About Gondola Romantica
In 1998, John Kerschbaum – company owner and gondolier enthusiast – saw a photograph of a gondola and was intrigued. Growing up alongside the St. Croix River, John developed a passion for being on the water. Combining this passion with his wanderlust, John spent years as a guide for canoe trips in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.
But after seeing that photo of the Venetian rowboat, the seasoned canoeist thought, “This boat would be great on the river in downtown Stillwater – a quaint, historic town with beautiful bluffs and a scenic waterway. Yeah, I could offer gondola rides.”
Finding a Gondola
So John called all his boating friends, none of whom knew anything about the intriguing watercraft. After doing his own research, John thought, “I’m handy…I could build one! But do I dare try to duplicate 1,000 years of tradition?”
Instead, John tracked down a man in Venice – an eccentric American named Tom – willing to find him a used, authentic gondola and teach him to row it. John remembers these rowing lessons on the busy, windy Grand Canal as one of the highlights of all his travels.
A Gondola in Minnesota
The boat was shipped home, and in 2000, John finally got a gondola into the St. Croix River. He has enjoyed years of rowing lovers alongside the bluffs and lights of Stillwater. John’s gondolas bring his sense of wanderlust and the romance of Venice to the Twin Cities.