Venice Flood Fundraiser

Help Venice Italy and our friends, the Venetians, recover from the 2nd worst acqua alta "high tide" in history.

The Long Beach/Venezia Friendship City (A 501c3) Committee has established an Emergency Fund to support our friends across the sea.  On the 12th of November, 2019 Venice declared a state of emergency.  The worst flood in the past 50 years hit the city, damaging people's houses, and businesses. We have seen the photos of the damaging high tides. With winds blowing at over 100km/h, a tide peaked at +187 cm over the sea level, flooding over 80% of the city, and creating an unprecedented wave of devastation for most residents affected.  You can help this world treasure rebuild!


Why Long Beach?

Venice and Long Beach have a unique relationship.  More than 100 years ago, the area we call Naples was designed as the Venice of the United States.  Gondolas took visitors, and prospective home buyers, from the Red Line Trains across Alamitos Bay to Naples.  The canals, bridges and the old Napoli Hotel all had a special link to that special place on the Adriatic. Five years ago Long Beach and Venezia were officially twinned as Friendship Cities.  Our mission has been to share our two cultures with each other through educational, environmental and business exchange programs.  We help and share with each other concepts that can make each City stronger. 

Our goal:

To raise at least $10,000 to help local businesses recover from the flood. 


1.      Local businesses have been heavily touched by the flood as they are usually located on the ground floor.

2.      Local businesses are already struggling and more often than not, when one of them closes it is a few more Venetian families having to leave their City. 

3.      By helping local businesses with this crisis, we are helping the community as a whole and securing the age-old traditions of the 1000 year old City.


The Back Story

The Gondola Getaway has been in business for 37 years now.  We have been traveling to Venezia now for 35 years to participate in a Gondola Regatta called the Vogalonga.  We bring a team from Long Beach to represent not only our hometown, but California and the United States.  We have been the only Americans to consistently bring a team to compete.  I have been leading this team every year and have been able to introduce many people through team members and Gondola Getaway customers to the ancient culture of The Venetians and their environs.  Our team each year has become the ambassadors of our City that carries our commitment to shores of Venezia.  Over the past 40 years we have developed unique and strong relationships with a handful of true Venetian businesses and families.  Our yearly sojourn is like a homecoming with these traditional Venetians.  They all share a deep sense of tradition and culture to the History of Venezia.  When this latest flood occurred, I instantly felt the need to help our friends in need.  I have made a list of our closest friends and businesses that I would like to help.  They have been good to us over the years and I find importance and love in each on this list I will share.  I have sent many people from So Cal and especially Long Beach over the years to visit these special people and locations.  Let’s help them now so they can carry on the 1,000-year-old culture that they in turn share with us.

Michael (Otolini) O'Toole
Owner Gondola Getaway
Pres. Long Beach/Venezia Friendship Cities

Who are we?

We are The Gondola Getaway and Long Beach/Venezia Friendship Cities 501c3.  Our dedication to sharing our culture and helping preserve theirs is our mission statement.

Our Beneficiaries:

(All funds raised will go directly to our chosen recipients to help them get back on their feet and carry on the traditions of Venezia.)


·        Le forcole di Saverio Pastor:  Saverio is one of the top Venetian Oar and Oar lock makers in Venezia.  There are not many artisans that make these custom products for the Traditional Gondola.  All oars and Forcole at the Gondola Getaway were made in this shop.  His shop had 4ft of water in it, destroying many of his tools, patterns and wood.


·        Bar alla toletta:  After 40 years of visiting Venezia, this place stands out as serving the best tamezzini in Venezia.  They are true to tradtion and daily serve the local students and residents of the Dorsoduro district.  Again, 4ft of water losing almost all refrigeration.


·        Tattoria alla Rampa:  A very traditional family restaurant serving locals daily. This place is a classic example of a generational business serving local foods to locals.  I have been eating at alla Rampa now for 40 years.  The present operators including the Kitchen staff and front house staff were small children when we first arrived.  All cooking equipment and furniture totally destroyed.


·        Maleti:  Another generational run establishment out on the Lido.  Very classic Venetian service, goods and foods.  I have been frequenting this spot for 40 years.  They fully welcome and embrace our Long Beach team each year giving our team a true taste of Venetian culture.  Completely flooded  from the floor up 4 ft.


·        Corner pub:  A small cozy, traditional Venetian spot.  For 40 years I have been bringing and sending Long Beach folk to this place where they are welcomed like family.  One of my top 5 places to eat and drink in the world.  They love Long Beach too!  Heavy damage throughout.  We need to help keep this place on the map for the next 40 years!


·        Casteo rowing club:  A true old school rowing club.  They have hosted our Long Beach team for years.  We are treated like old club members and it is time for Long Beach to give back by helping them in their time of need.


This is not your typical fundraiser.  Long Beach has a strong relationship with the ancient city of Venezia. They have fully accepted us into their Venetian family knowing of our complete love and respect for their most ancient traditions.  Though there are many in need because of the latest flooding, we have become exceptionally close with some very traditional businesses.  We are proud to know these Venetians as they constantly work to keep the Venetian culture alive.  These will be dollars that I can actually hand to them personally to buy a stove, tools, flooring, refrigerators, restocking wood supplies and more.  Any amount at all will go a long way because of this personal touch.  Donating to this cause will bring you into the Long Beach/Venezia relationship for evermore.  They are like family to us and as we all know, family in need, is family indeed!


Thanks for your support!

Michael (Otolini) O’Toole
Owner Gondola Getaway
President Long Beach/Venezia Friendship Cities


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Michael OToole 
Long Beach, CA
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