Carving through Water

An Artisan’s view
Saverio Pastor, Master Venetian Rèmeri
(Oar and Rowlock Craftsman)

The iconic Venetian gondola dates back to 1094 and has been a staple of the day-to-day life of Venice ever since. Crafting oars and ‘fórcole’ (rowlocks) for gondolas, Saverio Pastor is one of three remaining Remèri who keep this rich tradition alive in Venice today. Each piece fashioned by Pastor is tailor-made by hand using traditional techniques and tools, with the ‘fórcole’ even on display at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

An Artisan’s view
Saverio Pastor, Master Venetian Rèmeri (Oar and Rowlock Craftsman)

How long have you been living in Venice?

I was born in Venice in 1958 and have always lived, worked and studied here. I have always felt at ease here and have chosen a craft which is integral to life and culture in Venice.

What are your thoughts on the place of the Remèri in Venice?

The Remèri were fundamental to the birth of Venice itself. Without oars and fórcole not even a pole would have been planted, and there would have been no city. It is important to recognise the significant role the remèri have played, as it reflects such an important characteristic of Venice’s past, present and future.

What is the proudest moment of your career?

One thing I am particularly proud of is crafting the rig of the Disdotona, the queen of a fleet of typical Venetian boats. I have made oars and fórcole for every Maritime Republic over the years, Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice to name a few.

Why is craftsmanship important in today’s world?

Immersed as we are in technology and mass production, in today’s world, we risk losing the fundamental aspects of craftsmanship. The manual skills, planning and customisation of the creative process, enable artisans to make truly unique products.

What is your favourite spot in Venice to watch the world go by?

At the bottom of Riva degli Schiavoni, there are benches all the way to Sant’Elena, overlooking the lagoon. The horizon there is breathtaking from an aesthetic point of view, and is also rich in a past that already speaks for itself.

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