In order to navigate in a straight line the Gondola must be unbalanced: 33 feet long, almost 5 feet wide at the center, and weighing 4 quintals. It is piloted by a single gondolier thanks indeed to its asymmetrical line.
The oarsman, besides steering it forward, must also control the lateral movement. With the left side more than 9 inches longer than the right side, the craft floats leaning
to one side and becomes maneuverable only when the pilot is on board, balancing the thrust of the single oar that would tend to make it move toward the left.
The only metallic elements are the “ferro” (the word means iron) at the bow and the “risso” a curled ornament at the stern. It is shaped like a comb , with six teeth recalling the city’s six districts, while a solitary one, turned in the opposite direction, refers to Giudecca.
The forcola is a type of rowlock used in the voga veneta, the typical Venetian rowing style.
After centuries of experimentation, it has finally reached its optimal shape: every curve, corner, inclination has a precise function during the rowing motion.
On Venetian boats, the oar is usually rested on the morso (the bit), which allows different motions with the oar, whose point of contact on the morso changes depending on the type of manoeuvre the rower wishes the boat to make.
The gondola’s forcola is one of the most complex and complete, allowing up to 8 different rowing positions.
The design of the forcola depends on the use of precise shapes and profiles which vary according to the type of boat and to the rowing style.
Forcole are made of wood, and the remeri (expert craftsmen of forcole and oars) must assure that the final product has the perfect hardness and elasticity, and the types of wood used most are
walnut, pear and cherry wood.
A forcola should ideally be extracted from a single log (the more precious and rare pieces being reserved for gondolas), but it is not uncommon to see attachments of different pieces with the adeguate veining.
This tour will lead you to discover one of the most interesting areas of Venice: Dorsoduro, where past and present of Venice meet. This area have been for centuries the heart of gondolas artesanal production.
Your visit will start at the famous Accademia Bridge, the only woodden bridge in Venice. You will then walk towards San Trovaso church, one of the oldest in Venice. The building, that was there since the foundation of the city, is characterized by a double façade, a double entrance that allowed the two rival families of the area to enter the church from different doors.
Next stop will be the old San Trovaso Squero (workshop). Squero comes from Squara a team of people working together to create a boat. This lab is famous for its construction, as it looks exactly like a mountain house as its founders (as well as the wood) came from the Dolomiti Area.
You will then move on towards the Squero Tramontin where you will visit the workshop and learn all the secrets of this art directly from the words of the master artisans. You will discover for example that each gondola is built according to the weight of its gondoliers and that all measures are taken not in meters but in “venetian feet” used since 1400.
The tour will end with a walk on the Zattere, Venice sunny promenade with is fantastic views on the Giudecca island.
An interesting travel into the secrets of the boat known as a symbol of Venice all over the world.