Monday, May 11, 2009


A short video clip about the gondola is the latest from Giacomo de Stefano.

Tourism keeps an ancient craft alive.

Gondolas are hand made using eight different types of wood (fir, oak, cherry, walnut, elm, mahogany, larch and lime).
The oars are made of beech wood.

The port side of the gondola is made longer than the starboard. This asymmetry causes the gondola to resist the tendency to turn toward port on the forward stroke.

The Venician boat builder/historian Gilberto Penzo says this of the traditional boats of his home province:

"For the vast majority of tourists who spend just a few hours in Venice, all the boats in the canals are gondolas. In actual fact there are at least a hundred types of boat each of which were developed to respond to a specific need."

"The salient characteristics of these boats are: the flat bottom that enables the boat to reach the furthest recesses of the lagoon, the rowing style 'alla veneta' where the oarsman faces forwards and uses the characteristic rowlocks (forcole); the large rudder that also functions as a keel fin and which can be adjusted to adapt to the depth of water available, and the lugsails and rigging. Another characteristic shared by all types of Venetian boats, even those used for the humblest task, is their extraordinary elegance."

It is this elegance that draws me to these historical boats. Every one is a unique work of art, even though design parameters are faithfully reproduced. Function, utility, science, philosophy and art meet on the canals and in the lagoon of the ancient society of Venice.

There's more! Much more....


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for publishing this video.
It is the first that I made in 2005.

Grande Michael, you are helping me so much to promote the Venetian boatbuilding tradition.
Very happy

doryman said...

The boats of Venice speak to me. I want to know all about the Sanpierota, especially.

By the way, I saw Stefano's video post of the voyage of "give me five".
Very inspiring!

Unknown said...

Yes, he is a super person, super skipper.
About Sanpierotta... I will come to NY 400with a a very nice Sanpierotta. As soon as possible I will send you some pictures.
Here there are many books but most of them are in Italian.
See he is a great historian and model builder of Venetian boats.

Take care

doryman said...

I can see why you choose the Ness Yawl for your voyage on the Po River. It has a similar look and feel of the traditional boats of your home.

Yet another example of how the oceans are the thread that binds us together.