Breaking with Tradition

Gondolas at rest ~ Image by LN Photography

Every artist needs a little adventure away from the daily round every now and then, even if that adventure takes place in the comfort of an armchair with a glass of wine in hand (from Veneto, of course) and a little time carved out of a busy day to wallow in happy memories or hopeful dreams.  This is something that inspirational writer Julia Cameron refers to as “filling the well” or “stocking the pond”  ~ really just time out to unwind, reflect and be inspired, to give the child within some new toys to play with so that there are new creative energies available to be harnessed when you next sit down to work.  I guess you might just think of yourself as “Gone Fishing”, and I’ve created a new category called just that for when I get the urge to share my fishing expeditions with you here.

So how did I find myself in Venice today?  I’m in the middle of reading ‘The Glassblower of Murano‘ by Marina Fiorato and the detailed description of the glass blower’s techniques and the stunning miracles in art they wrought with molten glass just inspired me to type ‘Venice’ into a search box and follow where the browser led me.  I have, in fact, visited Venice at least three times, but the last time I set foot in La Serenissima was sadly far too long ago.  I must make plans to return – soon.

On letting my fingers do the walking, I came across the story of Giorgia Boscolo, the first female gondolier in Venice.  Now that IS inspirational when you consider her achievement breaks the 900 year tradition of an all-male Guild!  This is the first time in Venice’s long history that the profession has been handed from father to daughter, with Giorgia demonstrating not only her aptitude with the single oar and flat bottomed boat, but also her thorough knowledge of Venice and its canals, the English language and sailing law, by passing the City’s rigorous official examination.   She is now entitled to wear the traditional blue and white striped shirt which is the hallmark of her profession.

Gondoliering has a history so esteemed that Venetian mythology tells us the boaters are born with webbed feet, as a symbol of their affinity for water.  There are, of course, those who believe it is still a man’s job and that a woman is not strong enough to control the heavy boats.  Apparently Giorgia’s wonderful response to their concerns was “childbirth is much more difficult” – with two of her own, she knows what she’s talking about.

So now, when I finally get to return to this most beautiful of Italian cities, I shall be casting my eye over every blue and white striped shirted gondolier to see if I can spot the pretty one with long blond hair – I shall be sure to give her my business.

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