As the sun begins to dip below the skyline, the Providence River’s surface flares up, tinged with its flickering glow. In the hazy sunset light, a gondola emerges cutting through the still water’s surface. Led by owner Marcello, La Gondola’s group of gondoliers row with the mission to only furnish passengers with romantic sojourns and to celebrate the riverfront and the city’s Italian ties. Each of his Venice-built gondolas gleams with intricately wrought ornaments and solid brass trim, and at 36 feet, they comfortably hold a gondolier, guests, and the occasional hitchhiking tugboat captain.
Each gondola trip his company takes gets Marcello’s custom touch, as he tailors every trip to passengers’ desires. “No matter who you are,” he says, “we strive to make you feel like the queen and king of the river.” In agreement with many other residents, Marcello considers Waterplace Park a city hub: “If the park is the heart of the city, the river is the lifeblood,” He says. He hopes the rebirth of the local riverfront parallels a local renaissance for gondoliering as well, which inspired him to plan the Gondolympics.