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The Regata Storica of Venice is one of the major events in the city's calendar, and has been for almost 800 years. Made up of a spectacular historical water pageant and a series of races, watching the Regata is an unforgettable experience.
This year, the action takes place on 3rd September 2017. If you are wondering what to do in Venice in late Summer, look no further.
Rowing has been part of Venetian life for thousands of years. However, organized racing has probably only been taking place since the 13th century. As Venice's sea power rose, the rulers needed to train a force of strong, capable sailors. In the days before sail, rowing was a vital military skill.
These days, the Regata Storica of Venice is less about training the next generation of maritime warriors than celebrating Venice's history.
The Regata Storica of Venice begins by commemorating the welcoming ceremony given by Doge Agostino Barbarigo to Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, as she renounced to her throne and moved to Venice in 1489 after the King and her son died. At the time, Caterina was paraded by sea into the city (which took control of Cyprus) - a sign to Venice's rivals that her sea power couldn't be challenged.
Today's pageant still features Doge, Dogaressa and high ranking Venetian officials in period dress sitting in a typically 16th century-style boat making their way up the Grand Canal, followed by a flotilla full of brightly colored gondoliers and music resounding across the lagoon to signal the royal approach. It's a spectacle without parallel.
After that, the rowing competition begins. There are several separate classes of race in the Regata, including races for under 12 and under 14 year olds and the women's race featuring the elegant mascareta boats.
However, the centerpiece is the "Campioni su Gondolini", featuring rapid two-oared vessels and the city's premier oarsmen. Should racers win this contest five times in a row, they are named "Re del Remo" (King of the Oars).
Finally, a handy tip for attendees. Be sure to get to the canal banks early, preferably near Palazzo Balbi or Ca' Foscari, for the best view of the thrilling climax. Alternatively, you can follow proceedings from Castello to Santa Chiara, before the final stretch to Ca' Foscari.
If you want to witness this year's Regata, make a booking with our company and fly to Venice from Munich throughout the season. Find accommodation near the Grand Canal and enjoy the eager and impressive rowers as they hope to be crowned champion of this illustrious Regata.
Photo courtesy of Godromil