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Venice Tour in Gondola


There is no traveler who does not let himself be enchanted by the magic of Venetian gondolas, which with their unmistakable silhouettes creep through the canals of the city, cloaking every single glimpse of romance.  These boats represent an essential element of Venetian scenarios but there are things that perhaps not everyone knows about the symbol par excellence of the Serenissima, such as the complexity of their construction, the ancient techniques of construction, the uniqueness of each specimen and the symbolism that contain some  of its components.  Here, then, is what there is to know about what many consider to be the most romantic and fascinating boats on the planet.

 THE TRADITION Their irresistible charm and the romanticism evoked by their sinuous shapes that roam the canals of the Serenissima have traveled the world and are one of the major attractions of the magnificent Venetian capital.  But besides being incredibly beautiful and romantic, Venetian gondolas have a very long tradition, even millenary.  Their appearance, as demonstrated by the numerous documentary and pictorial testimonies, has undergone numerous variations over the centuries and today the 500 specimens that plow the city waters maintain unchanged the characteristics that have distinguished them for about 200 years.  Today, as in the past, the symbolic boats of Venice are built according to complex techniques handed down from generation to generation within the squeri.  Once these yards, which take their name from the squara (the team), a tool used for the construction of boats, were very numerous and all overlooking the Grand Canal, testifying to the importance of their activity.  Today there are five remaining located in different parts of the city and in each of them we still work without design drawings but based exclusively on the experience gained.  Precisely for this reason the work of the squerarolo requires a long apprenticeship of at least 36 months and only after passing an exam is it possible to undertake this delicate activity.  Each gondola, in fact, requires several months of construction and about 500 hours of work and, considering that the average life of the boat is about twenty years, to keep the current fleet of 500 constant elements it is necessary to build about 20 - 30 each.  year.

 FEATURES Each squero consists of a square sloping towards the water for the access of boats, has a fence on two sides and a wooden construction behind it called tesa, used as a storage area for tools and as protection from the elements.  The area adjacent to or above the squero is sometimes used as the home of the master squerarolo or the owner.  The gondolas that are produced there are boats about 11 meters long and 600 kilograms heavy.  Each of them has a characteristic asymmetry between the right side and the left side, which is about 24 centimeters wider, and a flat bottom that allows navigation even with very shallow waters.  Each is made up of 280 parts and sports a black wooden hull due to the waterproofing treatment based on pitch.  Eight types of wood are used and in particular, oak, fir, elm, cherry, larch, walnut, linden or mahogany wood.  The only metal parts are the "iron" in the bow and the "risso" in the stern.  Although the distinctive characteristics are common to each specimen, each gondola is, in reality, a unique piece because it is made to measure for the gondolier who will have to operate it.  In particular, for its construction, the height and weight of its driver is taken into account and, therefore, the bow "iron", which has the function of balancing the masses, will have a different weight in each boat based on the  tonnage of the gondolier, as well as the driving position, the oar and the forcola, will have measurements compatible with those of the height and arms of the person who will guide the boat.  The shape of the "iron" is, however, the result of a particular symbolism.  The "s" shape reproduces that of the Grand Canal, the comb with 6 prongs below the main blade, on the other hand, recalls the six districts in which the city is divided, while the three friezes that sometimes join two a  two teeth of the comb represent the three islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello.  The tooth called "stern risso" that extends towards the center of the gondola finally symbolizes the island of Giudecca.

 THE TERRITORY If Venice was once teeming with squeri, today only five keep alive the long tradition of building gondolas.  These are the two historic squeri of San Trovaso - the oldest - on the Grand Canal in the Dorsoduro district, and Tramontin, in Ognissanti, in addition to the more recent Squero Bonaldi, right next to Tramontin, Crea and Costantini - De Rossi on Giudecca.

 ADDRESSES To deepen the history of navigation and the construction of boats that has always distinguished the tradition of the beautiful Maritime Republic, the appointment is at the Arsenale of Venice, the ancient complex of shipyards and workshops that represents the heart of the industry  Venetian naval since the 12th century.  Today, partly owned by the Municipality and partly by the Navy, it is accessible in different areas (some can be visited freely, others on request and with guided tours) and houses the Institute of Maritime Military Studies and the interesting Naval History Museum with  annexed to the Ships Pavilion.

SUMMER 2021 an 8% discount on accommodation.

Accommodation must be booked by April 10, 2021 while travel must end by September 30, 2021 at the latest.

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