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Regata StoricaBy Anthony Parente
For centuries, regattas have been a part of Venetian life. The first documented regatta was organized for the Festa delle Marie in the 13th century. The regatta, which were mainly races, was a way of showcasing the gondoliers and honor their craft. When Venice became a part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866 the focus turned, and regattas became a celebration of the history of the Venetian Republic. It was in 1899 during the 3rd International Biennale Art Exhibition that Count Filippo Grimani, Mayor of Venice, gave the event the recognition it deserved and called it the Regata Storica.
The event kicks off with an historical parade along the Grand Canal. Beautifully colored historical vessels with rowers dressed in traditional outfits take the Doge (elected Chief of State), Doge’s wife, and high-ranking officials along the Grand Canal eventually ending at Ca’ Foscari, which is the finish of the regatta. This is to commemorate Catherine Cornaro, the queen of Cyprus, who in 1489 arrived in Venice, abdicated her throne, and sold Cyprus to the Republic of Venice.
Following the parade is a series of races based on age group and boat type. The first regatta, known as the maciarele, is for young rowers on two-oared pupparini boats. These are fast and agile boats with a wider stern. Women can show off their skills using a lighter and shorter two-oared boat called the mascareta. Then we have the six-oared caorlina race. The finale of the regatta is rowing champions on a two-oared gondolini.
If you are in or around Venice for the first Sunday in September than the Regata Storica is an event you will not want to miss. To learn more about the parade route, events, and times you can visit the Regata Storica site.
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