Monday, April 02, 2007

I am woman...

...see me oar:

After a 10-year struggle, a German woman has breached one of Italy's oldest male-only clubs to become Venice's first female gondolier.

Alexandra Hai, 35, cannot sing and she has failed her basic gondola-steering exam three times. Nevertheless, a regional court has ruled that she can ferry guests to three one-star hotels in the city.

....After an 150-hour training course, there is a written test on the technical aspects of the boat, and a practical test.

In Frau Hai's case, the test involved steering with a single oar the 500lb, 35ft gondola about half a mile up and down the narrow Rio del Vin. In spite of failing the test three times, she found a job with a hotel but was caught and fined £92 for illegal gondoliering by the city's authorities. Her employer, the hotel chain JM International, helped her win her appeal against the fine.

"It was a matter of principle," said Franco Martini, her employer. "The male gondoliers were not stingy with their insults and disgusting gestures."

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