The clash between meritocracy and maintaining family traditions is a perennial headache in business. It has taken on extra significance in Venice, where gondoliering has been passed from father to son for 1,000 years.

Yet a new rule making it even easier for the children of existing gondoliers to obtain a lucrative license to join the ancient profession has sparked allegations of nepotism in the lagoon city over a job that can bring in more than $117,000 a year.

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