Mike O'Toole and David Black had already started their own Gondola cruise business together before Mike's first visit to Venice brought him into contact with the real thing. Fascinated by the sleek lines and ability to move under the power of a single oar, he stayed to investigate, toiling in boatyards and working stints as a gondolier as he learned to design and maneuver the classic boats. When he returned to the US, he brought with him a determination to make his gondola business a truly authentic experience. Together, he and David devised a gondola that exuded the traditions of Venice but that was specifically suited to the waters of Naples Island.
At The Gondola Getaway, Mike, David, and their team of gondoliers conduct one-hour tours with the unique watercraft, which range from authentic two-seaters imported from Venezia to boats that seat up to 14, crafted with the co-owners' unique designs. These are built from oak frames and mahogany plywood with a five-ounce fiberglass overlay, painted jet-black, and constructed to be a bit shorter than their European counterparts. Once on the water, tour guides explore Naples Island's ancient canals and waterways, and even serve European snacks such as cheese, salami, and bread.