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Venetian briccole: what are they -and what is their story?

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The Briccole are one of the symbols of Venice, although less known to mass tourism. You can meet them while navigating in the lagoons of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. But what is their story?

The Venetian Briccola, a story of rebirth

The Venetian lagoon has always been an important commercial hub, a crossroads of river and maritime routes connecting Eastern and Northern Europe.
The Briccola, or even bricola, is an oak wood structure, used for several centuries by sailors to orient themselves and understand the depth of the bottom.
Even today the briccole are essential for navigation, since they indicate the navigable routes, the shallows and the navigation rules..

The briccola should be replaced after some time because of the action of a woodworm called teredine that consumes the wood until it breaks

From the forest to the sea, and then once removed to be replaced, the briccole often are then processed to be reborn and become artistic pieces for furniture with a historic flavor. Today, after more than a millennium of usage, the lagoon looks like a forest dotted with long oak poles.

During our itinerary "Venice Lagoon and the Smaller Islands" you will meet hundreds of Briccole; but what are they exactly and what are they for? Let’s find out together!

 

History of Venetian Briccole

 

The Venetian Briccole, their uniqueness and their fundamental contribution to navigation

The briccola consists of one, two or more wooden poles, usually oak. These poles are tied together and fitted in the sandy bottom of the lagoon for much of their length. In Venice the briccola can consist of a single pole (palina), or more poles (bricola), up to five poles and a higher central one that serves to indicate the beginning of a lagoon channel; in this case they are called meda.

The briccole preserved they importance over the centuries, and are still essential today to identify the navigable channels, to understand where shallows to avoid are, and support visual signs, like speed limits, more or less at the same way you may find along the roadsIn short, they are fundamental during houseboat driving and not only!

The briccole must be replaced by time to time in order to avoid them breaking down because of the presence of the woodworm called Teredine, and then becoming a floating danger for boats.
Each briccola remains stuck in the lagoon for decades and brings the signs of time, telling a unique story that is intertwined with myths and legends. It is not possible to know the exact number of existing briccole, but almost one hundred thousand units, drawing a scenario unique in the world.. The briccola, all around the world, is also called Duc d'albe or Dalben or Dolphin.

During your trip with Houseboat Holidays Italia you will meet several briccole that will indicate the canals in the lagoons of Venice, Marano and Grado.
You can also find on some poles, inside the city canals with mooring function, the decorations with the symbols ("de casada") of the Venetian nobility. Those poles are called paline, not to be confused with the briccole
In short, the Briccole are a concentrate of history and culture that make Venice even more unique and special!

Discover all our itineraries and do not miss the magic of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia.

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