Italian Artisans: Meet Piero Dri, Keeper of an Ancient Venetian Profession

May 24, 2021 249

BY: Silvia Donati

An astronomer turned remèr: Venetian Piero Dri ditched stars and planets for oars and oarlocks. Piero chose to carry on an ancient profession that has been essential for the community of Venice for centuries: the remèr, a Venetian word for the artisan who crafts by hand oars (remi in Italian) and oarlocks (forcole) for Venetian boats. There are only four remèri left in Venice, and Piero is the youngest.

When he opened his workshop in Cannaregio in 2013, people around him thought he was crazy to embark in a business that seemed to pose more challenges than certainties, or any type of financial security. Hence the name Piero gave to his business, Il Forcolaio Matto (the crazy oarlock maker). And challenges he indeed has faced and continues to face, made all the worse by the pandemic, with gondoliers grounded and tourists gone, which for Piero means very little work. 

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