Venice, 4th October 2021 – Expertise, precision, and many working hours. The rémer is an ancient venetian craftsmanship job, survived to industrialization and technology. It’s a lonely, manual work, where calluses on the hands mark time and fatigue. Essential in the city of the past when citizens' mobility relied completely on rows, it is still important today, since part of a history and culture that really wants to continue its existence.
Saverio Pastor, a professional rémer, is one of the official representatives of the venetian contemporary craftsmanship, in addition to him being a member of the Associazione El Fèlze that, in occasion of Venice 1600 years, aims at telling stories and secrets of craftsmanship gondolas works with a cycle of meetings titled “Storie sotto el Fèlze”, until November 7th. The name of the association is an homage to a Venice of the past, and to one of its disappeared symbols: the moving cabin at the centre of the gondola, called "fèlze".
Squeri, botteghe e remiere will be the background of craftsmanship stories in a nutshell, told by the same craftsmen that still work in the city, by means of several passionate events about these ancient and fascinating arts and crafts.
«To recall and tell our stories is important – comments Saverio Pastor – and we care about doing it in our workplace, in order to show closely our arts and crafts and so to bring back to life memories of jobs that nowadays do not exist anymore, such as: the falzeri and the conzafelzi. We have been doing this for long, but this year, witnessing these traditions is even more special because it fits in Venice 1600 years anniversary and, consequently, in our arts and crafts»
Pastor, part of a cultural heritage still alive in the city centre, spends every day with wood in his hands. He sculpts, polishes, and gives a new life to rows and row locks consumed by the passing of time and by water. He began as a shop boy and learnt, day by day, mistake by mistake, thanks to his master’s teachings, how to manage timber’s roughness.
«In the past, people used to become artisans by following the mariegola dei remeri – Pastor says – a book that used to regulate this art by stating that trainees had to work for five years without being paid or, as they called at “pan e vin” (bread and wine). After these five years, they had to take a test and, in case of success, they could become salaried workers. After 5 more years, it was possible to do a further test in order to be recognized as masters, have a raise on their salary and open their own shop».
A professional rémer, who takes hours and hours with wood and tools such as the bandsaw, the sander, the axe and the scraper, although what really matters in this job is the sensitivity of the hands and the eye of the master that follows the path of who, previously, thought him this art.
«It takes from 8 to 10 hours to build a row – underlines Pastor -. To build a row lock, it can take from 5 to 40 hours, depending on the model. Beginning from half a trunk and ending with the creation of an object that in the past used to be just a support for the row, although today it is considered as a real sculpture. Nevertheless, working hours, fatigue and effort are always paid back with the satisfaction for keeping this venetian history and tradition alive»
To know more about the next events of “Storie sotto El Fèlze” and to have more information about the Associazione El Fèlze, go on https://www.elfelze.it/storie-sotto-el-felze/
 Literally: boatyard, ateliers, and row studios