top of page

THE LAST SHIPWRIGHT

The Rodolico shipyard between community, tradition and identity

ACI TREZZA RODOLICO

The Rodolico shipyard in Aci Trezza (Sicily), guardian of the ancient art of the shipwright, reflects a precious heritage of Sicilian traditions. Within its breath of wood and sea lies a heritage to protect and pass on. 

In line with the ideals of Emotional Sicily, the project aims to preserve and celebrate this cultural treasure commissioning the Rodolico shipyard to craft a traditional boat as an act of conservation and remembrance while becoming a living embodiment of the identity of the coast.

 

The construction process will be narrated through a documentary and photographs.

Every shot, every frame, is a fragment of a story that risks being lost if not carefully safeguarded.

The vessels tell millennia-old stories of craftsmanship and passion. The construction of the boat thus becomes an opportunity not only to keep alive the art of ancient crafts but also to tell the origins and intertwined lives that animate the shipyard since 1808. And in this collective narrative, the local community becomes the protagonist, strengthening the bonds with their own land and roots.

The imposing shadow of Mount Etna, silent guardian of Sicilian history and culture, lends the project an aura of sanctity and antiquity.  In this symbiosis between man and environment, tradition and territory, the millennial pact that binds the soul of the island to our mother earth is renewed.

THE RODOLICO SHIPYARD

The RODOLICO shipyard has been operating since 1808 on the coast north of Catania, on the island of Sicily, and since the early 1900s, in front of the volcanic cliffs of Aci Trezza. This place is indissolubly linked to Greek mythology and literature by realist novelist, Giovanni Verga. It is also geologically significant as the site where Mount Etna first manifested its activity 570 thousand years ago, leading to the creation of the island of Lachea and the characteristic magmatic cliffs known as the Faraglioni di Aci Trezza.

 

In a location dense with stories and history, the shipyard has remained unchanged for over 200 years. Currently, Salvatore Martino (86) and his son Giovanni (60) keep the tradition of master shipbuilding alive with passion and dedication, despite facing significant challenges. After being an economic hub of Aci Trezza for almost a century, supporting dozens of families through the construction of traditional and later large fishing boats, the 1990s brought a sudden decline. The cessation of fishing permits and the rise of synthetic materials for boat construction marked the end of the primary livelihood for the Rodolico family. However, their passion for preserving the craft, their deep roots in the territory, and their family history have led them to keep the shipyard open, perpetuating the knowledge and techniques passed down through generations and keeping the memory of the ancient Sicilian master shipbuilder craft alive.

 

Recognized by Sicilian Region as a living human heritage, Salvatore Rodolico, together with his son Giovanni, embodies a personal intertwining of memories, emotions, and stories that mark him as a milestone in local history. He has significantly contributed to the economic and social dynamics of the village and is universally recognized as the sole holder of knowledge related to the art of shipwrighting, an identifying element of Sicilian culture.

THE PROJECT

We aim to offer concrete support to the Rodolico shipyard while safeguarding a cultural and artistic heritage. This involves giving visibility and continuity to an art and craft that embody important elements of Sicilian culture. We plan to commission the shipyard to build a traditional wooden fishing boat, which will be registered in the Register of Intangible Heritage of Sicily in the book of traditional arts and techniques. This may be the last traditional boat crafted by the last master shipbuilders who use traditional techniques in Sicily.

 

Furthermore, we wish to document the boat-building process as a means to tell the unique history of the Rodolico family and the surrounding community. Our goal is to highlight the art of the master shipbuilder, creating a lasting memory of what we consider a cultural heritage at risk of extinction. This project supports the survival of the shipyard, which faces the risk of closure due to bureaucratic and economic challenges, thereby preserving a long-standing tradition.

HOW WE DO IT

We aim to offer concrete support to the Rodolico shipyard while safeguarding a cultural and artistic heritage. This involves giving visibility and continuity to an art and craft that embody important elements of Sicilian culture. We plan to commission the shipyard to build a traditional wooden fishing boat, which will be registered in the Register of Intangible Heritage of Sicily in the book of traditional arts and techniques. This may be the last traditional boat crafted by the last master shipbuilders who use traditional techniques in Sicily.

 

Furthermore, we wish to document the boat-building process as a means to tell the unique history of the Rodolico family and the surrounding community. Our goal is to highlight the art of the master shipbuilder, creating a lasting memory of what we consider a cultural heritage at risk of extinction. This project supports the survival of the shipyard, which faces the risk of closure due to bureaucratic and economic challenges, thereby preserving a long-standing tradition.

WHO WE ARE

Emotional Sicily aims to narrate the Sicilian territory through the stories of people who passionately carry out virtuous and courageous projects in sometimes challenging social and economic contexts. We explore Sicily's most remote paths and deepest folds in search of stories worth telling. Attracted by the ubiquitous beauty, the natural elements, and the warmth of its people, we are guided by values like honesty, transparency, and responsibility. Our mission is to achieve this through creating tourist itineraries as a tour operator and producing documentaries and videos that deeply narrate our territory. Our aim is to guide our visitors and viewers through a cultural immersion.

 

For this project, Emotional Sicily relies on trusted collaborators who have demonstrated a strong belief in the project and committed their time and energy unconditionally.

WE NEED SUPPORT

To ensure the project gains the necessary visibility, we seek sponsors and supporters who identify with our values and can share our content through their channels, including this webpage, our Instagram profile @rodolicoproject, and other media outlets. We have already identified, and contacted a selection of local, national, and international entities aligned with our principles and values. These include companies, institutions, universities, and both private and public bodies, from whom we seek support in various forms.

 

Regarding the economic sustainability of the project, we are actively seeking sponsors who demonstrate sensitivity and interest in preserving our cultural and historical heritage and who wish to do so by providing financial support to cover the costs of building the boat by the master shipwrights, its decoration by the artist Alice Valenti, and the expenses related to the team involved in documentary production, photography, communication, and project management.

On the other hand, Emotional Sicily will cover all necessary expenses for the initial phases of the project. This commitment is to guarantee that the project progresses smoothly without being slowed down by financial issues.​​​

In addition to this, Emotional Sicily will contribute an amount derived from the sale of tours to support the project, giving its customers the opportunity to actively participate in the preservation of our historical and cultural heritage.

PARTNERSHIPS AND SUPPORTERS

Our goal is to create a network of supporters that can grow, lending credibility and visibility to the project. We believe that the synergies created will add value to the initiative, transforming it into a collective project. We are convinced that this collaboration will enhance the project, benefiting all involved. ​By supporting the Rodolico shipyard project, sponsors and supporters will be part of a vital effort to preserve a significant aspect of Sicilian cultural and historical heritage. Together, we can ensure that this ancient craft and the stories of the people behind it are not only remembered but continue to inspire future generations.

bottom of page