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Categories : fine SPORTS
The "Regata Storica" is the main event in the annual calendar of "Voga alla Veneta" (Venetian Rowing) competitions, a unique discipline which has been practiced for thousands of years in the Venice lagoon. It is made even more spectacular now by the famous historical parade that precedes the races, with dozens of typical multi-coloured sixteenth-century boats, with gondoliers in period costume, carrying the Doge, Dogaressa and all the highest ranking Venetian Magistrati - a true reconstruction of the glorious past of one of the most powerful and influential Maritime Republics in the Mediterranean. Today the four competitions are divided by age categories and by the type of vessel: the most popular and exciting is the champions’ race on gondolini, whizzing along the Canal Grande to the finish line in front of the famous "machina", the spectacular floating stage located in front of the Palazzo di Ca 'Foscari.
The regatta has always included both Venetians and visitors. The first historical record dates from the middle of the thirteenth century and is linked to the "Festa delle Marie" (the feast of Marys), but it is likely that, in a city like Venice which has always looked out to the sea, the regatta had older origins, dictated by the need to train the crews to oar. Much later is the first visual depiction: a group of boats with the word "regata" can be seen in "Pianta di Venezia" engraving by Jacopo de 'Barbari in 1500. Since then the regatta has been one of the favorite themes for painters to represent Venice celebrating.
The etymology of the word "regata" is uncertain, but it’s likely to come from the term "aurigare" (compete), used and written in the sixteenth century as a synonym for race. From Venice the term passed into the main European languages, always to indicate a competitive event raced in boats.
The race consists of various races of different kinds of boats. Currently the most popular and exciting is the gondolini race. On the occasion of the "Regata Storica" Venice sees the basin of San Marco and the Canal Grande teeming with all kinds of boats, from which people follow the competition with partisan animosity! To address and contain the unrest the regatta used to be preceded –as a security measure - by peote and bissone (parade boats) from which patricians sitting in the bow and equipped with bows threw at the more unruly boats terracotta balls (balote, usually used for hunting marsh birds in the lagoon. Currently the bissone have the sole function of opening the parade.
The key points and the basic stages of the regatta are:
- The "spagheto" (the rope), the starting line in front of the magnificent gardens of St. Helena;
- The "paleto", a stake driven into the middle of the Canal Grande opposite the train station of Saint Lucia, where - as stated by tradition - the winners are determined;
- The "machina", a construction resting on a floating barge anchored in the centre of the canal in front of Ca 'Foscari, richly carved, brightly coloured and gilded, where after the races finish and the prizes, consisting of money and flags, are given out.
The flags are extremely sought-after, and there are four in different colors: first place receives red, then white for second place, green for third, and for fourth place a blue flag on which once stood a little pig, the animal that was considered very slow.