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From Our Editors
For centuries, lovebirds have toured Venice's picturesque canals on gondola rides. And since 2006, couples have headed out onto the calm waters of Huntington Harbor aboard the same iconic Venetian boats, courtesy of Sunset Gondolas. To recreate the Italian experience as thoroughly as possible, the company's fleet is made up entirely of gondolas imported from Italy—and is the only company in Southern California with that distinction. Moreover, their gondoliers sport traditional striped shirt, and serenade passengers upon request. What's more, they're experts at their craft. Two of the boatswains have won the US Gondola Nationals for their skill in the authentic, 37-foot boats—Bepi, who won in 2012, and Stefano, who won in 2013.
Despite their prowess, however, the gondoliers often blend into the background during rides, letting the California scenery take center stage. From their seats, couples or convivial groups drink in views of the area's Venetian-style islands, canals, and bridges, all while snacking on picnic spreads and wine they brought along, or the chocolate-dipped strawberries provided in some packages. The gondoliers can tailor the rides to special occasions, too, including proposals and wedding ceremonies.