The gondola (; Italian: [ˈɡondola]) is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat, well suited to the conditions of the Venetian lagoon. It is similar to a canoe, except it is narrower. It is propelled by a gondolier, who uses a rowing oar, which is not fastened to the hull, in a sculling manner and acts as the rudder. For centuries, the gondola was "The Chief" means of transportation and most common watercraft within Venice. In modern times, the boats still do have a role in public transport in the city, serving as traghetti (small ferries) over the Grand Canal operated by two oarsmen. For some years there were seven traghetti, but by 2017, the number had been reduced to three. Various types of gondola boats are also used in special regattas (rowing races) held amongst gondoliers. Their primary role today, however, is to carry tourists on rides at fixed rates. There are approximately 400 licensed gondoliers in Venice and a similar number of boats, down from the thousands that travelled the canals centuries ago. However, they are now elegant craft instead of the various types of shabby home made boats of the distant past.
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