By tradition, the festival of Venice Regata Storica takes place on the first Sunday in September along the Grand Canal, the most famous and enchanting canal in Venice. It’s truly a fest to remember, join us as we go on a journey of its history, tradition and sport!
It starts with a wonderful historic parade comprising of several boats rowing on the Grand Canal to re-enact the glorious past of the Venice Republic. The colourful procession is formed by the Doge, the Doge’s wife and the boats of the Venetian rowing clubs, commemorating the return of the Queen of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro back to Venice, which marked the beginning of the Serenissima rule over the Mediterranean islands.
Several boat races are held after this procession. The first race, known as the Youngster Rowers, tests the ability of young men with two oars pupparini. Next is the women´s race on mascareta. The name is derived from the boat’s nose that looks like a mask. The third race is a men’s one on heavy six-oared caorline. These are river-transportation boats that are not in use these days.
The highlight of the Venice Historical Regata is the champions´ race on two-oared gondolini, which are light boats with two paddles that are shaped like a slim gondola. Unlike the regatas on the most famous lagoon boats, these competitions check the rowers’ technical abilities more than their power.
The race begins from the spagheto or starting line, against scores of competitors to the finish line, or machina. Spectators cheer the gondoliers from the stands and the deciding moment of the race occurs when the rowers round the paleto, which is a turning post that stands in the middle of the Grand Canal.
This is the point in the race where the winners take the lead. It’s at this juncture that the whole crowd roars with life and it’s a moment worth experiencing!
Along with cash prizes, traditional and symbolic flags are awarded to the top four winning teams.
The first is given the prestigious red flag, followed by white, green and blue flags. Earlier, a live pig was also awarded to the winning teams as well but this ceremony has officially been abolished after protests from animal protection organizations.
Now, that you’ve heard about this exciting boat racing festival, we think you should plan a trip to Venice to experience it first-hand! It’s a colourful demonstration, to say the least, and quite an accurate recreation of Venice’s fascinating maritime past.