Venice's Boozy Gondoliers in Hot Water

By Victoria Kim 07/05/13

The Italian oarsmen could face drug and alcohol testing after reports of drunken antics.

Paddling under the influence? Photo via

The oarsmen in charge of paddling Venice's iconic gondolas could face random drug and alcohol testing after the city received complaints about gondoliers' unruly, drunken behavior. One incident, which ended up on YouTube, shows a 'ganser' (a gondolier's assistant who helps passengers in and out of the gondola) being told to take off his clothes and jump into the Grand Canal in a hazing ritual fueled by a group of seemingly liquored-up gondoliers. The video, which has since been taken down, was shown to city councilors last week. They called it a "despicable act" and said that those involved should have their licenses revoked. "Gondoliers represent our city in the world and must therefore respect historical tradition and values, as well as human dignity," the councilors said in a statement. The president of the gondoliers' association, Nicola Falconi, has called for random drug and alcohol testing for gondoliers and all canal boat drivers. "Given that unruly behavior is on the increase, I'm proposing tests which would be conducted without warning," he said. "We don't know if it's doable, but we at least need to try to tackle this growing problem." The proposal will be discussed in a Monday meeting.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr