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I’ve dreamed of cruising on a romantic Venetian gondola and being serenaded with Italian love songs.

I didn’t have to travel any further than Lake Merritt in Oakland. The proprietors of Gondola Servizio, 568 Bellevue Avenue in Oakland, told me this is the most authentic gondola experience outside of Venice. Their gondolas are handcrafted in Venice.

The oldest bird sanctuary in the United States, Lake Merritt is home to egrets, geese, mallards and a variety of migratory birds.

So, without a flight to Europe, I got to toast my sweetie as we left the dock, snuggle close and listen as our gondolier filled the evening with strains of Santa Lucia in his rich baritone voice. We watched the sun set and the city lights flicker on as we glided across the water.

Owners April and Angelino met on April’s first ride with the handsome gondolier. Angelino sang softly to her, and told her it was a tradition to kiss the gondolier under a bridge. He later admitted he made up the kissing part. They now enjoy bringing a little Venetian romance to their guests.

Thirty-minute rides are $45 per couple.

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leeannbuvinger Aug. 25, 2009 @ 8:16 p.m.

Did you know they have authentic Venetian Gondolas right here in San Diego as well! Their website is www.gondolacompany.com You get a choice of chocolate covered strawberries or an antipasto plate for your cruise. You can also bring anything you want to drink ie. wine, champagne, beer or soda. You have to call (619) 429-6317 for reservations.


travelergrey Sept. 2, 2009 @ 8:31 a.m.

Ummm... HELLO! Do your research Reader reporters! There's a great gondola service right here in San Diego at the Coronado Cays. I took my husband for our anniversary and it was fantastic. Highly recommend the chocolate strawberries and we also had a musician on our cruise playing live mandolin. It was incredible and much closer than Oakland!


Josh Board Sept. 2, 2009 @ 9:35 a.m.

I'm guessing the initial story is from someone that works for that company, as most people have heard about the gondolas right here in San Diego/Coronado.

As to the mandolin player, I'm sure that's the norm. But could you hire someone to play a different instrument? Just to mix it up a bit.


Jane Belanger Sept. 2, 2009 @ 9:36 a.m.

With all due respect, travelergrey, this is a travel story.


Josh Board Sept. 2, 2009 @ 9:44 a.m.

jane...I thought the same thing, but the problem with that logic is this. the writer says in the opening that they've dreamed of riding a gondola, and DIDN'T HAVE TO TRAVEL FARTHER....well, that would make sense IF this is the closest you could get to a gondola without going to the Venice canals. It implies, to the readers that might not know better, that this is the closest place to San Diego that you could enjoy such an experience.

The writer also talks about this experience, without the flight to Europe. Well, a gondola ride can be done without a drive to SF, but just a trek over to Coronado.


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