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In the case of Venice it was unthinkable not to start with a project that was inspired by the deeply rooted water culture and the Squeri San Isepo restoration project represents a perfect synthesis between tradition and innovation, between the centrality of the culture of the place and its sharing with the city ​​guests

The traditions of the shipbuilding squeri are as old as Venice itself, the city being inseparable from its watery environment which requires the use of boats for transport. ‘Barca xe casa’, a boat is home, as Venetians have said for centuries. The etymology of the word squero may be linked to the local word squadra (a square), an essential tool for carpenters.  It is also suggested that squero comes from the Greek word eschárion, i.e. boatyard.

In the past, Venetians referred to their crafts as ‘Arts’, which were understood to indicate ‘corporations’ in the original medieval meaning of the word.  These were associations legally recognised by the Venetian Republic, and each of them included all workers and operators within the same trade or occupation.  The workers engaged in various tasks in the squeri were called squeraroli, and among these were the carpenters and the caulkers, whose work was hard, and it required precision, so much so that an apprentice needed eight years before qualifying as a ‘master caulker’.

The Project: A Centre for the Study and Enhancement of the Ancient and Traditional Maritime Crafts in Venice

A new life for the squero grando (large shipyard): the aim is to bring it back to its original shape and make it operational, thus affording it the added function of being a teaching laboratory for the nearby nautical schools and an interesting additional to the experience of Venetian culture.

In charge of the project 150 years of history and traditional craftsmanship.

The Society for Mutual Assistance of Carpenters and Caulkers – Società di Mutuo Soccorso fra Carpentieri e Calafati – was founded in Venice in 1867 and it is acknowledged as the oldest of the associations still in existence in the city.
In 2017, the Society celebrated 150 years of activity, making it the proud holder of the title of the oldest association in Venice.

The Society is the moral heir of its forerunners, the old schole picole, the ‘little schools’.  These were devotional, charitable and occupational institutions to which workers and operators in the same craft belonged.  In this case, the various categories of arsenalotti (Arsenal workers) belonged either to the Schola dei Calafai a l’Arsenal (School of Arsenal Caulkers) or to the Schola dei Marangoni da Nave (School of Ship Carpenters). 

The Society’s main activity is mutual assistance for its members, based on a sharing of resources made available by its members through their annual subscription.

The Society’s patron saint is St Phocas (san Foca), who is also the protector of the ancient corporation of caulkers, the Arte dei Calafai de l’Arsenal.

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