Symbol of the city of Venice, the gondola is a prized piece of work crafted in only a handful of boatyards. The Tramontin boatyard was founded in 1884 by Domenico Tramontin, and is today run by his descendant Roberto (1954 - 2018).
Fine Mechanics / Shipbuilding
Supplier to the Royal House, the Prefecture and today the City of Venice, Tramontin revolutionised how the hull of the gondola was built. The bottom of the boat was widened at the stern to counterbalance the significant weight of gondoliers of the time, while the topside was raised to create a broader curve, lending elegance to the vessel. His competitors quickly adopted these innovations.
Roberto Tramontin is a master of the craft of gondola making. His unit of measure is still the “Venetian foot”, in use since the 1400s, as it is more appropriate to the size and proportions of the gondola, and he personally selects the wood used (durmast oak, linden, larch and cherrywood, depending on the purpose) and oversees each stage of production. The tools of his craft are still those of old—the axe, plane, saw and hammer. The wood is shaped exclusively by soaking it in water and then heating it over a fire. The line of the stern of each gondola is designed for the weight of the gondolier who will own the boat, a construction method that is now used only by this historic boatyard.
Roberto Tramontin crafts each and every gondola to be unique in the ease with which it is poled, in its sturdiness and in its perfect, harmonious design, for which Tramontin is often considered the Enzo Ferrari of boating.
Today the boatyard not only crafts authentic gondolas but also restores historic vintage gondolas, such as the gondola owned by the poet Robert Browning, considered the oldest surviving gondola in the world.
Featured in the publication Nobiltà del fare as an Italian craftsman of excellence.