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The gondolier: the warrior of the lagoon

Mysteries & Legends

The gondolier: the warrior of the lagoon

Everybody knows who a gondolier is and what he does: he is the person who, with dedication and ability, propels the gondola, the traditional boat of Venice, thanks to the rowing technique which uses a single oar. However, the gondolier is more than this: under the white and blue striped uniform hides a warrior spirit that is celebrated by the name of this ancient profession. It seems, in fact, that the term "gondolier" derives from ‘gundu’ which resembles ‘guntu’, the German dialect word for ‘warrior’.

But what or who is the brave gondolier fighting against?

According to legend, in the depths of the Venetian lagoon lives a terrible sea monster that only fears the gondoliers: like St. George killing the dragon with his spear, the gondolier with his long oar symbolically represents a threat to the horrible creature. Therefore, the perpetual presence of gondoliers navigating the lagoon stops the dragon from coming to the surface. Sometimes, however, the dragon manifests all its frustration and anger by emitting powerful breaths that create a thick blanket of fog that envelops Venice.

But it is not only the gondoliers who fight the great dragon of the lagoon! The presence of an island called San Giorgio Maggiore and its Benedictine convent is not accidental: the prayers and canticles of the monks are aimed at subduing the fury of the monster that threatens the city.

Even the red color of the city of Venice is meant to remember the victory of Venice over the dragon of heresy and apostasy: red remembers the blood of the dragon killed by Saint George which stained not only the cloak of the Saint but also the whole island.

Now all you have to do is trust your brave gondolier ... who knows, maybe during one of our gondola rides you will get a glimpse of the glittering scales of the dragon just below the surface of the water!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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