To get a behind the scenes view of Venice, a visit to the atelier run by Il Forcolaio Matto (the Mad Rowlock Maker) can be a good idea. In his workshop, opened after graduating in Astronomy, Piero Dri handcrafts the special Venetian rowlocks and the oars used on gondolas. This unique art is over seven centuries old, and has the most demanding and skilful clients: the Venetian rowers. A forcola has to be perfect from a technical point of view, both in terms of effectiveness but also because of its peculiar aesthetic qualities – it is a true sculpted artwork – which may be placed as a piece of interior design.
The mad rowlock makerIn Venice, rowlocks and oars are special, just like the gondolas on which they are used. The Venetian rowlock is called a "forcola", and today there are only four forcolai left in the city. The youngest of them is Piero Dri, who calls himself "Il Forcolaio Matto" (the mad rowlock maker), because when he started, after the 2008 economic crisis, many told him he was crazy to invest in this business. But Piero was determined, and having learnt all the secrets of the trade from his master, Paolo Brandolisio, he opened his own workshop, where he continues a tradition that dates back many centuries. “I wanted to create something where you could breathe tradition but not in a nostalgic way,” he says. “I don't like feeling sorry for myself, so I wanted to make a cheerful impression on a traditional profession.”
A free audio guide, available to stream from 10 April to 1 May, will enhance your experience of Homo Faber in Citta. Discover more about Venice, its crafts workshops and its heritage as a city of craftsmanship, to complement your personal tour.Listen
Please stay informed about the latest Covid safety requirements in Venice and comply with any requests from the venues you visit, to ensure the safety of yourself and the participating artisans.
Make sure you arrive on time at each venue (although no more than ten minutes early), to make the most of your experience and the artisan’s time. Please call the venue ahead of time if you are likely to be late.
Please let us know if you wish to cancel your booking so that we may offer the opportunity to another visitor. Cancel or rebook directly on your account or via your confirmation or reminder email. If cancelling on the day of your event, kindly inform the venue by telephone.