The gondola is propelled like punting, except an oar is used instead of a pole. Their primary role today, however, is to carry tourists on rides at fixed rates. It is estimated that there were eight to ten thousand gondolas during the 17th and 18th century. There are just over four hundred in active service today, virtually all of them used for hire by tourists. Those few that are in private ownership are either hired out to Venetians for weddings or used for racing.
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