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! 🙂