Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gondola ride from Venice to Vatican

I found this on

Man rows gondola to St. Peter's
Gondolier 'tired but happy' after charity voyage
(ANSA) - Rome, September 19 - A Venetian man has rowed his gondola down to Rome to raise money for African children and kids with rare diseases around the world.

"I'm pretty tired but it was worth it," said professional gondolier Vittorio Orlo after his craft was hoisted into pride of place in St.Peter's Square ahead of a Wednesday audience with the pope.

Orlo, 43, took 17 days to steer his craft along the Adriatic coast from Venice before crossing Italy on a network of canals and rivers to the source of the Tiber on the borders between Tuscany and Lazio.

"From then on it was increasingly plain sailing as the river grew to give me an easy passage," Orlo said.

"And of course, there are very few craft on the river these days".

But the veteran gondolier said he had had "a few dodgy moments" while negotiating the choppy waters of the Adriatic.

The gondola is a flat-bottomed boat well-suited to Venice's canals but completely out of its depth in the open sea.

"I don't know what I would have done if the coast guard hadn't been shepherding me along," said the intrepid boatman.

Vatican sources said Orlo's feat was "an extraordinary initiative, an example of rare courage in the best of causes".

Funds raised by the charity will go towards helping poor children in the African country of Togo, as well as funding research at a Venice hospital that specialises in rare pediatric diseases.

Children suffering from some of those ailments were on hand with their families to see Orlo's gondola arrive.

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