When I was there (close to ten years ago) the cost of a one hour gondola ride was more than a night in our hotel! But hey, it was Venice, and sometimes you just gotta play tourist. Especially when it is sooo romantic....


Is it any wonder I had to work a gondola into a couple of scenes in my September release, The Treasures of Venice?


And speaking of my next book... I'm absolutely THRILLED with my cover, even if it doesn't include a gondola!

What do you think?



27 comments:

  1. I love the cover, Cindy. As for Venice, I adored my time there and can't wait to go back. I'm looking forward to reading your book, it'll be like a mini-vacation.

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  2. What do I think?

    I think I must get to Venice.
    And find that church.
    And the guy.

    And a gondola WITH the guy. :)

    Love the cover, Cindy!

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  3. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!! Interesting details about gondolas... who knew? So... why do they call those cable car things at ski resorts gondolas?

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  4. Interesting stuff, AC! Love the cover, too; Makes me want to sing something Italian.

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  5. Would love to get to Venice one of these days, Cindy. I was all over Europe when we lived in Spain but never made it that far south into Italy. Love the cover!!

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  6. I think I can't wait to read it!!

    Historical stuff always amazes me. You are so right that some of it seems sci-fi in how bizarre it can be. I had no knowledge of gondola factoids! Thanks for sharing that.

    The cover is indeed amazing.

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  7. I love Gondolas! When I was in Venice, we didn't have time to ride one, but we saw them and they were so great :) Excited to read your book!

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  8. Thanx Robin!
    Boy are you the EARLY BIRD! I'm still bleary eyed at 10 am on the West Coast. :-(

    Some of the details in TToV are from personal experience... Unfortunately NOT the parts with the Irish Hunk... Hope you enjoy reading them.

    AC

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  9. LOL Judi!

    You'll find plenty of churches, but I'm not so sure you'll find a shirtless guy in one. Esp. in Feb. when this story is set... BRRRR!

    AC

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  10. Hey Donna,
    I have no idea why they call those enclosed ski lifts gondolas. The baskets under hot air balloons are gondolas too.

    Maybe to make them seem more romantic???

    AC

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  11. Okay Cherly, sing along with me:

    Sa-an-ta-a Luuu-chee-uh! Santa Lucia!

    That's what my gondolier sings in TToV. ;-)

    AC

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  12. Oh Marie,
    You MUST go to Italy! Every time I've been there has been truly wonderful and memorable (though I heard they just had a bad earthquake)! I love that country even if I don't have a drop of Italian blood in me... at least not in THIS lifetime. ;-) TToV has some reincarnation stuff in it too.

    AC

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  13. Hey Cindy,

    I loved the waterways in Amsterdam butI've never been to Venice. It sounds so romantic and I'm looking forward to your book.

    But I do have a question. I read somewhere that the canals are stinky. Since you've been there, you can tell me. Is it true?

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  14. Thanx Sharon!

    I do LURVE that cover! And all those weird things (like one side of the gondola is longer than the other to keep it from going in circles with the one oar)... HOW did anyone come up with it?!?! I often find myself in awe.

    AC

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  15. Danielle,
    At least tell me you rode the vaporetti!

    Isn't it great how they don't allow ANY wheeled vehicles (except baby strollers) in Venice? No cars, no mopeds, not even a bicycle!

    Can't wait to see the ARCs! Soon?!?!

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  16. Thank you Renee,

    Always nice to see you here on the blog!

    AC

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  17. LOL, Cheryl!

    I remember singing Santa Lucia in grammar school. Of course, it was probably newly written then! HA!

    AC

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  18. MM,
    I loved the canals in Amsterdam too! We took a tour on them and it gave you such a different perspective of the city.

    Yes, the Venetian canals do smell bad. NOT the Grand Canal which is too large and fast moving, but some of the smaller canals are probably quite fragrant in the summer. (People DO throw trash in them.) I can't say for sure, since we were there in Feb. and it was too freakin cold for anything to rot! LOL!

    However, we did go to Burano (Isle of the Lacemakers) and the main canal on that little island smelled BAD. The tourist board will tell you the canals smell bad because Venice is built on a swamp. True, but in the case of Burano, I KNOW sewage when I smell it! :-(

    AC

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  19. Cindy,
    Thank you for the trip down memory lane and the history of the gondola.
    Amelia

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  20. One day I am going to get to have a ride in a gondola but in the mean time I can't wait to read the book and have a great ride that way. I just love that cover Cindy

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  21. Oh honey, with the guy on the cover, who cares about a gondola!

    Linda

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  22. You're very welcome, Amelia!

    I'm assuming you are our CasaBabe Amelia Grey. I just picked up your "A Duke to Die For" and can't wait to start reading.

    AC

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  23. Thanx for popping by Helen!

    And remember, if you can't make it to Venice, the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas has a gondola ride (pretty much like Disneyland but WHAT THE HECK!). ;-)

    AC

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  24. LOL Linda!
    I'm with you. Forget the gondola, just give me the hunk!

    AC

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  25. Awsome to meet you Cindy! And wow, I so am going to look forward to this one! Yep a great cover! They do great with them here!

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