Please update your browser to visualise this site correctly. Update your browser now
The Regata Storica of Venice is one of the most spectacular events on the city's glittering calendar, making 4th September a great time to schedule a visit.
Venice has a proud, ancient seafaring past, and this history is celebrated every year in the Voga alla Veneta competition, which takes place on the Venetian lagoon.
Voga alla Veneta is a special technique of rowing which derive from the particular hydrogeological condition of the lagoon: the gondoliers were forced to row standing to see clearly where the canal was deep enough for the boats. The Regata Storica is the finale and centerpiece of this festival, and features four thrilling gondolier races.
Although its modern form began in the late 19th century, the Regata Storica of Venice has been celebrated since at least the 15th century, when Venetians congregated to welcome the Queen of Cyprus back to her home city (and took possession of the island of Cyprus itself).
However, rowing competitions have been a central part of life on the Venetian lagoon for a thousand years. In a state dependent upon its naval prowess, regattas allowed young men to develop their strength and skills.
In the modern Regata, teams in different classes compete in a breakneck rowing race down the famous Grand Canal, finishing right outside the Ca' Foscari palace. But it's not just the competition that makes the event so special.
The Regata Storica is also a visual delight. The races are preceded by a sumptuous procession, in which all of the vessels are decorated to resemble gondolas of the 16th and 17th centuries, with bright colour schemes and gold details. The participants are dressed in period costumes, and music rings out across the lagoon as the waters of the Grand Canal become a riot of flags, oars and colour. There's nothing like it anywhere in the world.
If you intend to visit Venice during the Regata, it begins in the Castello district and makes its way to Santa Chiara, which is where the rowers need to turn their vessels back towards the finish at Ca' Foscari. You can get a great view of the contest from the banks of the canal, or climb one of Venice's campanile (bell towers) for an even more impressive view.
September is a fantastic time to visit Venice, and it's a time when the question of what to do in the city is easy to answer. Not only can you cheer on the rowers in the Regata Storica, but the city hosts Hollywood's elite at its Film Festival and, every other year, the Biennale provides a chance to see works by the world's greatest artists. It's a magical time to visit one of Italy's most spellbinding cities.