Gondolas don’t last long, which is why vintage ones are scarce. Travelers can see one of the world’s oldest and intact Venetian gondolas in Las Vegas, not Italy.
The vessel, which still has its original furniture, features elaborate wood carvings, indicating that it may have been used for special occasions such as weddings.
To protect its passengers from inclement weather, the boat is equipped with a cabin, which in Italian is called a felze. The windows may be closed with louvered shutters that we now know as Venetian blinds.
It measures 36 feet long and 5 feet wide. Just like modern gondolas on the canals of Venice, the vessel is painted black, something mandated by law since 1562.
The boat was purchased by the Las Vegas Sands Corp, the parent company of the resorts. The Venetian Las Vegas offers gondola rides indoors in the Grand Canal Shoppes and outdoors near Las Vegas Boulevard.
Rides are available daily beginning at 10 a.m. A seat in a four-person gondola costs $29.
The Vegas price is considerably less than the real deal in Venice where you can expect to pay about $99 for a 30-minute ride. But, then, the Italian city’s canals aren’t man-made and steps from clanging slot machines.
A similar antique gondola is part of the boat collection at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va.