The Prow and Joy of Venice

The Prow and Joy of Venice | ©2014


Il ferro (iron), the distinctive ornamentation at the prow of a Venetian gondola, the most forward part of the boat, serves as its front bumper protecting it from everyday nicks and scratches and the occasional collision with other craft occupying the cramped, shared space.

More than just a bumper, il ferro, next to the winged lion of St. Mark, is the most recognized symbol of the Most Serene Republic of Venice and describes in its design the City of Canals.

The Prow and Joy of Venice | ©2014

The Prow and Joy of Venice | ©2014 thepalladiantraveler.comThe metal band running down the face of the gondola has an “S” shape, representing the Grand Canal cutting its serpentine route through Venice.

The group of six prongs, or teeth, jutting out of the prow, represent the six sestiere (districts) of La Serenissima: Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Marco, San Polo and Santa Croce.

The lone prong, pointing in the opposite direction of the other six, represents the island of Giudecca.

The Prow and Joy of Venice | ©2014 thepalladiantraveler.comThe elegant curve at the top of the design represents the cap of the Doge, the leader of Venice and its most serene republic for almost 1,100 years.

And, the semicircle, between the curve at the top and the prongs below it, represents Ponte Rialto (Rialto Bridge), the oldest bridge across the Grand Canal.

The gondola. It’s the PROW and JOY of Venice.

©The Palladian Traveler

Borsalino w/ props | ©Tom Palladio Images


Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along the travertine and cobblestone that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches via and Anthology Magazine Ireland.


  1. Very interesting, Tom. I am guessing that there is a lot of symbolism in the world that I don’t know about – and you just informed me of some that I wasn’t even aware I was missing. 😀 My life is now a little richer!


  2. Just back from a trip to Florence and Venice.
    I knew there was meaning to the symbol but couldn’t remember what it was. Dredging Mr Google helped me to find you. Thanks for the insight, I’ll be back. 😊 😊


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