The Gondola
and its history
1 The gondola building
2 The smaller shipbuilding activity in Venice
3 The handycraft and the gondola
4 Lines of Venetian history
the Gondola
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Capitolo 1 The gondola building

1 - Where gondole were born
pag.  1 2 3 4 5 

the launch of a gondola from a squero (seen by Canaletto)

The gondola is a "unique" and fascinating boat. Its components bring still today so particular names that they sound fairy and misterious. The gondola could be born only in one place with a secret charm: the "squèro". The squero is a sort of shipyard for the building of crafts. Its name seems to come from the Greek "eskarion"(= shipyard, small port for the launch); some scholar of Venetian things would make it come from "squara", the instrument used by carpenters. But if the etymon is rather uncertain, one thing is certain: in a Venice born on a network of islands and canals, the art of building boats was vital and the "squeri" scattered the city like the ganglions of a lymphatic system.
There were squeri of different dimensions: from the smallest for the building or the simple reparation of small boats, to the biggest ones, where they could take shape boats of a certain tonnage or even ships( the ship squeri), till that huge "State Squero" that was the Arsenal, active in Venice from the twelfth century. In the map of Venice attributed to Jacopo de' Barbari of 1500, we can see precisely details of many squeri. In the particular aside we can see 2 squeri of St. Moise' area. We have coloured in brown the covered structures, the socalled "tese", and in yellow the external space sloping to the canal. A characteristic of all the squeri is, in fact, the presence of the square inclined to the canal.

the Register of the "arte de Squeraroli" of 1734

From the half of the fourteenth century , the Venetian government began to penalize the "squeraroli" (the entrepreneurs and workers of the squeri) to the advantage of the "state" employees of the Arsenal (the "arsenalotti"), real specialized workers: Marangoni(= carpenters), Calafati, Remeri. In 1607, anyway, it was allowed them to meet in School ( that is, as in Venetian use, in a real "category association"). The oppressive politics of Venetian government aimed to maintain the total control on the ship production, an element of greatest vital interest for Serenissima, and finished making the squeraroli specialized in the building of boats lagoon- Adriatic: "burci" (= burchi), "bragozzi", "peate", (= chiatte), gondole, etc.
 Nowadays there are few squeri that survive to the city decadence, earlier, and to the technological impact later (see "THE MINOR ship BUILDING ACTIVITY IN VENICE"). We have got some , however, that continue to produce the traditional lagoon-crafts and a small group that builds gondole.

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