The Casal boats: the gondola's builders in Venice from the Dolomites of Val di Zoldo
Boat of Casal, what else?
Emigration from the Dolomites to Venice was constant over the centuries. Many young apprentices in the squeri became masters and reached levels of excellence. The inclination of the gondola was fixed by Giovanni Casal from Zoldo, in the early nineteenth century, in the Squero ai Servi, San Marcuola. The motto: "boat of Casal, what else?" spread in Venice, as if to signify that such a degree of perfection was difficult to overcome.
The squèro is a yard equipped for the manufacture of lagoon boats. The descendants of the first Casal migrants bought the "squéro da sotil" in rio dei Servi in San Marcuola, in which people from Zoldo had been working since the mid-18th century.
The Giuseppe Casal and son company obtained the Gold Medal at the Turin exhibition in 1884, in Vienna in 1895 and the silver medal of the Royal Veneto Institute of sciences, letters and arts in 1897.
The Casal boats: a masterpiece of Zoldo's boatbuilders in Venice - the exhibition of 2019 in Val di Zoldo.
The exhibition "The Casal boats: a masterpiece of Zoldo's boatbuilders in Venice" of the 2019 at the conference hall Almerindo Rizzardini in Fusine (Val di Zoldo) was introduced by an authentic gondola of the thirties and continued with the exposition of the eleven magnificent models of boats, by Giuseppe and Antonio Casal, from the Museo Correr in Venice.
Loan of the Museum are also a model of raft, a couple of ancient "ferri da gondola", and two works by Valentino Besarel: a wooden bust of an ideal Andrea Brustolon and an original frame dedicated to the work of the "squerarioli", while the frame of Sante Colussi's portrait comes from the Val di Zoldo Municipality. The exhibition was completed by a rich documentary archive, together with the fruit of recent research on the squeri zoldani and their location in Venice.
A sentimental itinerary takes place on the upper floor, in which the artistic quality gives way to the affective value of the works: some of the watercolors by Ninetta Casal Besarel are exposed, together with the reproduction of the of the frescoes still present in the Casal venetian house, reproducing nineteenth-century life in Zoldo.
This project aimed to rediscover and enhance the heritage of excellent craftsmanship represented by mountain people in past centuries, especially the boat builders of the Venetian lagoon - a trade in which they put all their knowledge, experience, skill and fantasy. This is why it was important to "bring the models home".