Someone, in the ancient Squero of San Trovaso, should hang a plaque with a quotation from John Ruskin’s essay “The Stones of Venice”: “When we build, let us think that we build for ever”.
Indeed gondolas have been built in this shipyard – the word ‘squero’ is likely derived from the Venetian ‘squara’, the square ruler used by shipwrights – at least since the 17th century. This is one of the very few still active ‘squeri’. Here, if not “for ever”, it is fair to imagine working for something that will last for a very long time in the future…
The small arsenal – specialized in rowing boats, mostly for private use – is built on an incline slanted towards the ‘rio’ or canal, making it easier to launch boats or take them out of the water.
In San Trovaso, expert craftsmen still make gondolas by hand – and “by arm”, considering there are no winches to move the incomplete crafts around – assembling 280 parts made of eight different types of wood, without any written blueprint to follow, just like their predecessors used to work over a century ago.
The ancient Squero is inside a building that looks like a typical mountain house – a unique sight in the city on the lagoon, due to the fact that many shipwrights came from the Alpine region.
Each gondola requires at least one year of work. But one cannot be rushed, when working “for ever”.