Fórcole - the unmistakable oarlocks used for Venetian rowing. They are made in countless forms depending on whether they are used for work, for recreation or for regattas. As well as the consolidated traditional models, new forms are continually being invented; certain models are abandoned in favour of others considered to be more efficient (to return later ‘in vogue’).
Fórcole are now considered objects of complex and refined workmanship for which only the finest woods are used. They are kept and exhibited as precious sculptures. It should not be forgotten, however, that they are derived from ‘poor ancestors’ - the fórcole used for centuries every day by fishermen and boatsmen. These early ancestors were generally flat, with large morsi
Glossary, made with common - but tough - wood, often leftovers from the construction of boats.
Refined fórcole are characterized by the use of thick blocks of wood to allow for sculpting, and to create the sanca
Glossary - the ‘elbow’ which curves over the outer side of the boat. In many cases the sanca is a real necessity, in others it is an embellishment. The same basic form is used as for the ‘working’ fórcole, but with a thickness which allows the flat side to be completely rounded. The morsi are reduced to the minimum necessary and therefore twisted to allow the oar to pivot. They are carefully finished with fine sandpaper and are often engraved and finished with gold leaf.
Of these, the most impressive and famous - so much so that examples are displayed as sculptures for their striking visual impact - is that of the stern fórcola for gondolas. It is between 85 and 90 cm high, with a sanca of about 24 - 27 cm.
It can be divided into two main parts: the lower part, the gamba
Glossary, which is inserted into a slot in the side of the gondola and is normally hidden from view, and the upper part used for the various manouevres of the oar. Thes two parts are separated by a horizontal block called the tapa Glossary. The body of the fórcola extends outwards from the tapa to form the elbow or sanca, which has an almost triangular section with rounded edges. It bends back towards the boat until it is aligned with the base, it flattening out to form the ‘head’ into which the morso is cut. The pointed extremeties of the morso are called nasei Glossary, while the opposite protrusion récia Glossary.

Stern fòrcola for gondola

Bow fòrcola for gondola

Bow fòrcola, velàda Glossary , for gondola

Stern fòrcola for sàndolo

Stern fòrcola, velàda, for sàndolo

Stern fòrcola for gondolìn

Bow fòrcola for mascarèta