Venice gets its first woman gondolier

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VENICE (Reuters) - Nine centuries of male monopoly on the canals of Venice came to an end Friday when the first woman passed the grueling test to become a trainee gondolier.

Giorgia Boscolo, the 23-year-old daughter of a gondolier, got the lowest points for one of the 22 places available, while two other women candidates failed to gain admission at all. She is now authorized to take passengers on her gondola while completing her training.

“I have always been in love with gondolas, unlike my three sisters, and I used to prefer going rowing with my father to going out with my friends,” Boscolo told Ansa news agency.

Her father, Dante, said being a gondolier was “a job that requires a lot of physical strength, but with experience you need less effort and my daughter has lots of experience.”

The flat-bottomed boats are propelled by a standing oarsman and are nowadays used for giving tourists romantic trips through the city. To gain entry to the guild of gondoliers, candidates also have to demonstrate knowledge of Venetian history.

Writing by Stephen Brown; Editing by Charles Dick