Made out of 280 pieces of wood, the gondola is designed with a longer left-hand side, which allows gondoliers to row it without changing the side the oar is on. Typically, eight different kinds of wood were used in the crafting of a gondola: mahogany, cherry, fir, walnut, oak, elm, larch, and lime. 
In 1481, a gondola was used by the Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze to rescue Caterina Sforza when the Countess of Forlì was stranded on an islet in the marshes of Romagna. He also ensured the safety of Rosa's gondola in Venice from hostile guards as another man, Ugo, ferried the injured thief back to the Venetian Thieves Guild.
Behind the scenes
Gondolas can be found and used as a vehicle in Florence, Romagna, and Venice in Assassin's Creed II and in Naples in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Their design in the games are anachronistic because they are based on their real-world appearance of today which only came into being in the early 20th century; they are missing the felze, i.e. the cabin covers, which were present on gondolas until the 1900s. 
Assassin's Creed II
If the player, as Ezio Auditore, gets on top of an occupied gondola, the civilian rowing it will automatically jump off and drown. Unlike the bodies of other non-player characters that fall into water, those of drowned gondoliers neither float nor exhibit underwater silhouettes. However, grabbing onto the front, notched portion of the gondola allows Ezio to ride along with the gondolier, without prompting them to jump off.
Ezio can fall from any height onto a gondola—as long as he was not diving—and not take any damage as a result. In addition, it is possible to glitch a gondolier by dropping onto the boat from a building and landing directly behind them. The boat will stop moving, allowing Ezio to steer it as normal, but until he leaves the boat and gets back on, the gondolier will continue to row along, unaware of his presence.
Gondolas covered with cloth can be looted for florins, but they cannot be piloted. Looting a gondola in clear sight of guards will not provoke them, but they will acknowledge the act.
The naval cannon, which features in the War Machine memory "Loose Cannon", have identical controls to that of the gondola with the exception that the player can switch between rowing and firing the cannon. Gameplay-wise, the gondola functions exactly the same as any other rowboat in the series, such as the felucca in Assassin's Creed: Origins and Assassin's Creed: Odyssey.