The Venetian boat par excellence, whose origin remains a mystery in spite of extensive research into the subject. Once, gondolas were extravagantly decorated by their wealthy and titled owners, whose fondness for ostentation was curbed by a sumptuary edict dictating that henceforth they should all be painted black. The rules for construction are extremely strict: the right side must be 24 millimetres narrower than the left (this assymetry is know as lai); the boat must measure 10.75 metres in length and have an internal breadth of 1.38 metres. The gondola is used exclusively for ferrying persons and for boat races. Eight different types of wood are used in its construction and it is made up of over 280 different parts. The only parts in metal are the characteristic "ferro" of the prow and the "risso" of the stern. The "ferro" characterises the gondola's prow and guarantees the boat's longitudinal stability, acting as a counterbalance to the gondolier's weight. Popular tradition has it that the anterior "pettini" represent the six neighbourhoods of the city and the posterior one represents the island of Giudecca; the double "S" curve is the Grand Canal and the lunette, positioned under a stylised doge's cap, is Rialto Bridge.
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