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Slow navigation. Gondolas, sails, oars, and new challenges

Nowtilus. Stories from an urban lagoon in the 21st century



Available on Ocean Archive, SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes e Google Podcast

After the summer break, “Nowtilus. Stories from an urban lagoon in the 21st century” is returning with new episodes and new stories that recount the extraordinary nature of everyday life in Venice, and offer up ideas for preserving and rethinking the city.

This episode is dedicated to traditional watercraft, the boat, the oar and the sail, beginning with the personal story of sisters Elena and Elisabetta Tramontin, who manage the family “Squero”, or shipyard, of Domenico Tramontin and sons, one of the oldest in Venice, and the reflections of Silvio Testa, journalist and writer on traditional rowing and sailing practices of the Northern Adriatic Sea. Together with Nowtilus’ presenter Enrico Bettinello and our guests, we will discover stories of traditions handed down from generation to generation, the new challenges in adapting them to our time, and we will talk about the demands that lead to the creation of the Vogalonga and the Vela Al Terzo as a means of bringing us closer to the lagoon, and much more. A tribute to slowness and care.

The episode is available on Ocean Archive, SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes and Google Podcast.

Music: Saltland (2020) by Enrico Coniglio. Mauro Sambo, composed for this episode starting from an environmental registration in a gondola with two oars from Giudecca to Campana Island. Courtesy of Enrico Coniglio and Mauro Sambo.


Elisabetta and Elena Tramontin have been both managing and working in the historic family “squero” (boatyard) since 2018.

They represent the fifth generation to have inherited the management of one of the oldest and most important boatyards in Venice. They are also the first women to take on the responsibility and complex techniques, which they are learning more and more about, year after year.

Located in the heart of the Dorsoduro district, the historic Squero Domenico Tramontin & Figli was founded on February 2, 1884 by Domenico Tramontin, who made important changes to the hull design that had been used up to that time, modifications that were met with such widespread approval that they were accepted definitively even by other manufacturers. The boatyard was the official supplier of the Royal House of Savoy, the Police Headquarters and the Carabinieri Command, and there were many other illustrious customers who were served by the Tramontin. In addition to exporting gondolas to many parts of the world - Europe, Australia, Japan, and America - and being the subject of numerous publications and documentaries over the years, the Squero Tramontin also distinguished itself for some important restorations: the gondola housed at Palazzo Barbaro built by Domenico Tramontin in 1890, the gondola built in 1939 for the Casa Reale, now housed in the Doge's Palace, and the oldest gondola in the world that belonged to the poet Robert Browning, which is now housed in "The Mariner's Museum" in Newport Virginia.


Silvio Testa is a graduate of philosophy and a professional journalist, who since the 1980s has covered major events in Venice for the newspaper Il Gazzettino. He has written various texts on traditional rowing and sailing practices of the Upper Adriatic, and from an environmental angle, including: Squeraroli e squeri (1983); Lagoon, the conservation of an ecosystem

(1984); Traditions and regattas of vela al terzo (2011) and many others. He has been a member of: the Front for the Defense of Venice and the Lagoon, the Municipal Commission of the Parco della Laguna; the Agenda 21

forum of the Municipality of Venice. Testa was on the board of directors of the Reale Società Canottieri Bucintoro and promoter of Pax in Aqua, a coordination between the rowing, Venetian rowing, and sailing clubs of the lagoon to more effectively combat the large waves caused by inadequately regulated motorized water traffic. Furthermore, Silvio Testa is also spokesperson for the NO Grandi Navi - Laguna Bene Comune committee.