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TOPSHOT - Two women members of " Row Venice ", a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the traditional Venetian rowing style, rows on a gondolini boat, past a Banksy artwork as they deliver food to families who do not have the opportunity to go to buy food, on April 18, 2020 in the Venice's canal. - Parts of Europe moved cautiously to reopen their streets and economies on April 16, 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) was far from beaten and the World Health Organization warned the continent was still in the "eye of the storm". (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO/AFP via Getty Images)

Delivering Hope by Gondola

During the course of the worldwide pandemic, realization that older adults and individuals with compromised immune systems are the greatest at risk. As such, even making an ordinary trip to the grocery store has become threatening. In response, grocery delivery services have sprung up across the globe to help support these communities.

As northern Italy prepares and anticipates a return to a new life as its quarantine lockdown lifts, women in Venice are delivering groceries to elderly people in the best way they know how – by gondola. ‘Row Venice’ is an all-female non-profit group dedicated to preserving traditional Venetian gondolier techniques. For weeks they have been delivering food to the elderly and families who cannot shop for themselves.

Wearing masks and gloves, the rowers collect requests and navigate Venice’s winding canals to bring the groceries to a home or meeting point on their shrimp-tailed Batele boats, which are similar to a gondola but designed for cargo. As the women gondoliers row along the canals of Venice, they specialize in bringing organic produce to the Venetians who need them the most. Part of their rowing efforts include acting as the delivery service on behalf of farms located outside of Venice.

A spokesperson for Row Venice described the process as being very straightforward. The orders for produce are placed online and the women then receive instructors for the grocery pickup. Delivery is accomplished by way of the canals. “We offer an ecological transportation solution, lending a hand in this difficult time as we return to the origins of the city itself,” posted the group on Instagram.

Venice has changed dramatically since the coronavirus arrived in the city during the month of February. In a city that has seen a spike in tourism in recent years, the lockdown has created an entirely different atmosphere in the lagoon city. With little manmade traffic, the sediment in the water has now settled on the bottom of the canals, leaving them sparkling clean. For weeks, more and more aquatic life and water fowl have been observed returning to the city. In some cases, it may be the first time that some species of fish have ventured through the canals in centuries. The nonprofit hopes to continue its eco-friendly deliveries after Italy’s lockdown is lifted. It also posted the following message: “We hope that this service will not be forgotten after the emergency passes and that other companies are persuaded that eco-sustainable rowing, albeit slower, is a viable choice.”