Gondolas are synonymous with Venice, especially for tourists who daydream of taking a peaceful ride down the city’s canals, while a man in a striped shirt sings a ballad. And in the COVID-era, even though there are no tourists around, gondolas remain an essential part of the city.

With the city still on lockdown, and COVID-19 still a very real threat in the area, an all-female nonprofit organization is creatively using gondolas to help Venice’s most vulnerable residents..

Usually, Row Venice hosts gondolier lessons for tourists, and promotes the traditional art of Venetian rowing, but for now the group of women is offering a free delivery service to the elderly and the immunocompromised. Rowers collect grocery requests from across the city and then deliver them to customers’ homes, or at a designated meeting point, via gondola.

In addition to providing a helpful service for a vulnerable population, Row Venice is also a sustainable delivery alternative, which the group hopes will continue even after the pandemic is over.