Ahh Venice…. The ethereal romance of Italy’s “floating city” is unmatched, with one exception: Oakland’s Lake Merritt?! That’s right. Courtesy of Gondola Servizio, Bay Area folks can capture the intrigue of a Venetian gondola tour that’s just steps away from downtown Oakland. Operating out of the old pump house turned Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill, trained gondoliers (including the co-owner, Angelino) take the helm of a fleet of authentic wooden gondolas direct from the 400-year-old shop of Roberto Dei Rossi. Cozy up in the arms of a loved one, enjoy a sparkling glass of Prosecco and listen to the soothing sounds of the gondolier serenading you to the tune of Tempo D’estate A Venezia. The calm Lake Merritt water and views of the Oakland city skyline may not quite match up to the Grand Canal, but for amor close to home, this Bay Area version of a centuries-old tradition delivers. Venezia—un sogno romantico!
TIP: Before or after your gondola ride, take a stroll around Lake Merritt’s 3-mile trail. The lake’s “necklace of lights” will illuminate the path.
Gondola Servizio shares a dock with the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill at 1520 Lakeside Dr. in Oakland. To make a reservation, call 510-663-6603 and speak with April or complete their online reservation form. They offer several different tour packages starting at $40. As of press time, spots are still available for Valentine’s Day.