Shipwright is a very ancient profession; these craftsmen build wooden boats, shaping and adapting the different types of wood with the ax to the shapes needed to build the various parts of the boat. A profession as ancient as it is noble and precious, dating back to the times when boats were mainly built in wood. There are still today in some places in Sicily (including Acitrezza, Porticello, Sferracavallo, Castellammare del Golfo, Nizza di Sicilia, Messina and Syracuse) some artisans, belonging to families who handed down the ancient techniques of building wooden boats from father to son. Today wooden boats are not very common and the shipwrights primarily carry out repair or restoration activities; their services are, in fact, less and less in demand as the use of materials other than wood is established in the large-scale production of hulls for boats and ships.

There are still shipyards that use wood to build high quality boats, and the shipwrights are required to take care of the most delicate operations of the construction and maintenance of these hulls.

One of the best known families of Sicilian shipwrights is that of the Rodolico, from Aci Trezza. These artisans have practiced this profession for many generations, so much so that they have gone down in history, because they are mentioned in an important novel of the current of realism, of Italian literature: “I Malavoglia” by Giovanni Verga.

Buttitta A. (a cura di), Le forme del lavoro. Mestieri tradizionali in Sicilia, Flaccovio, Palermo, 1990
Tricamo M., Tonnare. Tonni, mattanze, barche e maestri d'ascia tra Sicilia nord-orientale e Calabria, Lombardo Edizioni, 2015
Mastri d’ascia di Trezza
L'arte millenaria dei maestri d'ascia
REIMAR website