April 07, 2015

"F" is for Forcola

The gondola is an enduring image of the watery city of Venice. These flat-bottomed boats are rowed through congested canals by an agile gondolier and a single long oar. Holding the oar in place is the forcola, or oar lock. Forcole (the plural of forcola) are still hand-carved today by skilled local craftsmen and they’re not only functional; they’re also works of art.



Gondola Forcola, or Oar Lock


The workshop of master wood carver Saverio Pastor is located in the Dorsoduro district of Venice near the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The shop is filled with rough slabs of wood awaiting their transformation into sleek oars and forcole.


Forcola Outside Saverio Pastor's Workshop


Workshop of Saverio Pastor


Elsewhere in Dorsoduro is another workshop, the Squero di San Trovaso, where the city’s fleet of gondolas are built and repaired. The building resembles an alpine chalet as these craftsmen traditionally hail from Italy’s mountainous Dolomite region.


Squero di San Trovaso, Gondola Workshop


I thought about buying a forcola as a souvenir of my visit to Venice (they’re available for purchase in the shop or on the Saverio Pastor website) but reconsidered when faced with the challenge of fitting it in my luggage. Instead I brought home some smaller, lighter souvenirs. And now I’m second-guessing my decision; a forcola would’ve been a unique piece of sculpture for my home.


The Forcola, a Venetian Work of Art



10 comments:

  1. I love this obscure random word. I have been on a Gondola, It was one of those things we just had to do.

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    1. I agree - you can't go to Venice and not ride a gondola!

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  2. Interesting! We were in Venice a couple of years ago. We didn't ride the gondolas (no real desire to) but we thought they were lovely. Happy A-Zing!

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  3. When I went to Venice in 1969, I couldn't afford to take a gondola ride. Kinda wish we had splurged.

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    1. Yes, gondola rides can be expensive. Fortunately both times I was in Venice it was with a tour group and the gondola was included.

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  4. This is so interesting! We took a gondola ride when we were in Venice last week, but I didn't know they were hand-carved right there in Venice. I'd love to see them making the actual boats as well.

    I found you through the A-Z challenge, and I must say, having just returned from Italy, I'm loving these posts!

    www.kaitlinthrogmorton.com

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    1. I'm glad you found me. I'll be talking about Italy for months!

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  5. Hmm. Now I'm wondering where you might put a forcola in your home! Perhaps use it as a coat rack?

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    1. I think they come on a stand, like a table top sculpture.

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