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