Until a few centuries ago, Venice had only a few bridges, and its people moved around in rowing boats, as many of them still do today. Manoeuvering a boat in the narrow canals of the city or on the shallow waters of the surrounding Venetian lagoon is definitely not easy, and you really have to look at where the boat is going if you don’t want to bump into a wall or god forbid, into an expensive gondola.
In the only city in the world without cars, boats are the main mean of transportation. Since the early hours of the morning, the waters of Venice’s lagoon are crisscrossed by thousands of boats of all kinds: there are the famous gondole, the noisy tope used for transport, the elegant vaporetti, the oar-powered sandoli, and the sailing boats known as vela al terzo, a navigation system that is typical of the northern Adriatic sea.
Gondolas race in Venezia’s Canale della Giudecca during the yearly regata held for the Festa del Redentore, which commemorates the end of the plague epidemic of 1575-1577 that killed more than a third of the city’s population.
One of hundreds of boats used by migrants to cross the Mediterranean sea lies abandoned in the harbour of Portopalo di Capo Passero, Sicily’s southernmost community. The stretch of sea between the island and north-Africa, known in Arabic as Madiq Qilibiyah (strait of Kelibia), is crossed every year by thousands of migrants on their way to Europe.