The Venetian squero, the place in which gondolas are built


The squero [SKWEH-roh] is the typical site for the construction and restoration of boats. Nowadays there are only a few left. Many squeri (plural of squero) were along the major waterways (only in Venice there were hundreds). Each of them had a scalo, an inclined plane that connected the mainland to water. Behind the scalo there was a wooden construction. The owner usually lived on the first floor of the building. On the ground floor there was the workshop, called tesa.

The etymology of the name could come from the dialectal word squera (square ruler), an essential working tool for carpenters, or from the Greek eskárion, building site. Building a gondola requires hundreds of hours of work. Each one should be unique, customised for the gondolier, for his weight and height. As far as I gathered only Squero Tramontin still operates this way. Even today the work in this squero is made without preparatory drawings, only based on personal knowledge and experience. The average life of a gondola is about 30 years.

Currently in Venice only 5 proper squeri  survive and still work:

  • Dorsoduro: San Trovaso and Tramontin
  • Giudecca Isle: Crea and Costantini-Dei Rossi
  • Castello: San Giuseppe
Squero San Trovaso front
Squero San Trovaso front

Squero of San Trovaso

I went to see the Squero of San Trovaso (that dates back to 1600) on the same day I visited the Galleries of the Accademia, because it’s quite near. If you want to read more about my visit, here is my post about the Accademia Galleries. Seeing it is somehow weird. In a good way. It is a corner of an ancient world lost in the city, in total contrast to the the palaces all around it.

The simple wooden building has the typical aspect of mountain houses, because both the carpenters and the wood came from the Cadore area, in the Venetian Dolomites. I read on their website that visits are possible for groups of at least 25 people, from Monday to Friday. I looked at only from the outside and I took some pictures. Nothing more, unfortunately. I hope to go and visit one day.

Squero detail
Squero detail

Squero San Trovaso
Dorsoduro 1097 – Venice
+39 041 522 9146

Tramontin Tramontin & Figli, Dorsoduro 1542 – Venice

Giudecca 212 – Venice
041 5231798

Costantini Dei Rossi
Giudecca 866/A – Venice
041 5223614

Squero di San Giuseppe
Castello 625/A – Venice
041 5203678