The Squeraroli - The History of The Gondolas and The Squeri

The History of The Gondolas' Builders

There are only a few Squeraroli left in Venice but those that are still active today operate just like their ancestors did centuries ago in the Squeri. The Squeraroli are the owners and workers of the Squeri, the original shipyards where the artisan activity continues today with building the famous Venetian Gondolas, the black rowing boats found in the Adriatic Lagoon.

“ And always somewhere on the Grand Canal, drifting pleasantly with the tide, struggling loftily into the lagoon, tossing at a post or protruding its aristocratic beak between a pair of palaces, there stands a high-prowed, lop sides, black painted, brass embellished gondola, the very soul and symbol of Venice“ - Jan Morris – ‘Venice’

The Squeri are small shipyards found in the Historic City Center where the art of building and repairing gondolas together with other typical Venetian boats such as the Sandoli and the legendary Sanpierote is kept alive today.

Back in the day, there were Squeri of different sizes. The smallest ones where gondolas and other typical small Venetian boats were repaired, and larger ones where the actual construction took place. These bigger ones were usually found around today's Arsenale neighborhood where the original Arsenale Shipyard has been active since the 12th century.

A typical part of all the Squeri is the outside area featuring a ramp that slopes towards the canal used to launch the boats. The indoor space is called Teza, this is where the actual repairs are made, and it's comprised of one or two joint wooden sheds. Back in the day, the upper part of the shed was used by the Squerarioli as their dwelling.

Among the most historical, and visited ones, we have the "Squero di San Trovaso" and "The Squero Tramontin & Figli" in the neighborhood of Dorsoduro.  

Map - Squeri in Venice - Squero di San Trovaso and Squero Tramontin