Wednesday, March 5, 2008

five fingered ferro

If you ask most gondoliers about the shape of the ferro (that ornate piece of metal at the front of the gondola), you'll hear about the various symbolisms associated with different parts of the ferro as they relate to parts of Venetian life and geography. It's all pretty neat stuff, and some may be true, although when gondoliers talk with other gondoliers, they'll often laugh about how those stories are either made-up, or came about long after the ferro gained its shape. One of the standard symbolisms revolves around the "fingers" or "teeth" - six facing forward and one facing aft. It is said that the six in front represent the six districts, or "sestieri" of Venice, while the one facing aft symbolizes the Giudecca ( a series of islands that contour one side of Venice).
Some gondoliers, when presented with this photo, have remarked that up until a certain time, two of Venice’s sestieri were viewed as one – making it five instead of six. I’ve heard this theory more than once, and it hasn’t always been the same two sestieri.
I’m not posting this photo to stir things up, or even to offer my own theory on the “five-fingered ferro”.
I just liked the photo and found it unique and post-worthy.
For the record, it comes from a postcard, with the only information being that the photo was taken at Rio S. M. Formosa.

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