We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Christening a new gondola... Roberto's Varo

I've been waiting almost a year for this event- the launching of our friend Roberto's brand new gondola. I think I'm almost as excited as he is- no, not quite! But I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to share in the process. It's been like anticipating the birth of a new baby, watching the slow progress of the new boat over many months, as it transforms from just a pile of pieces of wood, to the stunning sleek gondola that sits waiting to be launched.

At the squero of San Trovaso in Dorsoduro, new gondolas are meticulously made by hand.



Below is the very first photo of La Maria II, Roberto's gondola. Now fast forward about 9 months .....

and here she is, waiting in the boatyard on the day of the Varo (launching). Family and friends are invited to share in the happy event. The boat is on display, everyone admires the workmanship of the boatmakers, and anticipates the moment La Maria II will slip quietly into the water.



The gondolier chooses the many elements of the boat, from the design of all the carvings to the fabrics used for the furniture. Here is the backpiece of the seat, a carving of Roberto's family crest.



Here the same crest is used on the front piece.



The fancy gold horses ....



the fero (metal ornamental piece on the front of the gondola),....




the fancy hood ornament,...



and the forcula (oarlock).







A bottle of Prosecco is tied to the back of the gondola, it's almost time....


But first.. food! Roberto has arranged a huge spread of delious food from Antico Pignolo- including traditional Venetian dishes of Baccala, Bigoli in Salsa, Sopresso and Pane, tramezzinos, and delicious deserts from Rosa Salva. And, lots of wine and Prosecco, of course.




At last, the moment we've been waiting for! The workers at the squero prepare the gondola to be slid into the water, placing rollers under the bow, and away she goes!



Roberto hops onto the back and takes her on her maiden voyage down the canal, testing out how she handles.


Family and friends in the squero cheering him on.

Roberto and his family all get in the boat, and he takes them off down the canals to St. Mark's square, which will be this gondola's new home. Mike and I also made our way to St. Mark's so we could greet them when they arrived. What a great day this has been. Another unique Venetian experience for me, one I realize may be truly a once in a lifetime event. To be able to watch the evolution of a gondola from start to finish has just added to my love of Venice, and all things Venetian. To be present at the time of the launch, and share in that celebration with the family- I'm not sure I have words for how honored I feel.

As we waited for Roberto and Marie to arrive back at ST. Mark's, my husband Mike caught this shot - it's the perfect image to end this blog. Ciao, tutti.














































































































































































10 comments:

Fabrizio said...

What a great moment you could experience! I'm a little envious :P
Thanks for sharing your feelings and pictures!

karen said...

Grazie, Fabrizio!

Anonymous said...

Karen,
I just got a chance to check in with your blog. What a wonderful experience! I agree with Yvonne who just emailed that it brought tears to her eyes. Mine too!
I'm just imagining that this is the gondola I watched them working on from across the canal when I was there in March.
Ciao,
Michelle

Dianne said...

I saw the Squero on my visit in May 2009. I am envious that you had a chance to actually see a gondola built there. Perhaps when we are in Venice in October (and if I can cajol my husband to do it) we can ride in your friend's gondola to celebrate our 40th anniversary (a bit over a year late).

karen said...

Diane, I know how lucky I was. Let me know when you are here, perhaps we can arrange that ride!

IowaDoc said...

The gondola is just beautiful. I can't wait to arrive Sunday--maybe we'll be able to locate him and ride on that piece of art.

IowaDoc said...

The gondola is just beautiful. I can't wait to arrive Sunday--maybe we'll be able to locate him and ride on that piece of art.

karen said...

IowaDoc- To me, every gondola is a work of art, and a ride in one is magical! So, don't worry about finding this exact boat, just be sure you save time to take a gondola ride. Any one will do. Enjoy!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen, just checking out your blog; heard you had photos of Roberto's gondola/varo posted. They look lovely, and bring back wonderful thoughts of a lovely day with family and friends in May. More so, I'm glad to see your bloggers appreciate the fine workmanship (and I must say Robert's good taste) in building this historical vessel. But I need to add, not all gondolas are the same, even the artisans say this one came out extremely well! So since you posted photos of Roberto's boat your bloggers might like to know that this gondola "Maria" is in St. Mark's square :) A presto, Marie

karen said...

Marie, I stand corrected, and you are so right, there is none so fine as La Maria!!!! She is la piu bella!