Walking through the yard at Venice's most well-known squero,
I came upon this arm piece. These things come in pairs - one on each side of the passenger area. Often they are only held in place by the cavalli, which mount to the boat by way of a long rod that fits through each arm piece in the front.
There are many styles of pusioli.
This one looks like it may have come in on the rails of a wedding gondola, or one that's got some luxury appointments.
So while the gondola was being worked on, so was the arm piece, on little saw horses that look like they've probably got some stories of their own to tell.
As far as I can tell, pusioli are purely aesthetic.
Apart from providing a minor level of protection from crosswinds, these arm pieces seem to only be there to dress up the gondola. But they sure do that job well.
Often these and other parecio pieces will continue to dress gondola after gondola, living longer than the twenty to twenty-five years that most gondolas in Venice operate.
But like anything else made of wood, they need maintenance.