Sunday, November 27, 2011


photos by Tamás Fehér
As beautiful and unique as they are, many of the standard-design rowing boats of the Veneto are seen as "just another _____" as they float alongside others of the same design.

Sure, a gondola in a group of gondolas may look more "common",
but each and every rowing boat in the Venetian rowing fleet is a beautiful thing; unique in her own way, and built with great care by someone who probably loves their job almost as much as they love the boats they build.

But if you still can't help but look at a bunch of sandoli at a rowing club, or the raft of gondolas in Bacino Orseolo, and say to yourself "ah, they're all the same", you can't say that about something like this:
I realize that the term is probably an aberration, and I must confess that I coined it myself, but I like to call this group of boats the "big desonas".
These bring custom-built to a whole new level.
There are 8, 10, and 12 oared versions.
The Gruppo Sportivo Voga Veneta - Mestre has many boats, but their pride and joy is the 14-oar "Mestrina" - a quattordesona
The "Mestrina" is so big that she consists of three sections that are bolted together (easier to transport that way).
I believe the 18-post "disdotona" at the Società Canottieri Francesco Querini currently holds top billing in the group. 

Of course each of the "big desonas" are original designs, but they all tend to have a certain look - as if they were based on the gondola design at both ends. But this one is different.
That's not the tail of a gondola there.
And the prow is more like that of a sandolo-type vessel.
Tamás shot these while attending a regatta off the end of Giudecca,
he didn't get a lot of info on the boat, but one of the photos came with the name “Benedettina”.
in taking a closer look, I noticed the name of the club on the side:
Gruppo remiero "Porto Pedocco" in Comune di Correzzola.

Next, I searched “Benedettina” and found this page on Gilberto Penzo’s website:
There’s a boat in the “Pupparin” section of the page that looks a lot like this one (except that she appears to be a three-part-boat that can be bolted together like "Mestrina").

In examining the photos, this looks like a 12 oared boat, but my suspicion was that "Benedettina" also wasn't a fancy new way to say "twelve-man-boat". 

I asked Nereo Zane about the boat, and he cleared it up as only a Venetian can:
"Benedettina" is the boat's name, like Mestrina is the name of our quatoresona.
The name "Benedettina" comes from an old Monastery (founded in the 13th century) called "Corte Benedettina" located in Correzzola. The monastery was very important for the whole area during the past centuries. Today it's an interesting and unique witness of the past.

Nereo also provided this link:
click on the "Storia" tab, and you can learn more about the history of the place.

Nereo's opinion was the same as mine:
In my opinion (after a visit to Gilberto's website) the boat is a multiple rower puparin with the stern like a sandolo buranello.

Anyone with more information on this unique boat is encouraged to comment on this post or e-mail me at