It can be difficult, as a visitor, to step off the tourist treadmill in Venice. Until recently, it was a city besieged by tourism, with 60,000 outsiders a day filling streets and waterways that are home to just 50,000 permanent residents.
In normal times, Row Venice, which is run by a group of passionate vogatrice (oarswomen), gives upright rowing lessons to tourists. Since 2008, the teachers, many of whom are champion racers, have shown guests the fine points of rowing in a traditional, hand-crafted batellina (wooden boat), which is a bit more stable than the classic banana-shaped gondola. The New York Times covered the school several years back.
Today, with no tourists to teach, Row Venice is pitching in to help quarantined Venetians.
The group has volunteered its services, using boats to deliver supplies to locals in need.
When tourism opens up again, Row Venice will presumably return to showing foreigners the tricky art of canal navigation, and, as before, end lessons with some barhopping by boat.
Until then, thank you. Benedizioni e gratitudine per queste meravigliose vogatrice!