In Venice, a Young Boatman Steers a Course of His Own
By F.H.B. White
“If there is a place for sailing,” said my friend Tom Furie, as we sat in the shade of an olive tree, “there is not one in this world that is preferable to Venice.” “What’s the appeal of Venice, Tom?” I asked. “Simply the beauty of its background, the clean air, the light.” “And the social life with the most intimate companionship,” he added. I thought my friend was referring especially to the number of companions one might find in Venice, but he said “the social life,” too.
It was while on our trip from Rome to Venice that I had my first opportunity to see the great canal district of Venice, and to see that the Canal was not only a picturesque sight but also a social center. The boats were larger and cleaner than those I had seen in Rome, and they would come and go more frequently. There were no “passenger boats,” and the canal appeared to be as navigable, and even as useful as when it was opened thirty-five years before. In that day in 1870, Venice was a commercial center. On the east end of the island, on the shore of the lagoon close to the Riva degli Schiavoni, the house of the Riva and the Dorsoduro hotels were opened. The Riva was built in 1871 and opened about a year later. In consequence of the opening of the Riva several new hotels were built. They were the Lido, Castello and Rialto among them. A fishing village was built close by.
I had a charming companion in my boat, the most charming boatman I knew. He was as kind