Venice

Traghetti

Hotels Venice
- Restaurants - Typical Products - Services -
"Traghetti - In Venice, the term "traghetto" is used to describe both a ferry service transporting passengers from one bank of the Canal Grande to the other and the points where the crossing begins and ends. Passengers are carried in a special boat known as a "gondolone da parada" or "barcheta" similar to a gondola. In the past, everything from stone and wood to build houses to food for the inhabitants had to be transported by boat. We can therefore be sure that the trade of ferryman is as old as the lagoon settlements themselves, the history of the ferries going hand in hand with that of Venice and its people. And in the case of the traghetti, the story is a complex one made up of customs, work, poverty and sacrifice but all, of cooperative endeavour ahead of its time. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the ferrymen already operated within guilds or "fraglie" with statutes approved by the magistracy of the "Giustizia Vecchia". This is the first known example of urban passenger and goods transport. The "mariegole" or statutes governing the various "traghetti" were all very similar and consisted of a complex body of internal regulations aimed at guaranteeing the quality of the service. The "mariegole" established the obligations of the "compagni di fraglia" including taxes, the operating hours of the ferry service, rates and the territorial limits of the transport. From these statutes we learn that many of the public transport problems faced by a Venetian five centuries ago were very similar if not identical to those of someone living in Venice today. Even in those days, boats were crowded, night-time services were few and far between and timetables were not respected. Neither was the professionalism of the ferryman always what it should have been. The "mariegole" established standards to improve services and it was the job of the "gastaldi" (who headed the various "fraglie" and corresponded to the "bancali" of today's "traghetti") to ensure they were respected. Not even the fall of the Republic of the Serenissima and the rule of three successive foreign powers brought substantial modifications to the ancient rules and today, although there are now new forms of association, there is still a special state institution controlling and coordinating the work of the Venetian gondoliers' cooperatives, the Istituzione per la conservazione della gondola e la protezione del gondoliere (the "Institute for the Conservation of the Gondola and Protection of the Gondolier"). After construction of the Santa Lucia and Accademia bridges in the 19th century, the number of ferry services linking the two banks of the Canal Grande dropped from twenty in 1828 to eight today. In Venice, as welt as providing a ferry service across the Canal Grande, the gondoliers are also on call at the service of both residents and tourists. While waiting for passengers, the gondolas are berthed in special ranks or "stazi" throughout the city.