Tom gives us a couple of links about the new, first female gondolier of Venice. (I've not managed to catch a glimpse of her around town yet though...)
On that note, the latest photos I've posted on Flickr feature that incomparable Venetian trademark, the Gondola!
I'm not sure I've seen a better description of the boat than that from "101 Buildings to See in Venice":
"The gondola is an important part of the Venetian scene, more than folklore it is a typical lagoon boat; it is the product of an ancient constructional art improved on through the centuries to create an object which is perfect both from the functional and from the aesthetic point of view. It might almost be a product of industrial design or, rather, of nature, like the seashell. From the functional point of view the gondola embodies the characteristics of other typical lagoon boats, also very beautiful, such as the "caorlina" or the "sandolo": lightness, shallow draught, minimum resistence to water, great manoeverability, remarkable carrying capacity in relation to its weight and size. These characteristics are strictly bound to the topographical needs of the city. A gondola is a very tough and complex structure, the hull alone is made of 280 pieces of seven different kinds of wood. Intended normally to be rowed by a single oar, the gondola has an asymmetrical plan, being more curved to the left than to the right, to balance the side thrust of the oar; it is also asymmetrical in section, leaning to the right, to balance the weight of the gondoliere. From an aesthetical point of view the gondola has been traditionally famous for its elegant shape; it has numerous interesting details, besides the "ferro" on the prow, there is the "forcola", rowlock of walnut wood, carved like a piece of sculpture. The poop daringly high about the water level, jutting out to take the weight of the gondoliere, with its absolutely pure line, it is perhaps from an architectural point of view the most beautiful part of the gondola."
You can see what they mean in my sidebar slideshow! Enjoy!!