A welcome invitation

December 6 is the Festa of San Nicolas.  I walked to the Chiesa San Nicolo dei Mendicoli, in  Dorsoduro, to determine whether there would be any special recognition of the occasion, and found  there would be a special mass that evening.

I kept walking in the warm sunshine, and stopped on a bridge to take photos of this special place.

It is one of the few remaining squeri (boat building/repairing yards) in Venice, the Squero Tramontin. It has been a family enterprise for more than 125 years.

Then, an unexpected thing happened. A gentleman came out of the door of the workshop. I smiled and waved, and he called out to ask if I wanted to come and see what they were doing. Would I? Is water wet? What a privilege was being offered.

Here is the beginning of what will be an elegant gondola.

This shows how they create the shape of the bow of the gondola.

The timber is shaped into curves by the application of heat from a blow torch. How do they do that without creating a bonfire?

On the other side of the workshop, they are building a sandola.

The bow of a sandolo has quite a different shape, compared to a gondola. 

There were not many high-tech tools in use here.

Tools of the trade

Under the plastic is a felze, a cabin that used in the past on gondole, to protect the passengers from the elements, and from prying eyes! They are no longer in use, this one is for sale, for several thousand euro.

Here is my host, at work on the gondola.

The boss at work

Their little mascots?

The very nondescript street door that leads to this home of such wonderful craftsmen. May the craft live many more years.

If you want to read more about this squero, please follow this link, it makes interesting reading:




Filed under Venice

28 responses to “A welcome invitation

  1. Steven

    Love the pics and the account & so happy that I got to experience it, too, at least at second hand!


  2. It really was an unexpected gift, on an already beautiful day, Pat.


  3. Pat

    Yvonne, what a great experience — you lucky woman you!


  4. A wonderful visit, thank you Yvonne!! One of those moments we love : )
    Good night!


  5. sandrac

    Very cool, and great photos!


  6. Rob C

    You lucky $%$%£$% 🙂

    Seriously though, keep up with these ‘behind the scenes’ visits, maybe you’ll be able to build a big enough network of ‘Real Venetians’ to allow you to become a ‘bespoke tour guide’.


  7. Andrew

    You lucky girl. Must be the Aussie charm.


  8. julie

    What a lovely opportunity Yvonne … great pictures ..a nd memories for a lifetime xx


  9. christy

    Don’t you just love Venice! That was a great opportunity and treat, Yvonne!


    • Yes, Venice is a continuing delight, Christy. I tried to get back from Mestre on time to hear Ska-J, but missed them, darn it. Were they good? See you.


      • christy

        Pretty good, even for my old ears.

        By the way, we got in the marble place on Stada Nova yesterday and met all three artisans – father and both sons. They, too, were very gracious but unfortunately for us, we don’t speak Italian and they don’t speak English. Wish we can take home some of their sculptures.


  10. Yvonne, Great post. It’s such a treat to see pictures of the Tramontin at work. They are a Venetian classic.


  11. Michelle

    Indeed it was your lucky day. This brought tears to my eyes.
    Wonderful pictures!


  12. OMG were you ever lucky today!


  13. Barb

    Yvonne, Could you please return to Venice in April and walk around with me for 2 weeks? You’re having the most wonderful experiences!


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