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  • Writer's pictureLisa Codianne Fowler

A Romantic Gondola Ride in Sarasota

That's amore!

“You don't have to cancel or reschedule celebrating your life due to social isolation! Romantic dates, birthdays, anniversaries, proposals, outing with the family - Sarasota Gondola offers you an opportunity to celebrate in the most unique, romantic, and safe way.” ~ Boris Tsatskin, owner Sarasota Gondola

Launched circa 1100, the gondola was once the chief method of transportation in Venice, Italy. Today, it marries scenic waterways, fine wine, soulful song, and pure romance. Oddly enough, while Venice, Florida - known for its ubiquitous canals reminiscent of its Mediterranean namesake - does not lay claim to the centuries-old experience, Sarasota does.

The Sarasota Gondola tour starts and ends at Phillipi Creek Village Restaurant & Oyster Bar, re-opened for outdoor waterfront dining and convenient for a pre- or post-ride meal. Alternatively, bring beverages and snacks on board to enjoy while taking in the picturesque waterways and golden glow of sunset.

Boris rowing his gondola in Phillipi Creek, Sarasota

From Russia with Love

Born in Ukraine on the shores of the Black Sea, Boris Tsatskin always had a love of water. A competitive rower since his early teens, he was a Russian Navy officer and part of the Soviet Olympic Rowing Team in 1984, twice champion of the USSR, and a world champion the junior rowing competition in Palermo, Italy. He moved to the US, where he embarked on several ventures, and even delivered pizzas for Dominoes, one of few companies that would hire him though he didn’t speak English at the time. A self-taught saxophone player, singer, and entertainer, he formed a band called Dominoes – in honor of his former employer and has been performing for cultural, community, and private events all over Florida for the past ten years.

Boris learned English, built his first Gondola, and launched Sarasota Gondola in 2001. Boris also coaches the Sarasota Scullers and Osprey Oars junior rowing club. “I’m rowing all the time, I’m coaching crew team. This is my love.”

Oh Solo Mio

Though the gondola comfortably and safely accommodates six passengers, we were a party of four, “party” being the operative word. Warm sunshine, cool breezes, and tranquil waters set a festive stage.

Fluent in more than seven languages, Boris belted out a soul-stirring version of “Oh Solo Mio”, his booming baritone voice richly enhanced as we glided through a tunnel. “Beautiful!” we shouted in unison. “I’m doin’ this for 19 years,” he smiled. “Everybody sounds good in the shower, right? Okay, let’s sing together.”

Amid laughter and clinking glasses, we all joined in. “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…” By the end of the trip, we were all feeling the amore.

If you go:

● Call 941-954-1051 for reservations and information

Originally written for The Tampa Bay Times; updated 5-21-20

Photos courtesy Sarasota Gondola

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