Learn How to Row a Rare Boat in Venice’s Canals Next Year
Want to row one of only seven remaining batela boats in the world?
The next time you’re in Venice, set aside time to learn how to row a boat from serious professionals. Row Venice is a nonprofit organization created by a group of Venetian women focused on preserving the traditional art of rowing.
They offer three different lessons: A classic Venetian Rowing Lesson, the Cichetto Row and an Evening Row in the Grand Canal. The most basic lesson will teach you how to navigate a wooden batela boat (also known as a shrimp-tailed batela) with 90 minutes of guidance for up to four people.
The Cichetto Row is great for foodies, because each ride ends at a local wine bar after a round of snacks onboard the boat. (You’ll also be joined on your tour by a bàcaro who will make sure you’re noshing on the best crostini Venice has to offer.) The last of the tour options will bring you along the Grand Canal — Venice’s largest canal — at sunset, after the traffic has thinned for the day. Aside from learning how to row the boat, you’ll also get to explore the smaller side canals of Venice.
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A quick note about the boat you’ll be rowing: these are not the gondolas you see on Instagram. Instead, Row Venice will teach you how to control a batela coda di gambero: a handmade vessel pictured in many classic Italian paintings. These boats began to disappear after WWII when smaller motors were introduced to tinier boats. It's said that Row Venice owns four of the seven batela boats left in the world today.
The 17-member team offers tours between April and October (so start planning your 2019 trip to Italy now), and can even arrange to drop you off at a restaurant for dinner, if it’s along the canals. Lesson prices range from $45 to $316, depending on your tour choice and the number of people joining you. According to Row Venice, a portion of every lesson fee goes to supporting local women and young athletes, as well as a number of organizations that host workshops and activities to support Venetian rowing.
For more information on how to book your own lesson, head to the Row Venice website.