Venice and its Squeri: what are they and where to find them?

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Venice has many little, big peculiarities that make it unique and impossible to replicate. The beauty is in fact uncovering the many artisan businesses that operate as they did centuries ago. The squeri without a doubt fall in this category.

Squeri are small shipyards where expert artisans handcraft and repair wooden boats of the lagoon. These “sacred” areas are where the last masters that can be easily counted on your fingers- transmit the ancient art of constructing gondolas and other typical vessels of the lagoon, such as sandoli, sanpierote, caroline, topi, and cofani.

By rule the traditional squeri are built on a strip of trodden land with a gradual declination to facilitate access to water, while the construction of the boats are done inside the teza or hangar dedicated to the master artisan’s residence.

Here are four Squeri worth visting:

Squero San Trovaso in Dorsoduro 1097

Along the Rio of San Trovaso is a squero from before the 1600’s. The building that hosts it reminds you of a Alpine Chalet from the mountains: to consider is that both the carpenters and wood used came from the Cadore; The inclination of the front square and the awning that covers it were useful in case of rain; as well as being a good place to deposit work tools.

Squero Domenico Tramontin & Figli in Dorsoduro 1542

Among the gondola builders still in activity that can boast centuries of history there is the Tramontin family that has been manufacturing gondolas since 1884. There are many curiosities to be uncovered including blades, metallic decorative parts, forcole (fulcrum), and other objects pertaining to illustrious owners, including the Royal Family Savoia.

Squero Crea Giudecca 212

The owner is Gianfranco Vianello, aka Crea, Champion Rower.  His sqero is the only one that delivers a gondola complete with all its accessories including oars and fulcrums.

Squero Dei Rossi Roberto Giudecca, 866/A.

Although it is young (since 1983) it rigorously respects the classic characteristics of a squero. It is one of the few that apart from constructing gondolas, it also builds and repairs traditional oars and oars from other vessels. 

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