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A Gondola’s Features


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”

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 adequate veining.

Discover the creation of the forcola with a Gondola’s craftsman with € 65, click here!

Admire the wonderful view of the lagoon with 18 tours starting from 33,  click here!