You can view all posts from my trip to Italy here.
I am back from Italy! I had some pretty amazing adventures and went to Venice, Murano, Burano, Bassano del Grappa, Verona, Florence and Tuscany, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast with three friends from college, Morgan, Mariah, and Stephanie (Morgan and Mariah have been featured on my Flannel Diaries post and Stephanie was featured on my Four Days in Philadelphia post). I took literally thousands of photos during our trip (no surprise there!), so they will be split up into several posts.
After long flights with little sleep, we lugged our suitcases through Venice and checked into our Airbnb before our first adventure with Row Venice. I love doing boat tours and I have always heard that the best way to see Venice is on the water, and it’s true. But you don’t have to empty your wallets for super expensive gondola rides. Gondola rides can be as expensive as 80 euros for half an hour, and prices can go up to 100 euros after 7 p.m.! So if you want an alternative to gondola rides, check out Row Venice. We chose to go with Row Venice because it was less expensive for a longer ride, and they actually teach you how to row- it’s a lot harder than you would think!
Row Venice is a non-profit organization, the team is actually almost entirely female since it’s very complicated for women to be gondoliers in Venice (there is only one licensed female gondolier and it caused a lot of controversy). Row Venice is the only alternative for professional rowers, and while the women could jump through hoops to be gondoliers because they’re incredible rowers, we were told that they prefer to work with Row Venice instead!
Row Venice uses historic batellina boats instead of gondolas. Batellinas died out when gondolas started to become popular, and Row Venice is bringing them back. There are only seven batellinas in existence, and Row Venice owns four of them.
Row Venice has a few different rowing options, and we chose the one that included dinner and drinks at sunset, which did not disappoint! We were with another group and our group was paired with Elena, and she demonstrated how to row before we left. You actually pull the oar towards you, which sounds counter intuitive, but it works. It’s harder than it looks though, and I don’t think I was very good at it but it was fun! While my friends were rowing, I was taking tons of photos of all of the beautiful sights.
When we got out of the canal, Elena let us take turns in her spot. I did not try it because the wake was very strong, and it was harder to keep your balance at the top of the boat. Thankfully, no one fell in! This gave me a new appreciation for how in shape all the rowers are.
Near the end of the tour, we stopped for food and drinks from some local restaurants. Everything was delicious, and it was nice getting to try such a variety! We scarfed down our first plate of food, so it didn’t survive long enough to take photos. We also got to try a few different types of local wines, which were all delicious. It was also really nice getting to talk to the rowers and learn about local life in Venice, and they had some good restaurant recommendations!
The boat ride was very relaxing, especially after a long day of traveling. I probably could have drifted off to sleep in the boat if they let me. If you’re visiting Venice, I highly suggest taking a rowing lesson with Row Venice! You’ll get more bang for your buck than a gondola ride, and you’ll also be supporting a great non-profit. Plus, it’s a lot of fun and you’ll get to see some beautiful places! 🙂
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Blog, Europe, Italy, Photography, Travel
How awesome! I want to go back to Venice just to do this!
It was a really awesome experience!
Great tip! ? Right now I’m on Erasmus in Forlí, Italy ( also the reason I’m into creative writing again, got a lot more on my mind) and I’m going to try to travel a bit every two weeks. Venice is also on my list and I’ll definitely do this instead of the typical Gondola rides ?
I hope you have a great time! 🙂
What an amazing experience, not to mention gorgeous pictures! It brought back wonderful memories of my trip to Venice years ago. Sadly, we didn’t take a gondola ride, due to the ridiculous price tag that went with it. But, Row Venice sounds like the perfect alternative ~ time to head back to Venice!
Thank you! Yes I definitely recommend Row Venice instead of a gondola ride for the next time you go!
Amazing photos, and a great tip to avoid the tourist trap of the expensive gondolas! Venice is a part of the world I frequently visit 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
This sounds so awesome, and right up my street! It’s a shame they charge so much for gondola rides, but I love doing unique things like this instead! Thanks for the great tip. 🙂
It was definitely a unique experience, and I highly recommend it!
When I was in Venice last summer, I saw people doing this while I was taking tour of the canals and the lagoon. It looked like fun, and now it’s great to know more about the organization doing it. I had never hear of battelinas, so now I know something new :-). I’ll definitely check out Row Venice when I’m back in the city. Great post!
Yes it was a lot of fun! I highly recommend them!
Such a fabulous experience dear! Your pictures are so beautiful ! I cannot wait to go !
Thank you! 🙂
This is such an awesome alternative! I’ve been wanting to visit Venice for some time now and not gonna lie, despite the crazy high prices, riding the gondola is defs on my bucket list. Saving this to my bookmark for when I do visit. Thanks for sharing!
I definitely recommend Row Venice, I hope you get to do it when you go!
This is so cool! I love Venice & obviously you do to- from all of the fantastic photos! How’s the balance on the boat? I’d been afraid of falling into a canal lol!
I don’t have very good balance so I was a little shaky, but no one fell in!
That is so nice that there is a non-profit that does this! I am definitely doing this next time I am in Venice, so pinned for later.
It’s an awesome experience! I hope you enjoy it!
What a cool experience! I would totally do this! Gorgeous photos of Venice, by the way. 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
Great photos! So much nicer than when I was there…it was pouring and dreary the entire time. Row Venice is something I’ll have to try the next time I visit.
Thanks! It did rain the following day, unfortunately! But it is beautiful in the sunlight
That’s a great initiative. I totally loved the concept and it is definitely much better than regular Gondola rides. Thanks for sharing.
Yes I love what the organization is doing!
Thanks for the tip! I had never heard of Row Venice nor the batallina boats. It seems to be a great option to explore Venice, not only cheaper than the gondolas but you also get to row yourself! And Venice looks so beautiful!
Yes I highly recommend doing that tour!
How did I not know that women couldn’t be gondoliers?!? Now I wish I was heading to Venice soon because Row Venice sounds right up my alley! I’ll be sure to mention it to anyone traveling there. How cool!
I didn’t know either until I went, it’s crazy!
Venice is definitely in my top 5 dream travel destinations. Your photos are beautiful, and these gondola rides look like a lot of fun! I can’t believe how expensive they are though! That would make it difficult for so many people to be able to experience it. So I’m glad you suggested an alternative! 😀
Thanks! I would definitely recommend Row Venice over a gondola ride!
I’m shocked that women can’t become gondolieri in Venice! But when I think about my trip, I realize that all of them were men… This is a great initiative, sad that I didn’t know about this before my trip but I will definitely do it next time!
Yes I would definitely recommend doing Row Venice next time!
This is so cool! I was in Venice last summer (I wrote a full blog post on it HERE if you’re interested in checking it out!) and skipped the gondola rides without a second thought because of the expense, but didn’t seek out an alternative. Although Row Venice is more bang for your buck compared to expensive gondola rides, do you think it’s worth it in general? Dinner and drinks at sunset sounds like the perfect package! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s
I definitely think it’s worth it! We got to see a side of Venice that only locals usually see, and we got to talk with the rowers about growing up in Venice and learning how to row. It was an awesome experience and you should definitely do it if you go back!
Looks like an amazing trip and what a way to create some awesome memories! Photos are beautiful.
Thank you! 🙂
This is so handy! I am going to Venice in the middle of June and I am definitely looking at booking a rowing lesson as an alternative!
You definitely should! It was an awesome experience! 🙂
This looks like so much fun! Thanks for the information you shared in your blog. If I make it to Italy, this is definitely a must do excursion!!! And the images are so lovely.
Thank you! 🙂 Yes I highly recommend it!!
This sounds really fun and I love that it’s women running it as well., it seems obvious to me now but I didn’t really realise that women aren’t ever steering the gondolas in Venice. So glad no one fell in as well, I would be so nervous about that while trying to balance on the top part!
Julia // The Sunday Mode
Yes it’s a really great organization! 🙂
The photos look amazing! What is the black stuff on the bread? It doesn’t look like caviar or pate. It actually looks unappetizing, lol.
Thanks! I think it was something with squid ink, it was better than it looks! 🙂
OMG! Row Venice looks like it was so much fun. I hope that I can get there one day to experience the beauty.
You should definitely go if you get the chance! 🙂
This is a great tip! I can’t believe the prices for gondolas are so high, this is purely ripping people off! The Row Venice experience sounds much better and learning to row (or trying to haha) is such a fun, unique experience to have in this beautiful city!
Your photos are super pretty, the buildings around the canals are beautiful!
Thank you! 🙂 Yes Row Venice was an awesome experience!!