Venice gondola poles historically painted in the colors of the wealthy family that owned the docking place, with the corresponding gondoliers dressed in similar colors.
As a mode of transportation in Venice, the Venetian gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed rowing boat, custom-made for the specific conditions of the lagoon.
PHOTO: Gondola in Venice, with gondola mooring poles in blue and white in the background.
For several centuries during the city’s history, these gondolas were the primary type of transportation and the most common types of boats used within Venice.
Today, the iconic gondolas are still partially used for public transportion in Venice, serving as two gondolier “traghetti” (ferries) over selected sections of the Grand Canal. Most of the 350+ gondolas still in use today, however, are reserved for tourist tours.
Gondolas are also used for special rowing races, such as the Regatta Storico.
As for the poles that the gondolas are parked unto, they historically represented the wealthy families that owned the gondolas and the poles (which served as reserved parking places of a kind).
Correspondingly, to notice these gondolas and the gondoliers even from farther away, the gondoliers also wore corresponding colors in their clothing.
As was the case with gondola colors (they are all black), standardization and decrees of law have made most (but not all) of the gondola mooring poles painted similarly, with white and red spiral stripes (with no connection to barbershop symbols of the same colors).