Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Amazing Fully-Varnished Boat

I saw a lot of amazing things during Regata Storica in 2005.
Some of the boats in Venice seem to only hit the water for that one day of the year.
Many are dressed up or have people on board in extreme costumes. Of course there are the ubiquitous gondolas- most with paying passengers, some with friends and family of the gondolier.
But from my spot on a very long boat, I also saw private boats, one of them caught my eye when I happened to have a camera handy. To my surprise, one of the passengers was Saverio Pastor.
When I was contemplating the best way to introduce this post, I considered asking the question: "What kind of boat does the world-renowned remer of Venice, Saverio Pastor like to travel around in?" It seems to me that someone like Saverio would be able to choose his ride, and if that's the case, it looks like he chose well. I'm not absolutely sure, but I believe the boat is a modern version of the old "gondola da fresco" which was popular back in the days of nobility.
Some resembled gondolas more than others. I've seen photos of them with and without the signature ferro.
Nereo Zane took a few good shots of one in my post of August 12th.

With a gondola da fresco,
owners would enjoy an afternoon cruise in their boat while their rowing employees would chauffeur them around. It was all about "seeing and being seen".
These boats were a bit smaller and lighter than a gondola but often had the same parecio.
If you take a close look you'll see a main seat, or "divan" like the one on a gondola. Brass horses, or "cavalli" adorn both rails of the vessel about midship, and they are mounted on miniature versions of the arm-pieces seen on gondolas known as "pusioli". Because this is not a passenger-for-hire boat, the owner can choose whatever paint scheme he or she wants. And of course nothing is more striking (and difficult to maintain) than a fully varnished boat.
Frequent Gondola Blog readers will know that I'm a sucker for varnish. The parecio is done in a unique color as well: it's a light blue that arrives on the color-wheel in the lighter end of turquoise. The seat is fringed in it, as are the pusioli. The cavalli even have pom-poms of the same light turquoise hue. The tapeto (gondolier's carpet) seems to be a close match as well. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the same color can be found on the "pagioi" (that's a fancy venetian word for floor boards). It is common for gondoliers to match their sashes or hat ribbons with the color of the pagioi. I suspect that's why these two vogatori are wearing light blue sashes. It's not an exact match, but I applaud them for getting closer than I probably could have. One would expect that if Saverio Pastor was riding in a boat, the forcole would be of excellent quality, and these two pieces certainly don't disappoint. The forward forcola has a generous sanca (elbow) sticking out, and the forcola da poppa has two morsos. This is most often seen on boats that are frequently rowed both "laden and light" - that is to say, half the time the boat is heavy, full of passengers or freight, while the other half it's empty and floats higher in the water. Having two morsi allows the gondolier in the back to adjust his oar placement accordingly. One last comment on those forcole: They are not lightweight fare. They look like they could withstand a lot more than they'll ever need to on a boat such as this.
think Saverio carved them?
Several questions still linger: - Who owns the boat? Is it Saverio's private vessel or does it belong to modern Venetian nobility? They still exist, you just have to look for them.
- What's it like to row such a gem as this?
- How old is she? She's certainly well-kept. No, I did not Photo-Shop the sun's reflection on that stainless steel rubrail.
and, of course,
- Where can I get one?!


Bob Easton said...

For those who have not met him, or don't recognize him, Saverio is the passenger in the red shirt.

Gondola Greg said...

Thanks Bob.
I KNEW there was SOMETHING I'd forgotten to cover.
I completed this post very late at night.

I should also have included a link to Saverio's website:

John Synco took some good photos in Saverio's shop - they are featured in my post from June 16th, 2008.