A Piece of Venice: HNU Graduate Provides a “Touch of Italy” in Oakland

April Quinn ’09 and her husband Angelino Sandri are the proprietors of Gondola Servizio, an Oakland-based business that provides authentic Venetian gondola cruises on Lake Merritt. Established in 1999, Gondola Servizio operates out of Lake Merritt’s historic Pump House, where the company shares a dock with the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill. “Our goal is to offer an authentic Italian experience,” said April. “Our charming gondoliers have learned Venetian rowing, traditional songs, history and legends to combine both an informative and entertaining experience for all passengers.”

An alumna of Holy Names University, April participated in HNU’s Single Subject Credential Program and holds a preliminary Single Subject Credential in English. She has been a teacher in Oakland area schools.

April is responsible for overseeing Gondola Servizio reservations and customer inquiries, while Angelino rows and manages the company’s fleet of three gondolas. “The pride of our brand is authenticity,” commented April. “We focus on being an extension of Venice and want to share the history and culture with our customers. Our fleet consists of authentic hand-crafted Venetian gondolas, direct from the 400-year-old shop of Roberto Dei Rossi.”

The decision to launch Gondola Servizio at Lake Merritt was right on the mark. Often referred to as the Heart of Oakland, the Lake’s central location between the Downtown Business District and the shops and restaurants of Lakeshore and Grand Avenue placed Gondola Servizio at the center of Oakland’s ongoing art, culture and culinary boom. “We have been part of the Oakland renaissance,” reflected April. “The community’s pride and support for local small business have contributed to our success.”

During its first 10 years of operation, Gondola Servizio operated from the Lake Merritt Sailboat House. The passage of Measure DD in 2002 (the Oakland Trust for Clean Water and Safe Parks) opened the way for the renovation and enhancement of park space and facilities around the lake, including Gondola Servizio’s current location.

In addition to experiencing the allure and romance of an authentic gondola cruise, Gondola Servizio’s customers begin and end their Lake Merritt adventure in the company’s chic boutique gift shop. The boutique includes imported gifts direct from Italy and features a wide selection of whimsical items from local artists.

For more information about Gondola Servizio visit www.gondolaservizio.com or call 1-888-SERVIZIO.

From the Winter/Spring 2012 edition of HNU Today Magazine.

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