Venice is a city that emanates romance from every pore, and there is no better way to capture that romance than with a gondola ride through the canals. Historically gondolas were the primary means of transportation in the city and were often quite elaborate affairs. A city ordinance of 1562 put an end to the ornate gondolas, declaring that all gondolas must be painted black, a custom that continues to this day. The boats are propelled by gondoliers, a profession taken quite seriously in Venice. Controlled by a guild, each gondolier must undergo a long period of apprenticeship, followed by exams that test local history and landmarks, foreign language skills, and of course how to drive a gondola and navigate the Venetian archipelago. For an added touch of romance, some of the gondoliers are also musically adept, and for a fee will provide a fitting soundtrack to your canal cruise.