Being part of the Venice Historical Regatta, la Regata Storica, was one of the best moments I lived this year. I would have never imagined to have the chance to board on the press boat, travel along the Grand Canal to admire all the people gathering to see the regatta, reach Saint Mark’s basin and sail right next to the historical parade.
Around me, professional journalists, armed with their huge cameras and a slightly annoyed air. While I was there with my small mirrorless and a lot of enthusiasm. I couldn’t stop smiling, turning around to see everything, waving at people, who waved at us on the boat, probably thinking we were celebrities or something.
At some point, we also had two policemen in watercrafts escorting us… Actually, they were obviously escorting the historical boats next to us, but it was cool to see them.
I know that you love quick facts, so I collected 15 interesting things about this unique event.
Venice Historical Regatta Facts
1. It takes place on the first Sunday of September
2. People row Veneto style (voga alla veneta), meaning standing up on the boat
3. Regattas takes place in Venice at least since 1274 (written document testimony)
4. The first painting displaying a regatta dates back to 1500
5. The name “historical” was added in 1899 by the mayor of Venice, who, as a part of the Biennale, decided to introduce, before the competition, the historical parade, in Italian corteo storico.
6. The boats of the parade were built based on vintage designs, prints and paintings.
7. After WW2, the parade was associated with the figure of the queen Caterina Cornaro, arriving in Venice after her forced abdication to the throne of Cyprus in 1489. As a reward, she obtained Asolo castle. Not bad after all.
8. The parade starts from Saint Mark’s basin, arrives at the Ponte della Costituzione via Canal Grande, and then goes back till the point of arrival of the racing boats, the so called Machina, a floating stage in front of Venice’s University palace, Ca’ Foscari.
9. Venetians love the regatta and have high regard for the participants.
10. There are competitions for boys under 12, under 14, youngsters, women, men, and different kind of boats.
11. Each race figures 9 competing teams
12. The first four in rank receive an amount of money and a flag: 1st place red, 2nd white, 3rd green, 4th blue.
13. The fourth crew once received a live pig, nowadays replaced by a pig in Murano glass.
14. You can attend to the regatta from a floating stage along the Grand Canal, near Rialto bridge, for about €60 each.
15. Locals say that on the Venice Historical Regatta day it never rains. Let’s hope so!
About the latter, I have to say that it was true for me. The forecast had been awful all week, letting no space for hope. Nevertheless, I never stopped crossing fingers and the day turned out perfect. Sunny but blessed by a fresh breeze. So, imagine my joy!
I loved Venice Historical Regatta. I could percieve people’s happiness, proudness and emotion. Venetians of all ages were gathered along the Canal Grande, wearing bright colours, Venice flags, cheering, clapping and enjoying one of their most felt events.
And I felt somehow proud too. I’d like to be able to express myself in a better English to convey all my emotions and thoughts in a proper way. I felt I was part of something dating back to centuries ago, in a city that’s the most beautiful in the world, living a unique experience and having the chance to share it with you. Just writing it down, I get emotional.
I hope I’ll have the chance to attend it again, maybe from another perspective!
Last but not least a quick video: