Alexandra Hai is born on March 14, 1967 in Birkenfeld, Germany.
photo Courtesy of Hotel Locanda Salieri
Alexandra Hai is the first female in the city of Venice who is paid to row clients around the city in a gondola. This does not technically entitle her to be called a "gondolier" (despite occasional press reports which use the term), because she has not met the criteria established by the Ente Gondola, the official organization which governs the craft. She has attempted and failed the rowing test several times, hence she has never been admitted to the training course, therefore she cannot apply for one of the coveted and limited gondolier licenses. In conclusion gondoliers are very jealous about their art…
© photo by Fausto Maroder
For me she is the first female gondolier in Venice, and no matter that she is without license and she is not a real Gondoliere dressed in the gondolier's striped t-shirt. In point of fact also "Gondoliere de casada" sounds good. This unique service is proposed as an exclusivity for the guests of the hotels "Hotel Locanda Salieri", "San Samuele" and "Locanda Art Deco". Alex speaks English, German and Italian.
She has instead created a job for herself as a sort of free agent, and currently works for those three hotels as a private gondolier. This is a job which has never previously been done, although many patrician families historically kept their own gondolas and their own private gondoliers, known as gondoliers "de casada." There are no more such gondoliers at this time.
© photo by Fausto Maroder
July 2005 Alexandra Hai launched her own gondola naming her "Pegaso" (Pegasus) after the winged horse in Greek mythology, son of Poseidon and the Gorgon Medusa.
Gianfranco “Crea” Vianello, a Venetian gondola builder on the island of Guidecca, restored this gondola for her. He was a supporter of Hai in her pursuit to become a gondolier and also helped her in fine-tuning her rowing technique.
Hai dedicated her gondola to the French revolutionary Anacharsis), a pseudonym for Jean-Baptiste du Val-de-Grâce, Baron de Cloots. He was of Prussian origin and made a French citizen by the Revolutionary Convention Nationale. He took the name Anacharsis during the French Revolution and was executed in 1794.
Hai chose the Venetian dialect verse as the theme for her gondola: "E la luna nassara’ per sognar un altro di’" (And the moon will be born to dream of another day)
See more photos by Fausto Maroder in Fausto's Alloggi Barbaria Blog. His photos are with Copyright, I used them with his permission.