When navigating the lagoon, by boat or vaporetto, you’ll find yourself immersed in one of the most evocative landscapes that nature has to offer.
The Venetian Lagoon is a world unto itself, with unique features and details that mark its identity: calm waters and a shallow seabed, dotted with salt marshes, sand banks and islands. However, above all you’ll notice the distinctive ‘bricole’ that guide boats through this fragile and intensely fascinating ecosystem.
Like sentinels watching over the lagoon, the bricole mark the navigable canals indicating and delimiting where boats can safely circulate even during low tides and on foggy days.
For those who sail in the lagoon, knowing what these objects are and what they mean is both mandatory and indispensable.
Bricole, paline and dame
The bricole, (also spelled bricole), of the Venetian lagoon are made up of two or more thick, oak-wood posts, bound together and driven into the seabed.
These are not to be confused with the posts that are located along the island’s canals which are called ‘paline’. These are single posts used for mooring boats.
Then there are the ‘dame’, which can be recognized because they are made up of five posts bound together, one of which is taller than the others, usually with a light attached to it. These are used to mark the beginning of a canal.
A regulation regarding the bricole was enacted on 8 December 1439, establishing their use as a way to mark the lagoon’s canals. Not much has changed over the years, a reflector has been added here and there, or sometimes a light, to help sailors navigate at night.
Once in the water, bricole will last from 5 to 10 years; a lot depends on where they are located and how strongly they are affected by the movement of the waves which erode them over time.
The oak-wood posts are eaten away right at the waterline, worn down by the fluctuations of the tides, and the countless microorganisms present within this unique ecosystem.
A valuable material to be reclaimed
Due to this constant erosion, it’s quite important that he bricole be replaced when necessary. Otherwise, they could break apart and become floating debris, dangerous to the many boats plying the waters of the Venetian lagoon every day. Venetians call them ‘crocodiles’ and it’s easy to guess why.
Pieces of Venice gives new life to the discarded bricole by reclaiming the precious wood and using it to create new products. Every item in our collection holds the soul and the history of these silent sentinels that, once retired, are transformed into designer souvenirs that will live in the homes of those who want to save a piece of Venice.
Briccola s. f. [uncertain etymology].
- Name sometimes given to the mangonel (military device) in Italian.
- Each one of the special signals, made up of posts or groups of posts, driven into the seabed, which stand up along the edges of the low-water areas and shoals in order to indicate navigable routes and canals and possibly serve as mooring posts.