My husband’s grandfather was Venetian, and a champion rower. In 1946, when he won the Regata Storica, World War II had recently come to a close, the city of Venice’s coffers were empty, and his award was a gondolier’s license. At the time, there was little tourism in Venice, and few wealthy families could afford a personal gondolier. Lupo, as he was known, would have preferred a cash prize like those he’d won before the war. However, he set the license aside (decades later it would be handed down to his son and then to my husband) and he continued to toil his farmland in Treporti–a remote lagoon town which today is a 40 minute ferryboat ride from Venice’s historical center. Lupo’s physical strength, technique, speed, and his livelihood, came from rowing his boat filled with fresh produce that same distance, every day. He knew the best way to sell his produce at a good price was to arrive early, and first. Venice, her islands, her lagoon and her land were Lupo’s lifeline.
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