The Floating Section of the Museo della Marineria is located in the oldest and most characteristic part of the Port of Cesenatico. After a day on the beach, before going back to the hotel, or during a walk around the old city, you can't miss a visit to this fascinating and original open air museum.

In this setting, examples of old boats of the central and northern Adriatic are docked along the first stretch of the "Leonardesque" canal. They have been restored and reassembled according to their original function.

The fishing boats and small scale boats belong to a period between the late 1800 and early 1900. They are the bragozzo (1), the transport trabaccolo (2), the barchetto (3) (fishing trabacollo boat), the battana (4), the bragozzo d'altura, the topo(5) , the launch and the fishing smack. They strike for their shape, colour and above all for the spectacular vele al terzo(6) , very colourful and characterized by heraldic symbology.

Around the end of the 1700, in the  central and northern Adriatic civilizations, the trapezoidal "vele al terzo" started to replace the triangular Latin sails and remain used until the first motor boats appeared. The "vele al terzo" were widely used especially by the smaller seamanship and particularly by fishing boats or small scale transport boats. They suit boats with a flat hull and a scope helm, because they guarantee a balanced and efficient work with the wind. Compared to older types, they meant an important innovation due to the easy handling and the possibility to steer even with a small crew.

To be recognised from far and also at night, the sails were marked with particular symbolic and bright coloured decoration. The paint was made from natural pigments like some widely available type of soil, then dissolved in water and applied on the canvas with a cloth, following a procedure that could guarantee resistance to the sun, wind and sea water.

The warm colour tones prevailed, like the yellow ochre, red brick and brown, and white, blue and green can be also seen although in a smaller scale. The symbols were composed according to a particular code invented by the fishermen around late 1800, referring to several fishermen families. Among the most used symbols in Cesenatico there are: the moccolo (candle end), the striscia (stripes), the gallone (braids), the pappardella (rigmarole), the tovaglia (tablecloth), the tovaglioli (napkins).

The boats had also colours and symbology related to propitiatory magic and religion, reminding the dangers of sea life. The sketched "eyes" on the bow indicated a kind of personification of the boat, as if it could see far away, beyond the horizon. The sketched flower shoots represent the "zoie" (jewels), while at the bow, the "headgear" portraying the fur of a ram, refers to an old rite of sacrifice. 

A. Cocchi

Trad.: A. Sturmer


1) A fishing or transport boat for coastal navigation in the Adriatic. It has two masts with a lug sail.

2) A small boat used for fishing; a small ship lug-rigged on two or three masts.

3) Fishing trabaccolo boat.

4) Traditional flat bottom wood boat from Venice, Romagna and Istria.

5) Typical boat for use in the Venetian lagoons.

6) A type of fore-and-aft rigged sail. These sails are set along the line of the keel rather than perpendicular to it.


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The boats of the Seamanship Museum

back: Seamanship Museum

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