How I stuck my oar in – and saw a Venice I’ve never seen before

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Venetians are reviving a centuries-old rowing tradition to promote a sustainable way of getting around, and to show visitors the city at its most authentic

One of the clues to how Venice was built is the stone it’s built on: the white, pocked stone capping the fondamente that line the city’s canals is pietra d’Istria – a type of limestone that was quarried in what is now Croatia. So how did it get to the other side of the Adriatic sea, to form the foundations of Venice? By boat, of course.

“The city was built with traditional boats and for traditional boats. You have to see the city from the water to understand it,” says Emiliano Simon, one of the founders of Venetian rowing and boating association Venice on Board, as we stand on the white stone next to its offices in the northern Cannaregio district.

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