The sign on the door reads “Vietato L’accesso” One of the two remaining boatyards in Venice is closed to the public, but a chance opportunity shed new light on an old tradition.
Is a gondola a gimick reserved for tourists or is it a piece of cultural heritage, kept alive so that future generations will never forget that Venice was built on water? Everyone seems to have a different take, but whether they are loved or abhorred, gondolas still slide up and down the canals each day.
On the back waters of Duorsoduro, Squero di San Trovaso is protected from the the rough water, heavy foot traffic, and prying eyes of any unscheduled visit. This is where gondolas are born and go to be repaired.
Disguised beneath a coat of black paint, gondolas are complex asumentrical boats, hand made from over two hundred individual pieces of wood, in eight different species. The paint unifies the design into a single form.
The Venetians have a particular fondness of trees. Ironic for a city of stone and water. The trees are all hidden. Venice sits on a pad of a few million logs driven into the silt. Every foundation in Venice is supported by a network of tree trunks, shaprened to a point. These trees distribute the weight of the buildings so the city does not crumble to the ground. Wood keeps Venice floating and moving through the water.