The dark and asymmetrical form of the gondola begins...
...in the “cantiér”, where the construction in laborious and complex and follows a precise sequence: the caulking, the application of pitch to the bottom, the blacksmiths’ insertions of the bow and stern “ferri”, the work of engravers, the finishing and the painting. The “Squeraiòli” were often descendants of families who had worked at the trade for generations. They were part of the “marangòni da nave” (naval carpenters); these were divided into “squerariòli da grosso” (medium and large tonnage) and “squerariòli da sotìl” (boats with flat bottoms such as the gondola). They formed their independent guild in 1610.
Inside a “squero”, you can probably still find the “passèto”, which is an ancient length measure used in Venice, corresponding to 104,4 cm, subdivided in 3 Venetian feet. It’s still used, because it’s the only measure that gives the opportunity to built gondolas of different sizes (the size of the gondola depends on the weight of the gondolier), without decimals.
These images show us the equally fascinating, adventurous task of the men who build the boats, the master “squerariòli” whose daily work keeps alive and afloat an ancient art, imitated by many and emulated by no-one.
It seems that the word “squero” came from “squara” (team) instrument of the shipwrights or could suggest a team of people working together to build boats.
Nowadays in Venice there are 4 workshops for the construction of the gondola, 2 in the Giudecca island and 2 in the district of Dorsoduro.