{mosimage}A gondola ride through Venice’s Grand Canal with the love of one’s life (or a sizzling 22-year-old Italian named Claudio) is the epitome of romance. Gondola Amore, in the Redondo Beach Marina, has brought the postcard image stateside. By sunset, moonlight, or the warm light of day, the outfit offers gondola trips that meander in and around our own Portofino Harbor. The shapely vessels are built by Italians locally in Gardena, but are different in the hull from traditional Venetian, canal-going gondolas; the Gondola Amore hulls are fortified for oceangoing conditions. In accordance with Italian sumptuary law, they are also painted black. In Venice, a single oar, or remo, is used, but ocean currents dictate the use of two, the thrust and trickle of which are metronomic. Brad, Gondola Amore’s charismatic and capable gondolier, is SoCal born and bred, but has perfected his own version of voga alla veneta, the traditional Venetian rowing technique. On special occasions, he has even been known to sing a startlingly heartfelt rendition of the classic “O Sole Mio” in a tender baritone. The ride itself is sensuous and stimulating. Don’t take it with an amante you’re unsure about. Emotions and libidos can run high on the high seas; Brad once had to fish a woman out of the water after a lovers’ spat, and has countless times tuned out lascivious goings-on in the open cabin. For those who can keep their hands to themselves, cruising the harbor is actually fascinating. An abandoned barge has become a way station for sea lions that, with their grunts and snorts, sound like a bunch of crotchety old men. The smell is less pleasant. You’ll also get a close-up view of all manner of watercraft docked in the harbor, from humble dinghy to suave schooner. Peak gondola days include Valentine’s Day and the Christmastime Redondo Beach Boat Parade. But, if the love is true, it’s likely a gondola ride, even on tax day, would pack romantic zing. Bring a bottle of wine and a warm jacket.

Gondola Amore Redondo Beach Marina, (310) 376-6977 or www.gondolaamore.com

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