The most famous vehicle on Venice’s water is the gondola. Today, there are only a few hundred of these unique keelless boats left, and they have long been outnumbered by others. But their elegant sleek shape and shiny black paint make them a symbol of Venice.
Many writers have described the romance of gondolas, and many tourists are still willing to pay top dollar to take a gondola ride across the canal at dusk with the sound of a gondola man’s song. Boatmen have been able to recite lines from The Italian poets Ariosto or Tasso for years as they steer their amazingly flexible craft around the sharp bends of the little canal.
Many gondolas still serve as ferries on the Grand Canal, but they are so expensive to maintain that they will probably disappear eventually.There are all kinds of motorboats in the canal. They include Vaporetti, a public waterbus operated by the municipal transport system, and private boat taxis. Other specialist boats such as barges carrying fruit and vegetables, garbage barges, ambulance and police patrol boats, as well as boats filled with tourists’ luggage, make up a waterscape of endless color and variety.
Venice is a pedestrian city. Cars are banned in the city, except for the Roman Forum and the large car parks on the Lido. At the risk of encountering frequent detours and dead ends, you can walk anywhere in Venice — along the banks of canals, paved streets, nearby squares, and some 400 canal Bridges.
Although many traditional marble arch Bridges still exist, a large number of older Bridges were replaced by wrought iron structures in the 19th century.