the Venetian Corderia
« Quale nell’arzanà de’ Viniziani
bolle l’inverno la tenace pece
a rimpalmare i legni lor non sani,
ché navicar non ponno – in quella vece
chi fa suo legno nuovo e chi ristoppa
le coste a quel che più vïaggi fece;
chi ribatte da proda e chi da poppa;
altri fa remi e altri volge sarte;
chi terzeruolo e artimon rintoppa -;
tal, non per foco ma per divin’ arte,
bollia là giuso una pegola spessa,
che ‘nviscava la ripa d’ogne parte. »
(Dante Alighieri, Divina Commedia, Inferno, XXI, vv. 7-18)
The history of the Arsenal Corderie was born between 1304 and 1322, when the first Corderie factory was built: the “Tana” (Casa del Canevo, hemp house). In this area, precious naval ropes were produced at an industrial level, at the lowest possible cost and with the advantage of remaining independent from external suppliers in the event of war.
The raw material (hemp, also used for caulking the hulls) came mainly from the mouth of the Don river, on the Azov sea, where the Venetians had made important agreements and commercial relations. The raw material was of great value and there could be no waste: the ropes were produced inside the Tana, a building over three hundred meters long and subsequently stored in the dedicated spaces in the countryside road, so called because it was the only way of the Arsenal that did not “touch” the water.
When needed, the workers took the rope of the necessary length through holes, to then be cut to the required size, rather than being packaged in standard lengths. The holes, still present, were recognizable because on the outside they were decorated with huge white stone faces where the hole for the passage of the rope was the mouth.
The short ropes that may have been left over naturally were not thrown away, they were removed, the textile fiber repurposed and finally trimmed by the sogàri. This guaranteed excellent savings for the Republic and at the same time allowed the ropes to be sold to foreign ships in transit at a lower and more competitive price than the market at the time.
NELLA MAPPA DI JACOPO DE BARBARI
A crenellated building, with access to the field, faces a small drawbridge that connects the Fondamenta de la Tana with the Arsenale; followed by three buildings arranged in a “C” where the front construction has a bench against the wall and in the arsenalizia area behind it you can see a rectangular body of water delimited by a wall on one of the two long sides. This tank was certainly used for hemp maceration, as the rooms used for the construction of the ropes were not far away.
Access to the Casa del Canevo has a portico, on pillars, with two large door-holes on the ground and one overlooking the Rio della Tana and an angular tower marks the beginning of the Corderie that develop, after the remaking between the 1579 and 1583, 317 meters long and 21 meters wide.
– AA.VV. “Venezia Città Mirabile”, Cierre Edizioni Verona, 2009, p. 59-60
LE CORDERIE E LA CASA DEL CANEVO OGGI