The squeri and boats of the lagoon

Knowing and experiencing the city of Venice also means investigating and deepening what are the unique characteristics of a truly unconventional place. A different world, compared to the beauties of Italy and Europe, where we find architecture built on water, around hundreds of islands where bridges, canals and canals help to make the Venetian aesthetics truly "out of the ordinary". Already in earlier times the uniqueness of Venice was perceived, but if there is one thing that has remained intact in the contemporary age is the nautical tradition, both in terms of the squeri and the splendid boats that have sailed the waters of the lagoon.

The Venetian squero. A place where tradition defies time

When you happen to walk through the sestieri of the city, you may notice some suggestive architecture such as the squeri.

But what are we talking about? They are nothing but the ancient shipyards where all the famous Venetian boats were built and repaired. This term could refer to the word "squara" (team), a fundamental tool that the so-called Axe Masters used for their work, or it is easy to approach the use of the term to a "team of people" who operate in unison in the manufacture of gondolas, pupparini, sandoli and other small treasures of rowing navigation. Initially this word was used to indicate only for the physical place in which the construction, maintenance and shelter of the means of transport both rowing and sailing. Subsequently instead it was used only for the smaller boats among those most common to the Venetian nautical tradition.

At the time of the Republic of Venice (we are talking about the period between 697 and 1797) they were widespread throughout the urban area, but over time, especially due to the drastic reduction of rowing boats in favor of modern ones, this type of place has become increasingly rare in the city.

Today it is possible to find six ancient squeri, of these, we find three only in Dorsoduro, in the south of the city: squero Tramontin, squero Bonaldo, squero di S.Trovaso, with the latter owned by the Municipality of Venice. It is a very important squero, and it is possible to visit it with the help of specialized guides.

Two other squeri are located in Giudecca: squero Crea, probably the only one to deliver the gondolas complete with all the ancient accessories and decorations of the maritime tradition, and the squero Costantini-Dei Rossi, faithful to the classicism typical of the squero.

The last squero is located in Castello: squero San Giuseppe, owned by the company of mutual aid between carpenters and calfati.

From the structural point of view these architectures are characterized by a plan towards the canal for the dry dock (practically the "Parking" for the winter) and the launching of the boats. Behind the floor, fenced on two sides, instead, there is the launching floor, also called tense, which is the heart of the building, which properly represents both the work area and the storage of tools. If you are around Venice, do not forget to take a tour of these authentic rarities.


In the waters of the lagoon. The historical boats of venice

For all those who hastily visit Venice, it may seem that all the rowing boats that pass through the canals are gondolas, of course, this is a misconception. However, it must be said that all the boats in the lagoon have been gradually modified over time. Each of them is able to adapt perfectly to its use, as in a sort of evolutionary cycle, so much so that we can observe that in reality no two boats are perfectly equal. 

We can however identify different "families" of rowing boats according to their shape, size and specificity of use. All these boats are characterized by a flat bottom that allows them to move easily in all corners of the lagoon. For this purpose the most suitable ones are, in addition to the gondola of course, all those of the family of sandoli, the sanpierote, for trips in the rivers the burci, for cruises at a wider range.

Let's start from the small s'ciopon of only five meters, widely used for hunting and fishing in the lagoon and go through the much larger trabacolo that reaches 25 meters, typical of the Adriatic Sea.  

Very interesting is the regatta Gondolino, a boat that has to speed up the powerful thrust of the strongest rowers during the regattas and in the famous Historical Regatta. It is a light and low boat with a tapered shape for perfect dynamics in the water.

The Sandolo buranello is much smaller and compact compared to the Gondola, with the back that closes in a rounded shape. It houses two rowers who can row with their feet on the bottom of the boat.

The Pupparin de Casada is very elegant in its tapered shape. This boat has two seats on a bench with backrest just below the stern rower, and is quite common in the lagoon.

The Batela Buranela is a transport boat, which originates in the island of Burano to meet the need to transport both fish, coming from the open sea, and vegetables from nearby Sant'Erasmo and Vignole, historically dedicated to agriculture.

Also the Batela coa de gambaro is a transport boat, but larger and capacious, able to withstand even in open sea. There is also a similar one, but used in the city with a less rough and more slender shape.

The Topeto Venezian instead, is a transport boat, often used for small loads or for moving. To sail in the lagoon can be equipped with mast and sail.

The Topo Ciosoto is also a transport boat, but also used, in the past times, for fishing. Famous are the colorful sails of the Cioosote Mice that adorn these incredible boats.

The Sampierota is a small transport boat, originally from San Piero in Volta, a town located in the thin islands south of Venice. Still very appreciated and used, it lends itself, if equipped with a mast, to sailing.

The Caorlina is the typical transport boat for the fruit and vegetables produced in the various parts of the Lagoon. The latter is originally from Caorle, a town on the coast, north of Venice on the Adriatic Sea. It is a large transport boat in inland waters or not far from the coast. It is equipped with a large hold that also allows a small shelter for the rest of the crew members.

Knowing and recognizing all these differences and peculiarities, helps to protect and hand down this heritage of information and culture as well as the purely maritime one. The true soul of Venice lies also in this.