While it may not be the Grand Canal in Venice, you can experience an authentic Venetian Gondola ride on Lake Merritt in Oakland, California.

Operating year round, Gondola Servizio offers private tours (meaning you are not thrown together with strangers) on a reservation only basis.  Come as a couple for a romantic sunset rid, or put together a party of up to six for a more festive occasion. 

Available cruise packages include:

  • Marco Polo:  30 minute tour, $45 for two people, additional guests $10 per person.
  • Casanova:  55 minute tour, $75 for two people, additional guests $10 per person.
  • Promessi Sposi:  A photographers delight, and a popular choice for special occasions.  Gondola Servizio will work with your photographer to create a photo-worthy event.  This is a popular package for engagement and wedding photos, and family portraits.  $225 for two people, additional guests $10.

Group tours are also offered, and customized requests are always considered

From September through May cruises are offered Wednesday through Sunday, from 5 pm – midnight.  During the Summer (June through August), cruises are offered daily.

Use the Fairyland entrance of Lake Merritt, and park in the Gondola Servizio parking lot.  You’ll meet your gondolier out on the dock.

I’m still holding out for a ride in Venice, but till then, this will be the next best thing.

Photo credit:  FreeFoto