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Squero di San Trovaso

Squero di San Trovaso

ABOVE: A view of the squero, or gondola boatyard, from the opposite bank of the Rio di San Trovaso.

Venice has about 400 gondole in active service, and all are made by hand. A typical gondola is built from nine different types of wood and several hundred parts, including a carved oarlock called a forcola and a weighted bow ornament known as a ferro that helps to counterbalance the weight of the gondolier who rows while standing on the boat's stern.

A gondola can cost upwards of €20,000, depending on its amenities, and it needs regular maintenance to ensure a working life of several decades. Gondola construction and repairs are supplied by a handful of squeri, or boatyards, in Venice and the Venetian Lagoon.

Most of these boatyards are in locations that tourists seldom see, but the oldest and most famous yard--the Squero di San Trovaso--is in the heart of the city. You can enjoy a free view of the gondola craftsmen at work from the opposite bank of the San Trovaso Canal.

Here's a collection of photos that Cheryl took during a recent summer visit, when the squero's artisans were busy varnishing a gondola:

Gondola at Squero di San Trovaso

A freshly-painted gondola sits on the paved apron in front of the Squero di San Trovaso, facing the San Trovaso Canal.

Artisans in the San Trovaso boatyard

Inside the Alpine-style boathouse, craftsmen apply a layer of varnish to a gondola. (This photo was taken through the squero's back door, which had been left open for ventilation on a hot summer day.)

Gondola repair at Squero di San Trovaso

The telephoto lens on Cheryl's point-and-shoot camera let her get up close and personal with the artisans.

Back door of Squero di San Trovaso

If you're lucky, the squero's back door will be open when you walk through the Campo San Trovaso. (If it's closed, please don't knock--the squero is a working boatyard, not a tourist attraction.)

Where to find the Squero di San Trovaso:

The squero is next to the Campo San Trovaso and the San Trovaso Church in Dorsoduro, just inland from the Zattere waterfront promenade.

Guided tours:

The Squero di San Trovaso is a working boatyard, not a tourist attraction, but it does offer 30-minute guided tours to organizations and individuals by special arrangement.

For more information on visits to the Squero di San Trovaso, click here.

Related articles:

Gondolas and Gondola Rides
Our article tells how to hire a gondola and what you can expect to pay. It also has links to other resources for gondola buffs.

Gondola Serenade Tour
If you want music with your ride, join a tour. (Typically, a tour consists of several gondolas that are accompanied by a singer and one or two musicians.)

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden has written about Venice, Italy since 1996. He covered Venice and European travel at for 4-1/2 years before launching Europe for Visitors (including Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl Imboden in 2001.

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