Decade: The 80s
Name: Marisa Crisitiano
"Marisa Cristiano" is a classic black tourist gondola from Venice which exudes elegance and style. She is one of only four working gondolas in the UK. In Venice there are 425 licensed to carry paying passengers!
Her two names are those of the wife and the son of her gondolier in Venice, Guido Bozzao. She was launched in 1986 on New Year’s Day. Guido retired in 2003, and the boat was then sold to a restaurant owner in Birmingham, who berthed the gondola in a canal beside his “Don Salvo” restaurant. Cristiano, the son, is now a gondolier who operates in front of the famous Danieli Hotel on the Venice waterfront.
The boat is flat bottomed, with no keel or rudder, and the rear oarsman needs consummate skill in acting as both cox and captain in commanding his crew, or indeed in rowing alone. With a full complement of six passengers, a gondola weighs over a ton, so the gondolier, working alone, proceeds slowly and with grace.
Marisa was built by Gioponi, an acknowledged master of Venetian boatbuilding, in 1985. Her home berth is now in the centre of the city of Oxford, where she gives rides for charitable donations. Last summer she was invited to take part in a “Fete Venitienne”; a night-time performance on the Grand Canal of the Palace of Versailles.