Venice bricola: What is that mysterious wooden pole?


Last Updated on October 16, 2019 by Laura Teso

What is a Venice bricola? If you have visited Venice or other towns in the Veneto region (of course you can find them in other Italian areas as well but I blog about Veneto, so… to blog is also a verb, right? I don’t know, actually. Let’s pretend it is and go on…), you may have noticed the bricole. The bricole are structures formed of two or three wooden poles that you can spot in the water of the lagoon and the canals.

Many people think (once I thought so too) that they serve as a docking point for boats, but no. They are indications. They signal to the boats the limits of a navigable channel, so that the boats do not end up in low water and run ashore.

Bricole in Padua after a storm
Bricole in Padua after a storm

Facts about the Venice bricola

Did you know that…

    • Some sources testify that there were laws regarding bricole already in 1400. For the most part they are still valid. The main difference is that nowadays lights or reflectors are sometimes applied on the bricole to ease the navigation in bad light or at night.
    • It seems that throughout the lagoon of Venice their number amount to 90.000.
    • The most used wood to build a Venice bricola is oak.
    • They must be replaced when the wood begins to deteriorate (in approximately 5-10 years).
    • In order to protect the environment the wood comes from European forests (particularly from Germany, France, Balkan area and Northern Europe) certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes).
    • The bricole no longer used in the channels are retrieved from companies that process the wood to create flooring, furniture and décor objects, which are not only precious but also rich in meaning.

The single poles, often coloured, are called paline and these are actually used for docking. I’m happy to say that one of my readers used this post as a base for his graduation project about Venice.

Paline in Noventa Padovana
Paline in Noventa Padovana

Once there was a magistrate in charge of giving the authorization for the installation of new poles. The magistrate was very scrupulous, in order to protect the hydro-geological Venetian environment.

Paline in Venice
Paline in Venice

As for me, I love bricole and paline! I think they add a touch of romance to the landscape, don’t you think?

I found many info on the site of a company which process wood (even using the Venice bricola)

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