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“Cheesy? An emphatic NOT AT ALL!”
Review of La Gondola

La Gondola
Ranked #1 of 16 Tours in Providence
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Experience Providence from a new perspective! Benvenuto! We invite you to revel in the sights of the City from a unique vantage point that captures the heart of Providence. Enjoy an excursion along the Woonasquatucket and Providence Rivers and witness the revitalization of the City, river walks, and waterfront parks. Whether you are celebrating an anniversary or birthday, looking to propose to that special someone, or just on a vacation to the city, a gondola trip is a great way to make your visit to Providence memorable and unique. La Gondola operates three authentic Venetian gondolas along the Providence Riverwalk, accommodating up to six passengers at a time on each gondola. Reservations are highly recommended and are always exclusive to your party. We are open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Our season is from 1 May to 31 October, and of course trips are always subject to availability and the weather. La Gondola Providence: For Lovers, For Families, For Everyone.
Reviewed September 24, 2012

I read about this in my guidebook. My first thought was, “Is this going to be cheesy?” I've experienced a gondola ride in Venice, and this is... wait, in Providence? After reading Trip Advisor reviews, I was convinced to give it a try. Without the reviews, I would have been afraid to book a trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary (mid-September), though I secretly wondered if all the reviews had been written by friends and family of La Gondola.

We booked the basic trip - Viaggio di Sogni (Dreams). I thought it would be nice to experience just our gondolier’s singing. I’m really glad I did - it felt intimate and relaxed. (Also, I don’t know where a musician sits, so I didn’t want to worry about someone blocking our view.) Marcello was our gondolier, and he was delightful. We enjoyed watching him set up our gondola – adding all the decorative touches including a deep red oriental runner on the lovely polished wood floor (deck?). He told us one or two stories, including how he got started in the business, and offered a bit of local history. He serenaded us with a couple of old-fashioned sweet songs in English and some more beautiful songs, this time in Italian. He has a gorgeous voice, and he didn’t sing at the top of his lungs, which I appreciated. He simply sang for us. For our beautiful-weather evening, there were a couple of gondolas on the water, and it was peaceful and romantic.

DO bring a camera, and do shoot some video during a song, especially as you go under one of the bridges. You don’t need to be facing your gondolier – just shoot so that you can capture that voice.
DO book a sunset trip so that you’ll have part of your time in daylight and part of it in the dark.
Suggestion: I can imagine just driving down from Boston for an early dinner and a sunset gondola ride.

If you’ve done this in Venice, don’t compare this trip. It’s NOT Venice… it’s its own trip! (And there’s no airfare involved.)

I didn’t care for the Italian wine biscuits, and my husband thought they were just okay. But I guess there had to be ONE thing that I wouldn’t give 5 stars to! :)

According to the Urban Dictionary, "Cheesy" means “Trying too hard, unsubtle, and inauthentic.” Our experience with Marcello couldn't have been further from that.

So, GO, before the season ends at the end of October!

(Attached photos seem to be out of order, but you can figure it out by the fading light.)

Thank ouallezvous
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LaGondolaProv, Owner at La Gondola, responded to this reviewResponded October 2, 2012

Dear Ouallezvous,

When I first read this review, I was humbled and a little dumbstruck, honestly. There really isn't much more for me to say than...thank you.

Having said that, I am NOT a man of few words, for better or worse, so I will remark on a couple of your comments in particular.

First, believe it or not, NONE of these reviews are written by friends or family of La Gondola! I cannot make you believe that, but I appreciate you mentioning it at the beginning; it gives an even greater weight to your words, in my opinion, and I am very happy that you came in with expectations that ended up being met.

Just in case you come back down to Providence for another trip and would like to try something different, the musician sits behind the main seat (where you two were sitting,) directly in front of the gondolier, so he or she will not ever be in your way of enjoying the sights of the city.

You are absolutely correct; we are NOT Venice, and cannot replicate that experience (I have been there as well, and every trip has been, for me, like making a pilgrimage. We tell people that we cannot be Venice, but there are some advantages as well (like being one of only three gondolas maximum out on the water, travel time is drastically shorter and less expensive (if you are reading this review on this side of the Atlantic,) and the fact that we speak WAY better English!)

I do appreciate your criticism regarding the wine biscuits as well. We get our wine biscuits handmade for us from a local deli, and as such the batches can change slightly. If you have any particular suggestions on how we could improve on that part of the trip, please do call or email me and I can see what changes might be made to the recipe.

Once again, I thank you very humbly for your words; perhaps I will have the pleasure of seeing you two on the water again one day. Until then,

Grazie e ciao,
Matthew "Marcello" Haynes
La Gondola Providence, Inc.

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308 - 312 of 343 reviews

Reviewed September 23, 2012

Last night, we took our 16 year old great niece and her parents to La Gondola. The occasion was the "sweet 16th" birthday and her parents' 29th anniversary. It was our 5th time on the gondolas. The owner, Marcello, his brother, Allesandro, and the complete staff was the most gracious you could ask for. We also had their 19 year old opera singer Adalina on board. She is a delight to listen to.

We have also been with friends and relatives and by ourselves and each experience was as good as last night. We have been to Venice and ridden down the Grand Canal in a gondola. Believe me when I say..........this is Better Than The Original!

Thank LGW111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LaGondolaProv, Owner at La Gondola, responded to this reviewResponded October 2, 2012

Dear LGW111,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review of us. My brother and I have been working together for 5 seasons now, and he really has become my strong right arm, on which I lean as much as I can. It is one of the greatest blessings of our jobs, to have the opportunity to work side by side, and it was great to get to take the trip with you all and him together. Adelina, of course, is amazing, and I can hardly believe that she has been with us for three seasons already!

I always love to see people come back to take another trip with us. Truth be told, it keeps us all motivated to learn new songs, new information about the city, etc., so that hopefully the experience never gets old.

It was indeed so wonderful seeing you two and your family/friends again, and I will look forward to repeating the experience sometime soon. If we don't see you beforehand, I hope you have a fabulous winter!

Grazie e ciao,
Matthew "Marcello" Haynes
La Gondola Providence, Inc.

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Reviewed September 19, 2012

Everyone who visits Providence, RI must take the gondola ride at La Gondola. Our experience was so enjoyable we couldn't wait to tell somebody about it. This is a wondeful way to appreciate the skyscrapers of Providence. The fact that we could bring our own wine was a bonus. It was opened and served by one of the gondoliers and we were presented with etched wine glasses with a picture of the gondola and the skyline to commemorate the experience. Our gondolier, Rosario, was so entertaining and surprised us with a serenade of two beautiful Italian songs. We felt like we were in Italy. He also gave us some history of the area and the buildings along the water. Don't miss this!

Thank Carol C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LaGondolaProv, Owner at La Gondola, responded to this reviewResponded September 25, 2012

Dear Carol C,

Thank you very much for posting this review of us! I honestly feel that the gondola experience is one that anybody can enjoy: lovers, families, friends, and more, because of the way that each gondolier really tries to tailor the trip to the people he has on board. They really all do a great job, and Rosario particularly, as evidenced by the amount of publicity he gets on TripAdvisor! We strive to make the trip as authentic and personal as possible, and I am SO pleased that you found a number of positive things about your experience.

Thank you once again, and perhaps we won't have to wait long to see you back on the gondola, should you make it back to New England in the near future. Until then,

Grazie e ciao!
Matthew "Marcello" Haynes
La Gondola Providence, Inc.

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Reviewed September 19, 2012

Celebrated our anniversary by booking a gondola ride during Waterfire in Providense & it was the absolute Best!! Marcello our gondolier was magnificent,gave us a lil history while drifting down the river & sang romantic italian love songs as well ,everyone needs to experience this!!

Thank true2u
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LaGondolaProv, Owner at La Gondola, responded to this reviewResponded September 25, 2012

Dear true2u,

Thank you so much for posting this review of us! I am humbled by your praise, and greatly appreciate it. Thanks also for the photos; they are terrific! WaterFire is quite a spectacle, and we think that the gondolas are a nice complement to it both before and during the display.

Personally, my preference is to row beforehand, as I feel that the trip is more personal before the loud music begins, but either way, I try to give everyone who meets me on the boat the best trip that I can, and instill that same motivation into the rest of the guys. They really all do a tremendous job striving to improve the operation at each opportunity that they have to do so.

I truly hope that you two had a wonderful anniversary celebration, and perhaps I will have the pleasure of seeing you on the water again sometime soon.

Tante grazie!
Matthew "Marcello" Haynes
La Gondola Providence, Inc.

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Reviewed September 18, 2012

Especially as part of Waterfire, this is truly an experience not to miss. The gondoliers were friendly, talented and had voices of chrubs. The cookies they provided were delectable. I have done gondola rides in Venice, so I do have something to compare it to. I'll definitely do this again.

Thank Donna S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LaGondolaProv, Owner at La Gondola, responded to this reviewResponded September 21, 2012

Dear Donna S,

Thank you very much for posting this review of us. I will certainly pass along your compliments to the gondoliers and to Maria, our accordion player, whose deli makes the wine biscuits that we serve on the trips. I know the gondoliers will agree with you that they are delectable; they are always angling to have some themselves!

I appreciate, also, you comparing the trip to your experience in Venice. We strive to be as authentic as possible, but obviously there are some things about Venice that we could never replicate. Having said that, we feel that there are some things that we have in Providence that the Venetians could not copy as well (for one, it's nice to be one of only three gondolas on the water at any given time, instead of one of 500+.) All we can hope is that the gondola experience in Providence isn't worse or better, just magical in a different way.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to post this review. I will look forward to seeing you again on a gondola in Providence sometime soon!

Grazie e ciao,
Matthew "Marcello" Haynes
La Gondola Providence, Inc.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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