The tourists were apprehended after taking the gondola for the Venice tour


(CNN) – Another week, another horrible behavior by Italian tourists.

On the heels of a woman posing naked on the steps of the Amalfi Cathedral, two tourists who went to Venice have been arrested for stealing a gondola.

The couple, said to be French citizens, are accused of stealing a gondola from the Accademia station, near the famous bridge of the same name, to go for a ride on the Grand Canal around 1:30 on Thursday morning.

The gondola’s owner, Giorgio Bognolo, said the boat’s contents — a cover, cushions, decorations and other items worth hundreds of dollars — were thrown into the canal before being rowed out like a canoe.

He said they intercepted the walkers when they saw three villagers in a passing boat zigzagging across the canal and realized something was wrong.

Tourists threw Bognolo’s gondola interiors and decorations into the canal.

Giorgio Bognolo

‘They were laughing’

In addition to facing criminal charges of aggravated robbery, the couple also face a civil lawsuit seeking damages from Bognolo.

The gondolier told CNN that he called police at 3:10 a.m. because he identified the boat as his.

“They used it as a canoe, but a gondola is not like a canoe; it doesn’t go straight forward,” he said. “It’s not an easy boat to maneuver, it moves to and fro and stops. You paddle standing up, forcola“– a curved piece of wood into which a single oar fits.

“The three guys immediately saw it was stolen, stopped and called the police. They saved my gondola, otherwise who knows where it would have been by morning.”

Bognolo said the two tourists — both male and in their 30s — were laughing when he came to identify his gondola, which ended up at the Guggenheim Museum, about 1,000 meters from its starting point.

“They seemed happy, very happy. They didn’t apologize, they didn’t say sorry. They were cold, it was ugly, that’s what really hurt me. They were laughing like it was all a game.

“They did a really ugly thing – if I did something like that in France, they’d lock it up. They’re very lucky. [to have done it in Italy]. The police kept us apart, but I’d like to slap them.’

The pair of tourists stole the gondola overnight while it was moored near the Academy Bridge.

The pair of tourists stole the gondola overnight while it was moored near the Academy Bridge.

John Appearance/Adobe Stock

Gondolas are not cheap mass-produced boats. Bognolo says the hand-carved and inlaid bowl cost 60,000 euros ($59,000), and he spends 3,000 euros repainting it every year.

“Gondolas are really delicate and beautiful, and it takes a lot of money to maintain one,” he said. “It’s like sending your daughter off to school bundled up. I spend a lot of money on her maintenance. It feels like someone touching your wife or your daughter.”

‘This is not Disneyland’

Bognolo’s lawyer, Augusto Palese, told CNN that his client is seeking damages of around €10,000-15,000 ($9,900-$14,750) for items allegedly thrown from the gondola, as well as scratches and damage to the boat. Damages will also be sought for loss of earnings for the days it is repaired, plus “moral damages.”

The civil claim is expected to be completed in about a month, while the criminal case could take up to six months.

And he said moving forward with charges isn’t just about money.

“If people do harm they have to pay, but it’s also for our image,” he told CNN. “A lot of times people think they come here to Disneyland, or to a theme park. In fact, a gondola is something that someone needs to live and work in. You can’t steal it.

“The gondola is a symbol… [damaging it] It’s like throwing stones at the Eiffel Tower.’

“They fell once [a stolen gondola] By the time we reached them on New Years, one of them was dying of hypothermia. We saved him,” he said.

CNN has arrived in Venice State Police police for comment.