This is not about a modern-day craftsman you would meet in Venice at the Squero San Trovaso, nor the Squero Tramontin, but rather one you will meet in the pages of the historical novel written by Laura Morelli. When I was invited by Laura Fabiani to review this book for italybooktours, I was happy to oblige, since I had recently read the book and had enjoyed it.
Set in 16th century Venice, we follow the travails of Luca Vianello, whose destiny had been to become the owner of the family squero in Cannaregio, where gondolas were made and repaired.
But, the death of his beloved mother, a bitter fight with his father and a tragic accident at the squero leads to Luca fleeing from home, and puts him on the path to an entirely different life.
After a period of what we today might call rough living, he lands a job as boatman to the painter/ artist Trevisan. (The descriptions of the conditions under which many people would have living in this period of history had me squirming!)
During this time, two significant things happen which will determine his future. In the boat house of his employer, he discovers the wreck of a gondola that had been made by his grandfather, and he is smitten by the lovely Giuliana Zanchi, who is posing for a portrait. His infatuation and developing friendship with Giuliana causes him to take some rather foolhardy risks. I guess this is what being a hero requires!
The descriptions of life in Venice at this time in history, and the insights into the skills involved in the making of gondolas and their equipment, are a bonus for anyone interested in this era.
The story moves along at a good pace, the protagonist is a likeable person whom you would want to succeed. I was satisfied with the manner in which the story ended, and wouldn’t object to a sequel, if that’s on the cards. So, you may deduce that I have no hesitation in recommending this well researched novel.
About the author: