Gondolaby Donna Leon
From the bestselling novelist, a beautifully illustrated collection of original pieces on Venice’s famed gondolas, with an accompanying CD of barcarole songs.
Of all the trademarks of Venice—and there are many, from the gilded Basilica of San Marco to the melancholy Bridge of Sighs—none is more ubiquitous than the gondola. In Gondola, the internationally acclaimed “American with the Venetian heart” (The Washington Post), Donna Leon, tells the fascinating story of the famous boat.
First used in medieval Venice as a deftly maneuverable getaway boat, the gondola evolved over the centuries into a floating pleasure palace, bedecked in silk, that facilitated the romantic escapades of the Venetian elite. Sumptuary laws turned it black—a gleaming, elegant hue for a boat manned by robust gondolieri in black-and-white-striped shirts and straw hats.
A tourist favorite, the gondola has never ceased to be a part of authentic Venice. Each boat’s 280 pieces are carefully fashioned in a maestro’s workshop—though Leon also recounts a tale of an American friend who attempted to make a gondola all on his own. The feat took five years and countless do-overs. But the gondola is a work of art well worth the labor. And once its arched prow pushes off from the dock, the single Venetian at its oar just might break out in a barcarole, the popular songs sung by gondolieri. The best of these songs are included on an accompanying CD specifically recorded for Gondola, including an exclusive track by Cecilia Bartoli, the world’s bestselling classical singer.
“A delightful look at the gondola as cultural icon, marvel of construction and object of romance and mystery.” —Judith Malafronte, Opera News