Venice was built on water as if it were a shallow swamp; the areas to be built were therefore solidified by planting larch or oak poles, which could resist over time under water because they were not in contact with the air.
The “bricole” are large trunks of larch, oak or acacia, gathered in groups and positioned in the lagoon to indicate the navigable canals (even in low tide conditions). Many of these have been recovered as ancient wood and used for the construction of tables, floors, coverings.
In the construction of the boats, the Venetians used oak wood for the carpentry and edging, larch for the interiors and fir for the masts of the sails.
Famous in the Vicenza area is the “Calà del Sasso”, a street with 4,444 steps that connects the Asiago plateau to Valstagna. Along this road the timber was “lowered” from the mountain to the Brenta river and from there transported by rafts to the province and, above all, to Venice.
One of the main canals of Venice is still called the “canal of the rafts”. One of the favorite destinations of the Brenta “raftsmen” was near the Porto Vecchio of Bassano. Still on the embankment there is a small door that communicates with the Nardini Distillery: there you could both refresh yourself with a toast and shop for “group” grappa and then resell it in the following stages!
The rafts that were used to transport the timber along the rivers were made up of 15/18 logs. Each raft was tied to the others to form “trains” (from 3 to 6 elements) for a total length of about 30 meters, trains that faced journeys lasting 3-4 days.
The slingshots used in the Middle Ages for fighting and hunting were made (but they are also in modern times) of ash, carnelian, hazel or olive; there is a special technique for their construction, ranging from the selection of the wood (for the shape of the fork) to the bending, seasoning, sanding and finishing.
Tradition has it that Noah’s Ark was built in ash wood.
In the countryside it is still said today that “the vine is married to the elm”: this is because the elm wood was used as a support for the vines (today it is mostly replaced by concrete posts).
Spruce is used in the construction of musical instruments for its high sound amplification properties. Antonio Stradivari, the most famous violin maker, obtained this wood in Val di Fiemme.
The elm has been known since ancient times for its wound healing properties (the fact is also mentioned by Pliny the Elder).
The oak contains the “tannin”, a liquid which gives the oak barrels a much appreciated aroma and which allows the wood to resist the fermentation of the must during the wine transformation process.