Gondola’s History

Though opinions vary regarding the etymology of the word, it is certain that the name appeared for the first time in some 1094 documents.

Several paintings show how the Gondola evolved from an ordinary boat to gradually become how is today. The current form was achieved in the 17th century. Initially Gondolas were steered by two men, each with an oar, successive variations attempted to make it easier to operate by a single oarsman.  Noblemen and the upper middle class made it a symbol of their wealth, embellishing it with designs and marquetry, lining it with silk and satin.  Even the tail coats of the gondoliers were refined in gold.  A wooden cabin, the FELZE, provided shelter for the passengers, protecting them from the cold and maintaining their privacy. Equipped with side Windows and drapes, mirrors and a warming pan, the band adorned with inlay booth was covered with black cloth.

The ostentatiousness reached such an extreme that the Senate called for fines to be imposed on crafts too richly outfitted, an ordinance that proved to be useless. The color black was imposed on gondolas and gondoliers by an act.


Venice Foundations

The history of Venice begins with the twilight of the Roman Empire, when barbaric invasions drove the inhabitants of the Venetian coast towards the islands of the lagoon. It wasn’t easy to establish a settlement in this region, scoured by continual tides and flooding. Even less so to erect stable, sound buildings: water, salinity, sand and mud had to be reckoned with.

Venice at its dawning was a city built mainly on wood, with walls made of planks and roofs of thin cane instead of tiles. Later did recurring, devastating fires impose a prohibition against employing this material in construction.
Slowly from the islands of Rialto, the number of buildings increased, the shoals were reclaimed as to outline the present day canals and the span of water between one island and another was diminished to allow for the widening of pedestrian walkways.

In addition to burdensome transport, houses in brick and stone also required a foundation with piling that could support the heavier structures.
Foundations began to be fortified by burying hundreds of pails of alder or larch, set close together in the muddy seabed, driven deep with a rammer that operated by letting a weight drop. On one end, the lower extremities of the logs were implanted in the more solid clay and sand layer called “caranto”, on the upper end, the tops were squared off and every fissure filled in with shards and pieces of brick mixed with lime.

A solid wooden floor was constructed on the leveled tops, and the foundations of the masonry construction were laid on this planking. It was a long, laborious process, but it held up well: many houses are still standing today on logs planted centuries ago.


The art gallery was opened in 1951 by Solomon R. Guggenheim and hosts the private collection of his wife Peggy, one of the most influent personalities in XX century art. The works of her collection are shown together with other paintings from private collections (in 2012 the musuem received more than 80 works from the Schuholf Collection) or from temporary exhibitions.


The museum is probably the most important in Italy regarding  american and european art of the first half of the XX century. It hosts works by Picasso, de Chirico, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Miró, Klee, Ernst, Magritte, Dalí e Pollock and by many others in the areas of Dadaism, Cubism, Futurism and Surrealism.

In the evocative garden is presented a rich selection of modern art sculptures.

Punta della Dogana

Punta della Dogana separates the Grand Canal from the Giudecca Canal. For its strategic location it was the house of the Custom and of the Salt Warehouses.

In 2007 the city of Venice appointed Palazzo Grassi and the François Pinault Foundation with the task of transforming the building into a contemporary art centre. The project was assigned to Japanese architect Tadao Ando that created his masterpiece. A location created with a careful combination of modern and ancient elements, to enhance art in every single way.

The museum houses the works of the Pinault Foundation.

An event and a renovation that are contributing to make Venice one of the most important centers of contemporary art. 


Palazzo Grassi, located in campo San Samuele and facing the Grand Canal, was the last palace built before the end of the Venetian Republic, in 1772.

In 2005 the Palace, that had been for years the location of important exhibitions on the great civilizations of the past, was taken over by François Pinault foundation, who begun a renovation project assigned to Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The result is a fascinating combination between Pinault collection and the historical location, that plays as a contrasting frame to the contemporary art works.   

The palace houses frequent art exhibitions with a selection of works coming from all over the world.