Tuesday, November 6, 2007

One-of-a-kind gondola

Several years ago I met Giovanni Guidice and Davide Scarpa while surfing around on the internet. They were rowing at the Santa Maria del Giglio traghetto/servizio. As is the case quite often with such friendships, we swapped stories, jokes, and photos. One day, back in 2001, I received some great photos from Giovanni – the subject: Davide’s new gondola. This was a special boat; she was his first new gondola, commissioned by Davide and built at Cantieri Crea. For a Venetian gondolier, his first new gondola is a milestone. I’ve seen a lot of gondolas over the years; many different colors and combinations stand out in my memory. I still haven’t seen this gondola first-hand, but she still stands out - based on the photos alone.
Davide took an approach which was unconventional but still looked classic.
Seats were upholstered in light gray with charcoal trim.
All rub-rail trim was done in stainless steel rather than brass.
And while most gondolas have brass cavalla (seahorses), Davide’s cavalli and other foundry-work appears to have been nickel plated.
All of the above factors make for a boat which is almost completely “gray-scaled”, as if the gondola where in a black-and-white photo.
This gives the varnished wood a real opportunity to shine. The banchette (little benches), chair, floorboards, and even some interior surfaces were finished in clear varnish. Add a freshly oiled forcola to that and you’ve got wood that projects a level of warmth not usually seen on a gondola.
I finally met up with Giovanni last year in Venice. It was fun to talk face-to-face for the first time after all the e-mails. I still haven’t met Davide in-person, but when I do, I want to see that gondola.

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