Ah, Venezia. There are gondoliers everywhere, but it's a bit pricey to hire one for half an hour. Still well worth it, especially if you are either with a group or trying to impress someone.
Laura Morelli with the assistance of Andrew Foerster provides a great lesson about the history and present status of the Venetian gondola in this animation from TED-Ed.
From the youtube page:
It’s hard to imagine Venice without the curious, banana-shaped gondolas that glide down the canals. How did these boats come to be the trademark transportation of Venice? Laura Morelli details the history of the gondola, explaining why these boats were needed, the painstaking process by which they were made and why they have slowly begun to fade from the once-crowded canals.
Lesson by Laura Morelli, animation by Andrew Foerster.